In January this year Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an initiative to incubate India's startup environment. The launch of Startup India at Vigyan Bhawan in the national capital drew some of India's brightest entrepreneurs.
The objective of the ambitious programme was to give Indian startups a leg up. The Twitter handle of the website, @startupindia, routinely tweets out various government initiatives. However, a Twitter user recently spotted something very odd. The handle seemed to have retweeted a couple of troll tweets, one of which issued a veiled threat to journalists.
The tone and text of one of the tweets is conversant with what right-wing trolls use regularly to belittle journalists on Twitter. The user asked for the Indian army to be "freed" for a day to "take care of pro-Pak presstitutes". The vile term, by the way, was used by union minister VK Singh to describe corrupt scribes, insinuating that many from the media have traded their principles for kickbacks.
Twitter user Joy Das called out the handle:
It was soon noticed by politicians.
— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) July 27, 2016
And other users.
I think yesterday social media fiasco by StartupIndia handle,should be used as proof as to why novices should not be given to handle imp acs— Priyashmita Guha (@priyashmita) July 27, 2016
Shocking that government handle @startupindia is RTing trolls who are advocating violence against journalists!— Rohini Singh (@Rohinisgh_ET) July 26, 2016
After the backlash, the handle issued an apology.
We are here to create the world's best startup ecosystem. Unwarranted & irrelevant retweets have been deleted. (1/2)— Startup India (@startupindia) July 27, 2016
We do not endorse anything outside the startup ecosystem. Apologies to our followers. (2/2)— Startup India (@startupindia) July 27, 2016
It leaves many questions unanswered, the primary one being why would a government-backed Twitter handle RT troll tweets, and especially one directed against the media?