Bollywood: Amitabh Bachchan.
@SrBachchan, 20.7 million followers.
Amitabh made his filmi debut in 1969 and became a superstar in the 1970s. The Grand Old Man has been around for ages, but he is no fossil. He was one of the first people to jump on the blogging bandwagon and did it quite regularly. He is a regular Tweeter too and has notched close to 50,000 Tweets till date.
Politics: Narendra Modi.
@narendramodi, 19.6 million followers.
So the Indian Twitterverse produces its first ever Prime Minister. That may be a bit of a hyperbole, but Twitter has a big role in Modi’s rise to the top spot of India. No Indian politician comes close. (Many years ago @ShashiTharoor was the leader though). But more than anything is how Modi has used Twitter to fire his ambitions. He has connected with the young in social networking and Modi’s army regularly ReTweet him and fight for him. There are also handles which translate his Tweets into various Indian languages.
Spirituality: Dalai Lama.
@DalaiLama, 12.7 million followers.
The Dalai Lama came to India in 1959 and since then has been a resident here calling himself a “son of the soil”. His Tweets are inspiring and spread a great deal of goodwill and harmony. Incidentally, he is following exactly zero people. He was India’s leader till 2014 but since then has fallen way behind.
Official account: PMO India.
@PMOIndia: 11 million followers.
There was hardly any traction to this account when Manmohan Singh was in charge. However it has zoomed ahead after Modi took over. It’s also always buzzing with activity a sort of government news feed and a lit of achievements. On Twitter Modi + PMO amounts to 30 million plus followers!
Cricket: Sachin Tendulkar.
@sachin_rt, 10.7 million followers.
When Sachin joined Twitter, the Indian Twitterverse went berserk. He picked up tens of thousands of followers in no time. He soon became the first Indian to notch up 1 million followers. However since then many Bollywood stars have left him way behind. That’s probably because of his lacklustre form towards the end of his career and subsequent retirement. Sachin is erratic in his Tweets, but still writes enough to keep his die-hard fans engaged. Virat Kohli is close on his heels with 10.5 million followers.
PIO: Aziz Ansari.
@azizansari, 10.5 million followers.
Indian Americans are doing very well and on Twitter at least, Aziz is the clear leader. He has his roots in Tamil Nadu and is stand-up comedian who has been part of many tours. He has acted in many TV shows with the most prominent being Parks and Recreation. Aziz visited India a few years back and joked that he could act in a Tamil action movie. Indians may not be familiar with him but may have heard his voice in Hollywood movies like Ice Age: Continental Drift (Squint) and Epic (Mub).
News handle: The Times of India.
@timesofindia: 6.9 million followers.
India’s oldest newspaper and the English daily with the most circulation manages to hold its ground on Twitter too. With close to a quarter of a million Tweets, it continues to pull its weight in the Indian Twitterverse.
Authors: Chetan Bhagat.
@chetan_bhagat, 6.9 million followers.
You’ve got to hand it to Bhagat: Whether you like his books or not, he definitely has built himself as a big brand. Twitter plays an integral part in that. Out of all the celebrities, Bhagat is probably the most active and interactive. He never shies from controversies and his Tweets always make news. Once when he blocked a few people many years back, #ChetanBlocks became a top trend. His open support for Modi got him many bouquets and brickbats. AAP followers also keep attacking him from time to time.
Industrialists: Ratan Tata.
@RNTata2000, 6.1 million followers.
Everybody Loves Ratan Tata! In real life too and also on Twitter. This despite the fact that he’s hardly active on this medium. For ages it used to be @TheVijayMallya who is much more active but has since fallen on bad times.
Comedians: Kapil Sharma.
@KapilSharmaK9: 5.2 million followers.
Comedy Nights With Kapil saw a meteoric rise and its hero became one in Bollywood movies too. Kapil is a superstar in his own right and was a late entrant on Twitter (he came in June 2013), but he’s on top here too.
Indians are rising in in the Global Top 100 list and we currently have Amitabh, Modi, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra and Hrithik Roshan. In mid-2014 from Bollywood there was only Amitabh, but with 7 more apart from him and more in the next 100, they are taking over Twitter! Priyanka has a great chance to go even further thanks to her exposure to the West.
The current leader is Katy Perry, the first to get 50 million followers, narrowly edging out Justin Bieber in the race for that landmark. She’s close to 88 million and must be eyeing the 100 million mark.
As far as the next Indian landmark is concerned, it remains to be seen who reaches 25 million followers first.
Modi’s victory Tweet got 80,000+ RTs.
© Sunil Rajguru
(This post first came on May 26, 2014. This is the updated version with a lot of changes.)