Clip of India's top opposition figure talking about paying unemployed youth taken out of context

Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi did not say in his livestreamed campaign speech on April 20, 2024 that his party will pay unemployed youth to monitor social media, contrary to social media posts that took his statement out of context. The clip was taken from a longer video, where Gandhi talked about his party's proposed apprenticeship programme for unemployed graduates. 

"Accounts of common youth who are doing a tedious job of watching Instagram and Facebook 24x7 will automatically get Rs 8500 credited every month to their bank account," reads the caption of a post shared on X on April 22, 2024.

The post also shared a clip which shows Rahul Gandhi, a senior leader of the opposition Indian National Congress party, saying in Hindi that the government will deposit an annual amount of 100,000 rupees -- around $1,200 dollars -- to "youngsters, who are now wandering the streets ... browsing Instagram, and Facebook..."

Screenshot of the false post, taken on April 23, 2024

India is set to elect the 543-member Lok Sabha -- the lower house of the country's legislature -- in a six-week general election that started on April 19. 

 Gandhi's party promised to address unemployment in its election campaign (archived link). 

According to a recent report by the International Labour Organization, "Unemployment in India was predominantly a problem among youths, especially youths with a secondary level of education or higher, and it intensified over time" (archived links here and here).

But analysts have long expected the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party -- the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- to win against a fractious opposition alliance that includes Gandhi's Congress. 

The video was shared with similar claims elsewhere on Facebook here, here and on X here.    

Comments on the posts suggest social media users were misled into believing the claim to be genuine. 

One user wrote, "Just vote this stupid man, make him Prime Minister and let the nation turn into bankrupt & epicentre of Beggers, impotent (sic)."

"Encouraging young minds to waste away on social media isn't progress. Let's fully support Narendra Modi who wants to invest in opportunities that cultivate real skills and meaningful contributions to society," commented another user.

But Gandhi's statement was taken out of context. 

Proposed apprenticeship programme

A keyword search on YouTube found Gandhi’s complete livestreamed speech uploaded on his verified account on April 20, 2024 (archived link). 

The description of the video said Gandhi gave the speech in a campaign rally held in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the clip shared in the post (left) and the video uploaded on Gandhi's verified YouTube channel (right):

Screenshot comparison of the clip shared in false post (left) and the video uploaded on Rahul Gandhi's verified YouTube channel (right)

While Gandhi did say in the video that they will pay young people  "who are now wandering the streets and browsing Instagram, and Facebook," this statement was said in relation to his party's proposed training program for unemployed graduates.

From the 9:33 mark of the speech, Gandhi can be heard saying, "Narendra Modi has made India the centre of unemployment. Wherever you look, ask any youth, they say that they do nothing. These unemployed youth waste 7-8 hours on Instagram and Facebook. Because Modi has spread unemployment to extreme levels in the country," (archived link). 

"If our government is formed, we will give 'Right to Apprenticeship' to all the graduates and diploma holders of India, under which our next government is going to give the 'First Job Guaranteed' to every youth of India," he adds.

Under this proposed scheme, Gandhi explained the government will train young people to do various jobs in the private and public sectors  and will be paid an annual salary of 100,000 rupees ($1,200). If they performed well in the training, they will get a permanent job. 

The portion of Gandhi’s speech that has been clipped and shared out of context starts at the 12:33 mark of the video (archived link).

"So scores of youngsters will be trained and India will get a trained workforce and our youngsters, who are now wandering the streets ... browsing Instagram, and Facebook... our government will credit their bank accounts with an annual amount of Rs 1 lakh (monthly income of Rs 8500)," he said. 

AFP has previously debunked election misinformation in India such as here and here


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