Does anyone really remember 2014? I certainly don’t. 2014 was one the fastest years to have gone by. Memories of January seem like it happened yesterday and then the rest of the year is a haze. At this rate, I think I’ll be in rehab soon.
I have grown a specific dislike for lists in this year if nothing else. The entire country OD’d on ’10 things you know when’ and ‘You won’t believe what he did next’ articles. I’m going to sound like one of those prudish hipsters when I say this, but we at Whackk made semi viral lists 4 years ago when lists were not mainstream. It does make me feel better to have put it out there.
Year end lists are still a tradition. While we’re overlooking our annual ‘Chu – Awards’, we’re giving you something with more depth. Here are 10 instances in the past year when the internet had a massive impact on India and its people:
10. Achche Din Aane Waale Hain
The 2014 elections were the coming of age of social media in India. Never has an election been so impacted by the Internet as this one. AAP saw its rise and fall being taken care of by the ever fair interwebz. BJP and congress took to this medium, especially twitter and whatsapp, but only one of them could really perfect the strategy. When the Modi led BJP finally won with a historic majority, the new Prime Minister declared it not through a press conference or radio or print. He tweeted about it.
1-nil to the Internet.
India has won! भारत की विजय। अच्छे दिन आने वाले हैं।
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 16, 2014
On 24th of September ’14, India became the first nation in the world to have a mars mission reach the Martian orbit in the first attempt. If that wasn’t cool enough, the way they announced it to the world literally broke the country’s web orbits:
The Mangalyaan has been tweeting away to legendary cool levels ever since. It has been consistently one of the most popular twitter accounts and there’s enough reason for that:
The view is nice up here. pic.twitter.com/VmAjNI76lm
— ISRO's Mars Orbiter (@MarsOrbiter) September 25, 2014
8. Deepika Humiliates TOI
There was a time when newspapers were where everyone toes the line. The Times Of India is India’s the most popular newspaper. That they’re trying to keep up with the times by going digital is legit. But that does not mean they have to replicate ‘The Lad Bible’ at every given opportunity. Who better to teach them this lesson than a Bollywood celebrity (who I’ve really started finding hot since this incident). Deepika Padukone did this:
Her tweets sparked off a lot of debate around this topic. TOI responded in what most of us would now label as textbook PR fault in today’s world:
Flipkart was the 2nd most searched thing in India in 2014. Let me rephrase, a country with 1 billion people with about 900 million phones and 150 million smartphones searched a lot for flipkart. That’s a lot of people, let that sink in.
Flipkart had a one day mega sale called ‘The Big Billion Day’. Since raising $1bn in July, this was being touted a the beginning of Flipkart’s aggressive expansion over Snapdeal and Amazon. This is how Snapdeal responded:
Mind you, this happened on the front page of TOI. Ambush marketing at its best. This is how Amazon trolled Flipkart:
As the plot turned out, Flipkart didn’t live up to the hype. The scrutinizing eyes of the web saw through every little trick Flipkart used (price manipulating, fake offers, errors) and soon the web issued its unforgiving judgement in the form of #Flopkart trending nationwide.
Check out how a product’s price was inflated by more than 100% right before the same commenced.
Flipkart eventually had to own up to its miserable delivery on promise with this mass E-mailer that sounded like a child owning up to peeing at the principle’s seat.
The internet also saw a rise in public activism and vigilance. This device called the smartphone finally started living up to its name once people started using it smartly. A lot of videos recorded by phones exposed the flaws in the system. Especially those to do with harassment by authorities or harassment in general.
This video surfaced from Mira Road which shows the bullying nature of cops with citizens when it’s that time of the month, or day.
The video that really went viral and made people sit up was that of the Rohtak sisters bashing up a guy in a public bus after he supposedly harassed them. This even got the government to promise them a national bravery award on the upcoming Republic Day. Sentiments were in place and all the heroism in a couple of girls beating up guys was being poetically justified.
Things took an interesting turn though as other videos surfaced where these girls are shown beating up other men in public places. A few questions that arose were, how is some one always recording their videos? How do all the videos start at the exact point when the men get beaten up and nothing of the altercation before that? And how do they always carry men’s belts etc as convenient handy weapons? The Internet won again and judgments are reserved on this issue still as more people came up for the defense of the originally accused men.
The other side of this story:
5. Media for Media
While Arnab saw his stature as India’s loudest journalist establish further, there was an interesting trend that we all saw. We saw that journalists and news was increasingly being questioned on the newer ‘holier than thou’ medium of the internet. Twitter exemplified Murphy’s Law and whatever questions could be raised, were raised every time the Indian media acted frivolously.
Trolling the TV journalists became a norm after this the famous Arnab Goswami rant of “how dare you!” went viral. This was the best of the lot:
Even the twitter friendly Rajdeep Sardesai was not spared after his altercation with a few Modi supporters during Modi’s stay in America. Such bipolar reactions caused #RajdeepSlapped and #IStandWithRajdeep to trend simultaneously on twitter.
The best of this turmoil came in the form of ‘News Laundry’. News Laundry is a web based independent news network that acts as a media critique. They analyze and criticize popular journalists over their methods and practices while reporting ‘news’. For example, this show starts off with Karan Thapar being accused of being a Pakistani Spy:
I know it’s really vague, ‘entertainment’. But that’s what 2014 has done. It has changed the meaning of entertainment and its channels and established order forever. This year saw the elites of entertainment in India, Bollywood, look at the internet way more seriously than it ever has. Every star was active on twitter or collaborating with the popular web channels of The Viral Fever (TVF) or All India Bakchod (AIB).
Which brings us to the alternate channel of rediscovering humor. Intelligent humor won the year with the staggering 1.5 million cumulative subscribers for these two channels (AIB and TVF) alone. Alia Bhatt did a couple of brilliant web videos to help her personal cause and that of women safety in general.
The peak of this trend was reached when we saw the India version of ‘Between Two Ferns’, ‘Barely Speaking With Arnub’ kick start their season with Shah Rukh Khan sportingly getting insulted himself.
Web shows like #AskAIB and Permanent Roommates have set the trend for the coming year with brands going the video content way by collaborating with content creators online.
3. Open Letters
Open Letters started off with winning the Indian webspace, but as the year progressed the people and I got very fed up of these. It started with The Hindu writing an advisory open letter to TOI post the Deepika Padukone fiasco, politely asking them to shut when they have nothing better to say.
This was followed by a few other not so popular open letters. Anupam Kher wrote one after the Peshawar tragedy. Shweta Basu expressed her plight at the media judgement after her misjudged case. Shenaz Tresury touched a chord at the end of the year with her open letter about women security post the Uber affair. If only the world didn’t find a selfish motive behind her letter. One of those trends we should probably leave behind in 2014.
Speaking of Bollywood taking the web very seriously, Hrithik took to twitter to promote his movie Bang Bang in an awesome way. He gave out Bang Bang dares to his friends from the film industry. This included Priyanka Chopra’s headstand, Nargis Fakri’s genuinely crisp rap and Farhaan Akhtar’s bicycle ride. But the spotlight was stolen by Ranveer Singh when he took up the #BangBangDare in this way:
And finally, the internet movement that inspired this entire article. After the Peshawar tragedy, where 132 school kids were killed by the Taliban as an act of exacting revenge on the army, sentiments poured strongly from all ends. The one thing that stood out was the effect of unadulterated communication between the people of India and Pakistan via twitter.
For years, all our voices to Pakistan have been sounded via political tongues. This is the first time in tragedy when everyone showed the world what people really wanted. Peace and co-operation. #IndiaWithPakistan started trending nationwide. It’s beautiful how trends tell the entire story.
Indians all over showed support and solidarity to their troubled neighbors. In the end, the internet won. The country won.
Here’s hoping that 2015 will continue this small movement of peace, rationality and freedom that the Internet has brought about in our country. Have a happy new year!