BBC News unveils coverage plans for Indian general elections

MUMBAI: BBC News has unveiled its coverage plans for the 2019 general elections in India by launching a voice-activated bulletin, experimenting with chatbot technology and by providing a daily fact-checking service to help debunk fake news.

The special content will feature across the BBC’s Indian language service, BBC India, which offers content in Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, and Telugu.

BBC News journalists across India will provide audiences in six Indian languages and English with coverage, interviews and expert analysis of the elections, focusing on areas such as voters’ aspirations, frustrations, and vision of India’s future.

Throughout the elections, the BBC will closely monitor the voting trends and bring insights from all over India on keenly debated topics, from farm crisis to marginalised communities to crime.

BBC World News and bbc.com will look at the big stories at the heart of the campaign and provide analysis on key topics including employment, security, nationalism, the rural vote, religion, young voters and violence against women.

Starting from 15th April the BBC will launch what it claims is the first ever voice-activated interactive bulletin in Hindi. This special election coverage will be available on smartphones and allow users to instruct their voice device to navigate through the news according to their interest. To access it, just open Google Assistant on your phone or smart speaker and say: “Ok Google, Talk to BBC Elections or BBC Elections से बात कराओ”. The service will be updated each afternoon so users will be able to connect to BBC Election News coverage and get the latest on what is going on.

From 16th April, BBC India will offer an experimental interactive election chatbot in Hindi and English on Facebook’s Messenger platform. The chatbot allows users to interact with the BBC, ask questions and get regular updates as the elections unfold.

BBC Reality Check election service in English and six Indian language services will debunk fake news stories and explain issues at the centre of the debate. The BBC Reality Check reports will focus on issues that affect lives and livelihoods in contemporary India, analyse claims by political parties covering a wide range of topics from the economy and social policy to national security.

BBC World News TV flagship programme Global with Matthew Amroliwala will broadcast daily at 20.30 IST with an election special on 11th April at 20.30 IST. Journey of Vote – an animation depicting the process of voting – started on 11th April in English and six Indian languages.

Using virtual reality technology, Hand in Hand tells a story of faith and friendship at Kumbh. BBC looks at the issue of urban migration and loneliness among India’s elderly living in villages. Two films in ‘mixed reality’ bring together art, technology and storytelling. Goodbye Father, launched on 12th April, is about a farmer who took his own life last year and is narrated through his daughter’s letter to him. Using 3D illustrations, the film depicts how the tragedy affected the young woman. Launching on 15th April, The Warli Tribe highlights the lives and challenges faced by India’s indigenous community who are rarely represented in the political and media discourse of the country.

In Game Engine, released on 25th April, the BBC has developed an interactive time-travelling experience, using game engines to tell the story of India’s feminist movement since 1947. The experience focuses on important milestones such as the Chipko Movement, the Nirbhaya rape case protests and dowry laws.

Prime Minister Modi’s 5 years performance card is one of the most comprehensive report cards of a government done by any media organization in India, fact-checking 346 promises made by the Narendra Modi government in the 2014 election manifesto.

Launching on 15th April, Modi’s Poster Women series narrates the stories of first ever women who benefited from the development schemes introduced by Prime Minister Modi. The Rivers of India series is a dynamic journey across six major Indian rivers exploring various issues and voters’ concerns around elections.

BBC India collaborated with famous YouTubers: Dhruv Rathee, Manan Desai, Nikita Narvekar, Jassi Kaur, Nakkalites Chella and the YouTube channel My Village Show to reach out to young audiences through an innovative format. The series brings special reports by the BBC correspondents who travelled over thousand kilometres along India’s rivers – Ganges, Godavari, Sutlej, Narmada, Cauvery, and Brahmaputra.

#myfirstvote brings interviews with first-time female voters, reflecting a range of issues young voters in India care about today such as workers rights, voting for peace, higher education, water scarcity and child marriage. They bring a unique perspective on how women are often worst affected by issues faced by the Indian society. Offered in English and other languages, these compelling voices showcase women from various parts of India whose stories often do not get attention.

The six Indian language teams of BBC India hosted election Town Halls – bringing together local politicians and experts engaging with women and youth of India. Audiences can revisit and watch meetings in Mumbai, Patna, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Chennai, Tirupathy, Vishakhapatnam, and Vijayawada on Facebook.

BBC World Service flagship radio news and analysis programme Newshour will be coming to India to give full coverage of the 2019 Indian elections. Listeners can keep abreast of the news daily at 18.30 IST.

WorklifeIndia will bring special discussions on less talked about election issues such as cow politics, clean air and identity politics every Friday at 21.00 IST on BBC World News TV and BBC World Service radio. It is also available as a podcast.

The BBC World Service will also be broadcasting a new episode of The Documentary on the 14th April specifically commissioned for the Indian election. The radio documentary follows journalists from one of India’s largest tabloid newspapers. From daily editorial meetings to exclusive investigations, this ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary offers insight into how a newspaper covers the life and news of India’s largest city.

BBC News has developed an Inflation calculator in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi which will help audiences view how inflation has affected the prices of daily products in India in 2009, 2014 and 2018.

On 23rd May 2019, the BBC’s live interactive service will bring election results including live updates on all candidates’ positions in their electoral constituencies and updates of Assembly election results. In addition to this, there will be a full day of coverage on the BBC Hindi, BBC Marathi on Jio Tv platforms.