While the year was dominated by farmer crises, devastating floods, and alarming increase in pollution, among other things — the Twitterati couldn’t care less. A look at the 2017 Twitter trends confirms that India does not look beyond cricket and cinema.
As we bid farewell to 2017 and look back on the year, the report released by Twitter India shows us how little we cared about the issues that really matter and ought to have mattered.
The 1.2 billion population has been burdened with the chaos of a fluctuating economy following the wake of demonetisation and the imposition of the Goods and Services Tax. Healthcare remains unaffordable; price rise is making three meals a day difficult — yet these issues found little representation in what the 462 million internet users had to say in India.
In a shocker, the Twitter trends report highlighted that people care most about cinema, reality television, and cricket over host of other issues. With the thrust on Digital India, and social media becoming a central model of communication for government, ministries, and their schemes — it has become important that netizens engage in topics beyond Baahubali or Hina Khan in Bigg Boss.
Farmers in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, and Haryana were plagued by droughts and crop failure. This even drove them towards indefinite hunger strikes, dharnas, and even suicides.
Further, as RBI noted, the transitory effects of demonetisation lingered on price formations, which resulted in fire sales and price drops.
Although Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, increased the budget allocation by 24 percent for agriculture and rural development in Budget 2017-18, investment continues to be a dominant problem for the agrarian community. Hence, with continued distress, reported farmers’ suicides and droughts, it becomes imperative for the public to help mitigate the ongoing farmers’ crises.
Yet, the voices of 118.9 million cultivators found little space in the micro-blogging site. Instead the movies, Baahubali and Mersal, and celebrity reality show Bigg Boss emerged as the top hashtags which set the tone for Twitter this year.
In India, Twitter saw a flood of tweets with the hashtag, mostly from women, to indicate that they have been sexually harassed or assaulted at least once. This opened up a venue for citizens across ages to take note of the widespread nature of harassment women face daily.
While studies estimate that women comprise only 29 percent of internet users in India, it was encouraging to see them come forward and type, “You are not alone. #MeToo.”
This is, but, just the beginning. The #MeToo campaign needs to be sustained, and collective ideation to fight harassment and abuse is the need of the hour.
Further, in a big surprise, the Women’s World Cricket Cup saw India cheering the women in blue throughout the tournament.
In fact, Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur, became household names and the Indian team gained recognition and support from Prime Minister Modi and sporting legends such as Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, and Virat Kohli.
Even #TripleTalaq had over 3,50,000 tweets.
Hence, if not anything else, the micro-blogging site became a platform for women to engage in conversations.
The year 2017 witnessed horrors of BlueWhale, increase in crimes against women and children, and rape cases which included minors.
Yet, these issues failed to garner noise on twitter.
Yes, current affairs were the second most important topic discussed by Twitterati, but issues pertaining to healthcare and abuse remained on the sidelines.
Diwali topped the charts not just for festive and celebratory reasons. The ban on the sale of cracker in the Delhi-NCR region and alarming pollution levels across major cities and towns in India became talking points.
Further, the legislation for changing the tax structure with the imposition of the Goods and Service Tax in India became another topic of discussion for all.