Sharad Pawar and Harvinder Singh have attracted maximum attention on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook. Minutes after a leading news channel claimed to have flashed ‘exclusive’ footage of Sharad Pawar being slapped by Harvinder Singh, a protestor who was allegedly distressed by the recent spate of graft cases involving top ministers from the Central and State Governments, not just 24-hour television channels, but social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook were also flooded with comments for and against the incident.
Within an hour of the incident, tags like ‘Sharad Pawar’ and ‘Slapgate’ replaced the top Twitter trend ‘Why this Kolavari’, a quirky song in Tamil-English lyrics. Kolavari trend almost disappeared from the top trends within two hours of the slapping incident. Facebook was also flooded with messages, especially after several news reports claimed that the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena has announced a cash reward of INR 11,000 for the culprit who attacked Pawar.
Over 12 video clips of the incident were found on YouTube while writing this story, uploaded mostly by national news channels which received over 15,000 clicks.
While the last week ended in a rush of comments on social networking sites with funny and fake pictures of Aishwarya Rai and her baby (Better known as BabyB on Twitter), the trend disappeared immediately after Why this Kolavari, a Tamil-English song sung by son-in-law of Rajinikanth was leaked on YouTube by an unknown user. It soon became the most talked about topic on Facebook, which surprisingly received an overwhelming response from Japanese social media as many users shared videos showing Japanese youths dancing on the tunes of the song. Kolavari received more than 3 million clicks on YouTube, and was the top trend on Twitter on Thursday until the news of Sharad Pawar broke.
Not just Bollywood celebrities and socialites, but politicians including several top ministers also tweeted on the Pawar episode. Narendra Modi, who has over 4 lakh followers of his Twitter account, wrote, “The attack on Shri Sharad Pawar is condemnable & unfortunate. There is no place for such acts in a democracy.” This tweet was re-tweeted by over 100 people within minutes of its appearance. Other respondent were Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah, Sushma Swaraj, Derek O’Brian and Kiran Bedi among others. Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi tweeted, “Slapping Pawar is the result of all the Maro Latka do slogans from Ramleela Maidan.”
As many in the social media marketing business claim, trends on social networking sites in India seem to have become more dynamic than ever before. Interestingly, NCP was trending on the third position on Twitter after protest of Pawar’s party workers in Mumbai. Though the video of Harvinder Singh assaulting Pawar and later holding a knife (Kripan) was the talking point on television channels throughout the day, he became a known name on social networking sites only after a few hours of the incident and within a few minutes later was on the top of the chart pushing Sharad Pawar to second spot.
According to a recent report on Indian media and entertainment industry by KPMG, of total 550 million Facebook users globally, over 28 million are Indian (Year-on-year growth recorded at 141 per cent). Similarly, 17.3 million Indian users account for a total base of 445 million YouTube users and 27 million Twitter users of 190 million users globally with year-on-year growth of over 300 per cent and 74 per cent respectively. Another report reveals that while digital and social media together account only 2 per cent of the total media industry size in India, it is growing at an exponential rate of 40 per cent. Digital media in India garner close to 3.75 per cent of total ad spend which is to the tune of Rs 266 billion.