Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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Photo of Gandhi in luxury car goes viral ahead of I-day, but there’s nothing British about it

A photo of Gandhi climbing out of a Packard One-Twenty has gone viral. Social media users though have incorrectly identified this as a British-made luxury car.

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New Delhi: In the run-up to India’s 75th Independence Day, several social media users have been sharing old images of major historical figures involved in the freedom struggle against the British Raj. One such image that has gone viral claims to be of Mahatma Gandhi climbing out of a Packard One-Twenty, an American-made luxury car.

However, what many users have got wrong is the make of the car. From newspapers to social media users — all have posted an inaccurate caption to the image, denoting the car’s origin as British.

For instance, political commentator Pushpendra Kulshreshtha tweeted: “Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was probably the first and last revolutionary of the world who used the luxury car of the British for the movement against the British. If anyone has seen Shaheed Bhagat Singh, [Chandra Shekhar] Azad ji agitating in luxury vehicles, then do share the photo.” [translated from Hindi]

Kulshreshtha’s post Tuesday was retweeted nearly 4,000 times and ‘liked’ nearly 13,000 times.

Several other users and public pages on Twitter and Facebook also posted the same image and caption almost verbatim. Each re-post has garnered more than 100 ‘likes’.



Fact check

In recent anniversaries of Gandhi Jayanti (2 October), news publications like Jansatta, News18, The Economic Times and Financial Express have done historical deep dives and shared pictures of luxury cars that date back to the British Raj.

News18, for instance, marked Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary in 2019 by sharing a list of three cars Gandhi was known to have used in India — the Ford Model T, the Studebaker President and the Packard One-Twenty.

Not only were all three of these cars manufactured by American companies, the image of the Packard One-Twenty in the News18 listicle matches the viral social media posts.

News18’s research has since been corroborated by the Jansatta and Financial Express articles, which were published in 2020.

Furthermore, the Packard One-Twenty was owned by Ghanshyam Das Birla, the publications say.

The Economic Times listicle, published on Independence Day 2018, looks more broadly at the “swanky cars” from this period of history and states that photos of Gandhi with the car were clicked “often”.

In collaboration with SM Hoaxslayer

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