Shaping Narratives Through Selective Use of Numbers: A Covid-19 Case Study
In the period between March 2020 and May 2021, India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare produced 1,324 press releases, at an average of three per day. At different times, these press releases provided different numbers relating to the COVID-19 crisis: number of cases, number of recoveries, number of deaths, quantity of medical supply, recovery rate, and case fatality rate. This paper analyses the content of the press releases and identifies patterns that correspond to specific narratives such as hope, confidence, electoral emphasis, and deflection. The paper argues that the press releases served as a mechanism for the government to drive narratives in a manner that showed it in a favourable light, irrespective of the actual performance.