India Misinformed: The True Story by Pratik Sinha, Dr. Sumaiya Shaikh and Arjun Sidharth

Book summarised by Preshit Parihar, Research Assistant, PIC, May 2022

The dynamics of misinformation and fake news and its devastating impact on society have been presented in the book ‘India Misinformed: The True Story.’
The authors Pratik Sinha, Dr. Sumaiya Shaikh, Arjun Sidharth and other contributors are co-founders and writers at Alt News, a fact-checking website “that is committed to debunking misinformation, disinformation and mal-information that we encounter on a daily basis on social media as well as mainstream media.”
While Sinha has previously worked as a software engineer in India, US and Vietnam, specializing in embedded systems and wireless technologies, Dr. Shaikh is a neuroscientist in Sweden, studying human brain during violent aggression. The third co-author, Sidharth, worked in the TV news industry where he managed news bulletins and breaking news scenarios. 
The maligning of top politicians from the ruling party and the opposition; spreading misinformation about historical personalities; the targeting of celebrities; circulation of disinformation relating to science and disinformation spread through mainstream media are discussed in the book.

The book presents 82 examples of fake news spanning an array of topics ranging from hate crimes, brand building, maligning images of political figures to debunking news around science and technology. It comes as no surprise that the section on ‘Spreading Communal Discord’ is the most exhaustive one and is featured right at the very beginning.
Pointing out the gravity and seriousness of fake news, well-known journalist Ravish Kumar says in his foreword that people have been murdered and communal disharmony ignited as a result of fake news.  Eminent author Arundhati Roy and former editor and ex-BJP minister Arun Shourie are among those who have endorsed the book.  Says Roy: “This book doesn’t just expose lies, it exposes the pattern of lies… Everyone ought to read it.’ According to Shourie, the book helps one understand the scale of the menace.
Each of the 11 sections begins with a short introduction. The format for most chapters is fairly simple: the news item or social media post in question; claims and the facts. Readers are free to draw their own conclusions.
Fake news around history and targeting historically popular personalities have been debunked. Attempts to distort history and malign the leaders of the past in various ways has been exposed.

Disinformation spread through the digital manipulation of photographs and altering of pictures has been explained.
Anti-vaccine rumours, tall claims and miracle cures have been explained in the science section.
As explained by the authors, the examples presented in the book are meant to show how fake news is circulated, and the facts mentioned “intend to critique and initiate an important discourse on the harms of presumably accepting available information.”
The book is an excellent contribution towards making the citizenry better informed about the reality of fake news and disinformation.