From ‘Lady Doritos’ to fitness challenges, from ‘Urban Naxals’ to ‘bird droppings’, here are 12 controversies that set Twitter alight in the year gone by.
New Delhi: Over the years, Twitter has become the platform of choice for people to vent, to indulge in heated political debates and trolling. That makes it the hub of controversy, and 2018 showed that in full measure.
Whittling the list down to 12 was some job, but here it is: From politicians to film stars, from ‘Lady Doritos’ to fitness challenges and ‘bird droppings’, here are the top 12 controversies that captured the attention of India’s Twitterati in 2018.
Maid on the Metro floor
Way back in January, the picture of a nanny sitting on the floor of a Delhi Metro coach did the rounds on social media. The photo, posted by ThePrint’s Sanya Dhingra, highlighted that among urban middle class families, casteist and classist practices are still being followed.
In February, PepsiCo chairperson and then-CEO Indra Nooyi hit the headlines when her idea to develop a ‘low crunch’, ‘female-friendly’, ‘more polite’ version of Doritos was slammed. Twitter users took no time to troll her for wanting to bring out ‘Lady Doritos’, and eventually, the company issued a clarification contradicting what Nooyi had said.
Modi’s fitness challenge video
In May, the Minister of State for Youth Affairs and sports and former Olympic silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore started a hashtag #FitnessChallenge, posting a video of him exercising. To promote it further, he also nominated three other celebrities, including Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, who, in turn, nominated Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi accepted the challenge and released his video on 13 June, giving rise it became an instant series of memes.
Anushka Sharma scolds a man for littering
In June, a video of actress Anushka Sharma ticking off a man for littering on the road went viral after being shared by husband Virat Kohli. The man in question, Arhhan Singh, later served a legal notice to the couple for shaming him on social media.
Rahul Gandhi’s Germany visit
Congress president Rahul Gandhi went to Germany in August for an NRI outreach programme. His party’s official handle released pictures of him looking lost standing in front of the World War II graffiti wall at the Bundestag (parliament building) in Berlin, with the caption ‘the many facets of Rahul Gandhi’.
It was a self-goal. The pictures became a ‘meme’ sensation within minutes, with even the BJP’s official handle retweeting them, saying it “couldn’t resist”.
Filmmaker and author Vivek Agnihotri created a lot of controversy on Twitter when he talked about compiling a list of people whom he considered ‘Urban Naxals’, which is also the name of his book. It rebounded on him, though, as liberal intellectuals owned the tag, bombarding him with requests to put them on his list.
PETA’s ghee-free Janmashtami
In an attempt to promote veganism, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) urged people to use ‘vegan ghee’ instead of ghee made from milk on Janmashtami. But this brought about an enormous backlash from the worshippers of Lord Krishna.
BJP’s fuel price graph
After fuel prices touched their peak in September, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s official Twitter handle tried to do some damage control and posted the “reality behind the rising fuel prices”. But it was trolled for using the wrong charts, even though the math behind the graph was right.
The BJP was actually trying to say that the percentage increase in fuel prices during the UPA era was higher than the NDA era, but that wasn’t what the graph showed.
After receiving an overwhelming response in the West, the #MeToo wave broke records in India, especially when the names of the people from the media industry started tumbling out. Several women who suffered sexual harassment at the workplace spoke out on Twitter, naming and shaming the men who had exploited them.
Statue of Unity
The tallest statue in the world had its fair share of controversies in the real world too, but in the Twitterverse, it became the centre for high-voltage drama twice.
The first was on the day it was inaugurated, when images of a signboard at the base of the statue went viral. The board bore the name ‘Statue of Unity’ in 10 different languages, but most of these were either transliterations or the English name or pretty meaningless gibberish. Officials later claimed that the signboard with wrong translations was ‘fake’.
The second occasion was when Congress social media head Divya Spandana tried to troll Prime Minister Modi by putting his picture next to the statue and comparing him to a “bird’s dropping”. Several people criticised Spandana for this remark, but she refused to delete the tweet.
‘Smash Brahminical patriarchy’
On his visit to India in November, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey faced rage from India’s Brahmins, who objected to him holding a placard that said ‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy’. Twitter, which says it is duty bound to be a better platform for public discourse and eliminate hate speech, had to hasten to Dorsey’s defence, but not before losing face.
Rahul Gandhi gets ‘tutored’
After its victories in three states in the Hindi heartland — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh — a video surfaced, showing Congress president Rahul Gandhi being guided by Jyotiraditya Scindia at a press conference. The BJP, which lost its grip on all three states, shared it on Twitter, with its IT cell head Amit Malviya and Textile Minister Smriti Irani also trolling him for it.
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