Vibhu Arya’s plan to localise India’s digital economy has already received a boost by the Indian government’s ban on Tiktok and several other Chinese apps. The ban however did not attract much protest from the people in India, a country so diverse that every policy move is likely to face resistance from some quarter or the other. Partly explained by the nationalistic sentiment prevailing in the country in the wake of the border tensions with China. But also the fact that TikTok’s rage was beyond the mainstream urban centres and escaped discourse. The article talks about how the ban is affecting lives of Indians in small towns and villages in many ways – socially and economically.
“…In India, TikTok isn’t just a teen craze. It’s a livelihood for some people. It has given birth to new social media celebrities, many of them working-class folks, like Rathod, in villages far from India’s cosmopolitan megacities. They’ve used the app to find fame, empowerment and even a path out of poverty. But now, India’s TikTok stars have become collateral damage in a geopolitical flare-up between the world’s two most populous countries.
TikTok is estimated to have been downloaded more than 2 billion times. Before the ban, up to a third of its regular users — some 200 million people — were believed to be in India, analysts say. It was the app’s biggest market, in terms of traffic, outside China.
Unlike Facebook-owned Instagram, which in India supports only Hindi and English, TikTok supports several Indian languages. TikTok’s loyalists are often India’s second-tier towns or villages. Many were first-time social media users, unable to read or write English, drawn to TikTok in part because it’s primarily video and not text-heavy like Twitter or Facebook, according to NPR interviews with Indian TikTok users and analysts.
Here’s a sampling of stars: a goatherd lip-syncing to a romantic Bollywood song from the 1990s; a partially blind man dancing in a field with his wife; a queer makeup artist breaking gender stereotypes.
“Before TikTok, small-town Indians who aspired to showcase their talent had to move to the big city to get noticed,” says Sumit Jain, an amateur dancer who owns a clothing shop in a town 200 miles from Bollywood’s capital, Mumbai. “TikTok lets us do that from home.”
Jain, a skinny 28-year-old with a mop of curly hair, has 3.8 million followers on the app — down from more than 4 million before the ban.”.

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