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Online Interest in Advani Rises

by Sanchia de Souza last modified Apr 02, 2011 03:58 PM
Article by Sruthi Krishnan in the Hindu, 15 May 2009, quoting CIS Research Director Nishant Shah

Online interest in BJP leader L.K. Advani reached its highest point in the last 12 months when a slipper was thrown at him. The data on Google Trends, an application that shows how often a search term has been sought for on Google over time, also shows that the interest in Mr. Advani’s name rose steadily as the general elections approached.

Contrary to what many consider as just another activity on the Internet, searching is the “backbone of cyberspace,” says Nishant Shah, Director (Research), Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore. .

The search for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shows a peak in July 2008 in the last 12 months, corresponding to the UPA Government winning the trust vote. That the interest in searching for public personalities closely mirrors news interest in the outside world is undeniable, says Mr. Shah. “The Internet is not as much a broadcast media as a search-and-find media.” Hence, in this context, the Internet acts as a “reference book” rather than a “best seller,” he says.

In the last 12 months, the political event that fired up Google in India was the launch of Praja Rajyam, coinciding with a spike in the search for actor Chiranjeevi’s name. This was the highest among the search history in the last 12 months of the ten most searched politicians in India on Google – a list released by Google recently.

The list includes Mr. Advani, Mr. Singh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

However, Mr. Shah cautions that in an emerging information society like India, an increase in online search for a particular name or event may not imply that it is popular across the country. “Given the limited amount of internet access and the almost homogeneous user group that has interactive access to being online, it means that within that particular class-language group, a certain event or person is gaining popularity.”

The analysis by Google Trends also shows that most of the searches for Mr. Chiranjeevi were made in Telugu, compared to English.

While Hyderabad is where the actor’s name was searched the most number of times, the top 10 cities includes San Jose and Houston in the United States.

Interestingly, Sanjay Dutt, the other actor in the list, generated the highest volume of searches in Pakistan.

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Read the article at the Hindu website here.

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