India-China Political Outburst Leads to 200M Dejected TikTok Users!

Political outbreak and Censorship has disrupted the image of the ‘TikTok Star’ and the loss is unbearable for every Indian with a TikTok account.

How TikTok Became The Music Industry's New Fame Machine - Rolling ...
Photo Credit: Rolling Stone

The Indian government recently banned over 60 Chinese apps in India, one of them happens to be the latest youth sensation, TikTok. A national security concern arose after a deadly clash between India and China’s military troupe, triggering patriotic emotions between the countries. Around 20 Indian soldiers were found dead and an unknown set of casualties surrounding Chinese military group which raised a border dispute between these popular nations.

Though this situation would raise fear of a disturbing bloodbath between the two nations, India took a rather colder approach and banned the platform that was unfortunately the livelihood of many Indians today, ‘TikTok.’ The voice of a million users shunned in a jiffy!

Why would the Indian government launch a war on China? Well, for starters lack of economic, military and nuclear power made India take different means and target Chinese apps that are growing rapidly in every Indian household today. China seems to be generating so much income with every new account that appears on TikTok. According to The NewYork Times, ‘Analysts say up to a third of TikTok’s global users are based in India.’

Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal on TikTok | Photo Credit: The NewIndian express

Ranging from stay-at-home mums flaunting their inner Bollywood actress, cool teens doing lip-sync videos or jumping on the global #TikTokchallenges and even farmers battling the forces of nature to grow crops can’t seem to get enough of this app. TikTok became a world stage for not just India but world-wide, to portray their flair. Without any doubt, TikTok began as a mediocre app meant to entertain users. Eventually it acquired all the characteristics of success but its ban has devastated the so-called influencers who gained fame and fortune through this app.

All those TikTok influencers that boomed to stardom must now find alternate space to start creating again. They must start fresh and they must start soon, or risk disappointing the millions of followers that put faith in them for the sake of entertainment.

TikTok has been installed more than 610 million times in India, according to estimates by Sensor Tower. | Photo Credit: NYTimes

The most affected section of people due to the ‘TikTok Ban’ is interestingly not millennials but the budding Gen Z population who were ruling the roost. Abhirami K, 20, posted short videos of performances on Malayalam-language songs (a South-Indian language) and is now in complete disbelief as she loses over 1M followers. In an interview with BloombergQuint, she mentions;

“I’m not sure what will happen next, will the app be back or not. The kind of popularity I have is because of TikTok.”

While it might seem strange to some, posting a 15-second video of dance, mimicry or just making cringe-worthy facial expressions, was all considered ‘content’ and it continued to take complete control of an individual.

But despite this insensitive attachment towards an app in the wake of military tragedy, teens have been using TikTok to raise awareness too. On April 6, 2020, the District Youth Services Department of Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala (2 well-known cities in the state of Punjab), started an interesting competition called, ‘Best TikToker competition’. Targeting an age range between 18-35, this challenge meant to be creative yet effective in persuading their followers to follow the ‘safe hand challenge’ and other measures to prevent contracting Covid-19.

This turned out to be a successful campaign as about 20-30 awareness videos reached Preet Kohli, Assistant Director at District Youth Services Department. He was extremely overwhelmed and took pride in watching those videos where the TikTokers are seen cleaning their door knobs or helping the poor at difficult times like this. In a conversation with TribuneIndia, Preet said;

“To overcome boredom, people are highly active on TikTok these days. They make funny videos in which you can see husband washing utensils or children lip-sync to songs or famous dialogues. After realising the craze for TikTok among youngsters, I got this idea of best video competition and people would get motivated to keep themselves safe.”

Protesters on the streets to stop the spread of Chinese apps | Photo Credit: WSJ

Following the loss of an essential part of their lives, there has been an array of mixed emotions in the hearts of Indians. Some still grieving at the loss of their heroes on the borders, and others neglecting this and shedding tears over losing followers. To them, each follower meant a closer step to stardom. The news on TikTok’s ban has been unbearable for so many, also partly due to losing all those videos on the app that they can never retrieve. Stardom constructed over few years, wrecked without prior warning, that’s how they see it.

For some, it was merely about losing fan-following but for few others, it ripped away their identity. Take a look at Faisal, 20 from a small town, Kannauj from Uttar Pradesh, who had over 20,000 followers on TikTok gave an emotional interview with the BBC Net; 

“If there was a place to showcase our talent, it was TikTok. Nothing else could make us popular,” while adding, “the government should think about us so the hidden talent of people can come out. TikTok gave us a new identity.”

Now he has accepted the harsh reality and is moving on towards a better future but also requests the government to keep in mind that TikTok was their only chance to represent who they really were. Their personalities were carved on TikTok. Faisal is one among those many TikTok users that rose to fame and has suddenly collapsed to the ground. Though he is in favour of the actions taken by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, he still hopes for the government to give back what they seized.

A still of the Mitron app | Photo Credit: RepublicWorld

Alternatively, a creative social platform similar to TikTok called, ‘Mitron‘ has been winning the hearts of Indians too. With more than 10M downloads and a 4 star rating on Google Play, this app is the new beginning many Indian TikToker’s are turning to. Shivank Agarwal, a student of IIT Roorkee, Uttarakhand created this app in April 2020. For those TikToker’s that lost a huge part of their identity, it is time to re-launch themselves, bigger than ever  through ‘Mitron‘.

Because apps may come and apps may go, but talent doesn’t need a platform to thrive, all it takes is courage to rise back from the ashes.

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