UP Migrant Crisis Study Not by ‘Harvard’; Media Misreports

The study was conducted by Gurgaon-based Institute for Competitiveness, not Harvard.

4 min read
Hindi Female

A press release shared by the Uttar Pradesh government and amplified by several news outlets falsely stated that a study by 'Harvard University' had praised the state government's handling of the migrant crisis, wherein lakhs of migrant labourers, left without work, were forced to return to their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, fact-checking websites Alt News and Boom Live found that the study was conducted by a Gurgaon-based institute known as Institute for Competitiveness (IFC).

While, IFC is an affiliate of Harvard’s Microeconomics of Competitiveness (MOC), a graduate course offered by the Harvard Business School, Harvard University had nothing to do with the study.

Further, the study by IFC didn’t praise the UP government's handling of migrant crisis, but sought to analyse its efforts on various parameters like support, infrastructure and opportunities.


‘Not Accurate to Call It a Harvard Study’

IFC is one of the several institutes that are a part of the MOC Affiliate Network at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness (ISC) of the Harvard Business School, which is responsible for the MOC course.

The list of 121 institutes and other details about the affiliate network can be seen in ISC's prospectus, here.

IFC, too states that it's an “Indian knot in the global network of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School” on its website. However, it does not claim to be a part of the HBS itself.

In an e-mail correspondence with Alt News, Katelyn B Ahern, Competitiveness & Economic Development Program Manager at ISC, said, “It is not accurate to refer to a study by a MOC affiliate as a Harvard study.”

Amit Kapoor, Honorary Chairman at IFC and one of the authors of the study, also dismissed the claims about it being a 'Harvard study' and it "praising" the UP government's efforts.

While speaking to Boom Live, he said, “Nowhere in the report – or otherwise – have we attributed the study to Harvard,” which is why it would be inaccurate to refer to the study as a ‘Harvard study’.

The study, titled, 'COVID-19 & The Migrant Crisis Resolution: A Report on Uttar Pradesh' was accessed by Alt News and carries a logo of MOC, specifying that it's an affiliate network of HBS.

The study can be viewed here.

The study was conducted by Gurgaon-based Institute for Competitiveness, not Harvard.

(Photo: Alt News/Screenshot)

While MOC affiliates can use the logo for internal purposes, as specified by Ahern, the use of the term "Harvard" or related logos “need prior written approval from Harvard to use it externally”.

Kapoor further told Alt News that they had not breached the trademark policies of the university as the document was meant "for internal consumption and was not intended to be made public".

He went on to state that the study was not projected as a ‘Harvard Study’ and the “interpretation was unexpected”. As a remedial measure, the “logo will be removed” from the report.

Does the Study ‘Praise’ UP Govt?

Speaking to Boom Live, Kapoor denied the claim that the study had 'praised' the Yogi Adityanath-led UP government.

He insisted that the study was “not comparative” and hence, “it cannot be said to be praising any entity”.

It is "only a documentation of the efforts of the UP government using an analytical framework", he said, adding that the study also "provides recommendations" on "future pandemic management".

Kapoor further explained the methodology behind the study, stating that they had analysed the UP government's efforts on three parameters, which included migrant support, health infrastructure, and livelihood opportunities.


The study makes several observations of the efforts taken by the state government, such as arranging transportation, food kits, employment and so on.

It also notes the shortcomings of the state and places it among the bottom five states in terms of availability of government hospital beds and doctors per lakh population.

The report observes that Uttar Pradesh has 10 healthcare centres per lakh of population, the seventh lowest in the country.

It also looks at the need for improving the MSME sector in the state and makes several recommendations for the same.

As a concluding remark, it states that, “Although the Uttar Pradesh government has taken steps to build economic opportunities for them closer to home using existing schemes as well as by signing new MoUs, it is important to develop a long-term employment generation plan”.

Media Misreports of ‘Harvard Study’ Amplified by Netizens

Several media houses carried a press release by the UP government, stating that the study was conducted by Harvard. None of the reports mentioned the title or the authors of the study. No link to the study was provided either.

Hindustan Times, Dainik Jagran and Free Press Journal carried reports stating that the 'Harvard Study' 'praises' or 'lauds' the state government.

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    (Photo: Website/Screenshot)

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News Agency IANS also called the report a "study by Harvard University" in a tweet.

The study was conducted by Gurgaon-based Institute for Competitiveness, not Harvard.

You can view an archived version here

(Photo: Twitter/Screenshot)

Times Now and Swarajya carried reports attributed to IANS. OpIndia also published a report in Hindi.

These reports were picked up by several prominent figures and other social media users.

BJP MLA Tajinder Pal Bagga shared a report by 'Tatva India,' while BJP Delhi Pradesh member Vinit Goenka shared the Hindustan Times report.

Shishir, Director Information and Public Relations for the UP government, also shared the HT report. Facebook pages like PMO India : Report Card, Nation With NaMo, PostToast and Hindu Post also carried the incorrect information.

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Topics:  Uttar Pradesh   Migrant   Harvard 

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