In 2016, people in India and across the world came together on Twitter in moments of celebration, protest, mourning and joy. From the rise of Indian women athletes at #Rio2016 to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation move garnering over 470,000 Tweets within 12 hours, the most iconic local conversations of the year unfolded on Twitter. The platform became the pulse and public consciousness of Indian society, with Twitter continuing to influence Indian culture across key moments. All this and more form the basis of the #YearOnTwitter (#YOT) 2016 India report that Twitter released on Tuesday.

Top 10 moments in India on Twitter in 2016

1. Modi’s demonetisation scheme

On 8 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi (@NarendraModi) announced the withdrawal of 500 and ,000 currency notes to fight black money and corruption in India. Twitter resonated with public opinions and debates over the currency ban. The platform recorded 650,000 tweets in 24 hours following the announcement.

2. Women athletes at Rio 2016

India united on Twitter to support and praise top women athletes during #Rio2016. It was girl power all the way for India at the Summer Olympics and fans came together like never before to publicly voice their gratitude to India’s star performers like badminton player P.V. Sindhu, wrestler Sakshi Malik and gymnast Dipa Karmakar. Sindhu, Malik and Karmakar emerged as an inspiration to millions of women.

3. INDvPAK

#INDvPAK trended all day on Twitter in India and globally, and more than 1.1 million Tweets were recorded, making it the most Tweeted T20 International match ever, beating the earlier record of the recent Asia Cup match between India and Pakistan when more than 670,000 Tweets were sent. With his fantastic innings in a tight run-chase, Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) became the most mentioned player of the match on Twitter.

4. Delhi pollution

The capital city’s escalating pollution levels all year have seen citizens take to Twitter to express their worries, share photos of smog-filled streets, and find solutions.

5. India celebrates Diwali

India and the world celebrated Diwali on Twitter from 30 October to 2 November.

6. INDvAUS (World T20 Second group stage match on 27 March)

One of the most exciting games of #WT20 where Kohli scored 47 runs in the last five overs, hitting seven boundaries and a six, and the moment he hit the winning runs to secure India’s passage to the semi-finals was the most-Tweeted of #WT20. This was the second most Tweeted match during #WT20 after #INDvPAK with 973K Tweets recorded during the match.

7. International Day of Yoga

The 2nd International Day of Yoga on 21 June was celebrated by yoga enthusiasts in India and across the world on Twitter.

8. Global Citizen India

On 19 November, British rock band Coldplay and American hip-hop artist Jay Z performed for the first time in India as part of the Global Citizen Festival India 2016 in Mumbai. The concert’s energy resonated on Twitter as fans gushed over the 90-minute musical event that connected global and Indian entertainment cultures.

9. India celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi

This year, Twitter announced a special Lord Ganesha Twitter emoji for the first time that made #GaneshChaturthi emerge as one of the top global trends during the festive period, recording nearly half a million Tweets.

10. Filmfare Awards

The Filmfare Awards of Jan 2016 emerged as the most talked about Indian award show of the year.

According to Maya Hari, managing director, Twitter Southeast Asia and India: “It was a special year on two counts for Indians: one, to join global conversations on Twitter be that conversations around Rio 2016 or cricket but also, significantly to start global conversations on the world’s largest live platform. These include conversations around demonetization and the Delhi pollution."

Popular hashtag trends of 2016

Popular Twitter hashtag trends in India were a mixture of sports, entertainment, political, and social activism movements. In sports, it was #Rio2016, #IndvsPak,#WT20 and #IndvsAus that trended. The tweets reflected pride, thrill and joy of Indians everywhere as Indian athletes won medals at the Olympics.

#surgicalstrike was another popular hashtag. Debates and discussions ensued on Twitter after the Indian Army carried out a surgical strike against Pakistan on 29 September, following the Uri Attack.

The hashtag #JNU also took Twitter by storm as Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was slapped with sedition charges and arrested on 13 February. People debated on Twitter over serious issues such as condemning freedom of speech that this arrest reflected.

The golden Tweet OF 2016

Virat Kohli’s (@imVkohli) Tweet in support of Anushka Sharma (@AnushkaSharma) was the Golden Tweet or the most Retweeted Tweet of 2016. He encouraged his fans and critics, who attributed his outstanding performance in the ICC World T20 to their break-up, to focus on empathy and community building. It’s an emphatic example of an Indian youth icon using Twitter’s public platform to change the conversation by standing up for the woman in his life and advocating a more positive online behaviour.

Most followed accounts in 2016

India’s list of most-followed accounts in 2016 is dominated by PM Modi (@narendramodi ) with 26.4 million followers, followed by Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) with 23.4 million followers.

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