The Year On Twitter: #ThisHappened in India in 2016

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

2016 was a special year for Indians to join the global conversations on Twitter as well as for India to start global conversations on the world’s largest live communications platform. This year, Twitter reflected and influenced Indian society that was united together in celebration, victory, protests, revolutionary reforms, crises, and significant cultural moments. Twitter gives people a voice and the people of India empowered themselves to speak up, to help, to inspire, to debate, to build safer and healthier cities, to ask for better public services, to build communities, and to come together as one.

The country’s trending moments became worldwide conversations on Twitter, be it PM Modi’s (@NarendraModi) revolutionary demonetisation reform (Most Influential Moment of the Year), Delhi’s rising pollution problem, the debut of Global Citizen Festival in India, and the Bollywood glam at the Filmfare Awards. Meanwhile, proud Indian voices joined the global Twitter community when India’s women athletes broke new ground at the Rio 2016 Olympics, cricketers Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) and MS Dhoni (@msdhoni) achieved milestone successes at the international #WT20 tournament, and global cultural celebrations took place for Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi and the International Day of Yoga.

PV Sindhu (@Pvsindhu1), Sakshi Malik (@SakshiMalik), and Dipa Karmakar (@DipaKarmakar), India’s women athletes that won a million hearts on Twitter during the Olympics made #Rio2016 the Top Hashtag Trend of the Year on Twitter. Their medal victories and near-misses inspired women everywhere, and showcased a spirit of unwavering determination and grit.

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 #WT20 to their break-up, to focus instead 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. It was well-appreciated by his Twitter followers and other like-minded individuals, which helped make it go viral on Twitter.

Here’s a closer look at the #YearOnTwitter in India in 2016:


Twitter is where Indians go to see what’s happening everywhere in the world right now. From breaking news and entertainment to sports and politics - across big events to everyday interests with all the live commentary that makes Twitter special. These are the most influential moments on Twitter - where Indians went first to ask questions, get answers or share ideas about the biggest conversations happening in India and the world throughout 2016.

The Year On Twitter: #ThisHappened in India in 2016

1. Modi’s demonetisation scheme
On November 8th, Prime Minister Narendra Modi (@NarendraModi) announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1000 currency notes to fight against black money and corruption in India. The move impacted the majority of Indians and Twitter continues to resonate with their opinions and debates over the currency ban. The platform recorded 650,000 Tweets in 24 hours following the announcement and millions more Tweets in the following weeks. The magnitude of these conversations by experts as well as common people put the global spotlight on India.

2. Women athletes at Rio 2016
India united on Twitter to support and praise these 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. Twitter recorded millions of Tweets for these moments of national pride as part of the global conversation for #Rio2016 from 5-21 August. These victories saw Sindhu (@Pvsindhu1), Sakshi (@SakshiMalik) and Dipa (@DipaKarmakar) rise as global figures beating the odds and excelling at sports, consecutively emerging as an inspiration to millions of women around the world.

3. INDvPAK at WT20
On March 19th, #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 where 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 this #WT20 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. At the start of the year, the government implemented the Odd-Even scheme, impounded diesel vehicles and banned fire crackers during Diwali to improve air quality levels. Like every winter, the pollution levels continued to escalate in Delhi this November leading to worries of severe health hazards amongst citizens.

5. India celebrates Diwali
Indians across the world celebrated the biggest and brightest festival via Tweets, photos and videos of sweets, fire crackers, festive clothes, and more from Oct 30-Nov 2. This year, thousands of Indians also participated in a Twitter Poll by @TwitterIndia to choose the colour of the ‘diya’ Twitter emoji, eventually choosing the orange version for the #HappyDiwali hashtag.

6. INDvAUS at WT20
One of the most exciting games of #WT20 was the do-or-die, winner-takes-all clash between India and Australia on March 27th. Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) 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 moment of #WT20. With 973K Tweets recorded during the match, this was the second most Tweeted match during #WT20.

7. International Day of Yoga
The 2nd International Day of Yoga on June 21st was celebrated by yoga enthusiasts in India and across the world on Twitter. The customised ‘asana’ emoji was a delight for people celebrating the day, and the platform lit up with invigorating photos and videos from the yoga community, from as remote as the Siachen glacier!

8. Global Citizen India
On November 19th, 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. As Coldplay frontman Chris Martin performed a duet with AR Rahman for ‘Vande Mataram’, the electric moment lit up on Twitter with videos and photos from the 80,000 screaming fans reaching a global audience. 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
Indians across communities, including celebrities, sport stars and politicians celebrated the cultural moment on the platform with colourful Tweets, greetings, photos and videos from August 5-16. This year, Twitter announced a special Lord Ganesha Twitter emoji for the first time. The special emoji was a pleasant surprise and an instant hit amongst Indians worldwide, who made #GaneshChaturthi emerge as one of the top Global Trends during the festive period, recording nearly half a million Tweets.

10. Filmfare Awards
For the 61st Filmfare Awards on January 15th, Twitter provided a front row seat to fans across the world. Bollywood fans flocked to Twitter to follow the live and exciting #OnlyOnTwitter conversation as the awards unfolded: real-time results of the winners, exclusive behind-the-scenes moments, live news broadcasts from the red carpet, exclusive videos and photos, and more. All of this made the Filmfare Awards the most talked about Indian award show of the year on Twitter.


Hashtags are the anchors of any solid conversation; they enable users to discover and participate in what others are talking about for an issue they care about. With 7 of the top 10 hashtags this year related to the #Rio2016 Olympics and #WT20 cricket, sports dominated the trending Twitter conversations for the nation. The government’s flagship programme, #MakeInIndia is also one of the most popular Hashtag Trends of the year with its global appeal.

The Year On Twitter: #ThisHappened in India in 2016

1. #Rio2016
All conversations surrounding this exciting sporting global moment converged on Twitter, as Indians Tweeted using the #Rio2016 hashtag. The hashtag united the country in this moment of national prominence and the Tweets reflected the pride, thrill and joy of Indians everywhere as Indian athletes won medals at the Olympics and received well-deserved cheers on the platform.

2. #IndvsPak
The two national teams enthralled fans with a cut-throat match in the group stage of the ICC WT20 tournament. The cricket mania took Twitter by storm as aficionados from either side of the border Tweeted fervently with #IndvsPak to join the conversation on the platform on March 19th.

3. #WT20
The apex international championship of Twenty20 cricket was religiously Tweeted about by the nation’s ardent cricket lovers. Fans rejoiced at every six and coped together with every wicket by using the #WT20 hashtag from March 15 - April 3.

4. #IndvsAus
India battled it out against the Aussies in the group stage of the WT20 tournament. Enthusiastic Indians Tweeted their support for the national team with the #IndvsAus hashtag and celebrated the national win when India beat Australia on March 27th.

5. #MakeInIndia
The Government of India uses Twitter to promote their flagship #MakeInIndia programme that encourages companies to manufacture their products in India. The Government shared updates on new deals, joint ventures and tech transfers using this hashtag around the world. Large corporations as well as SMBs across various verticals also Tweeted regarding developments related to this global #MakeInIndia initiative.

6. #IndvsWI
India vs West Indies was the penultimate knockout semi-final game in the WT20 tournament. #IndvsWI trended all day on March 31st and Tweets regarding the much anticipated match took over the Twitter timeline. West Indies won the match and millions of broken-hearted Indians still stood strong with Team India, in a display of true passion.

7. #IndvsBan
Indians around the world were united with #IndvsBan as fans Tweeted to fellow cricket lovers and joined the conversation on March 23rd. India clinched the thrilling WT20 match by defeating Bangladesh by 1 run and Twitter reflected the sentiments of this joyous moment.

8. #PVSindhu
India’s 1.2 billion people stood behind PV Sindhu (@Pvsindhu1) as she set out to compete against world #1 Carolina Mari in the Olympic Badminton Women’s Final. She became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal at the Olympics and Indians took to Twitter to congratulate her. #PVSindhu became an inspiring story for women empowerment as young women, mothers, and well-known women icons in India came together on Twitter to celebrate her victory.

9. #surgicalstrike
Debates and discussions ensued on Twitter after the Indian Army carried out a surgical strike against Pakistan on September 29th, following the Uri Attack. The nation stood divided in favour of or against this choice of action that led to a significant number of casualties of Indian soldiers.

10. #JNU
Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar was slapped with sedition charges and arrested on February 13th for a speech he gave at an event held on campus to mark the third anniversary of terror convict Afzal Guru’s hanging. The #JNU hashtag took Twitter by storm as people debated over serious issues such as condemning freedom of speech that this arrest reflected.


The list of the Most Followed Indians on Twitter in 2016 saw PM Narendra Modi (@NarendraModi) finally reaching the #1 position with 24.6 million followers (ahead of the entire gamut of Bollywood stars) by adding a whopping 8.8 million followers this year alone. Meanwhile, Priyanka Chopra (@priyankachopra) leaped ahead of Hrithik Roshan (@iHrithik) into the #7 spot with her global appeal from her hit US show ‘Quantico’ and her debut on the Oscar stage as a presenter earlier this year.

The Year On Twitter: #ThisHappened in India in 2016


As the Twitter family continues to grow, here are some of the notable accounts that came on board in 2016:

1. Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan): Tamil superstar Kamal Hassan graced his fans on Twitter with his presence by joining the platform on Republic Day. The actor made a memorable First Tweet with a video of him singing the National Anthem, composed by veteran music director Ilayaraja. Kamal garnered over 30,000 followers in 24 hours which was a reflection of the admiration and support he receives from his fans.

2. Sakshi Malik (@SakshiMalik): India’s pride Sakshi Malik joined Twitter earlier this year. She made waves on the platform with her performance at the Rio Olympic Games by clinching the bronze medal in wrestling. Her video Tweet where she is thanking her fans was also her Most Retweeted Tweet.

Dipa Karmakar (@DipaKarmakar): Dipa Karmakar, the first Indian female gymnast ever to compete in the Olympics joined Twitter during the Rio games. She took to Twitter to connect with her supporters and wished them a Happy Independence Day in her Most Retweeted Tweet.

Twitter is also offering a year-end special emoji so people can share the biggest moments and memories of 2016. If you Tweet with #ThisHappened hashtag from now until January 5, 2017, the special Twitter emoji will come with your Tweet.

We wish you all the best for 2017 and thank you for continuing to use Twitter as the fastest way for you to see what’s happening in India and the world.