Chinese Apps, Tiktok and Indian Youth

By Mayura Choudhari

Gadgets have become our part of life, like the mobile phone, its like we just can't live without. People now don't just use their phones to make calls or send text meassages, but a lot of other stuff as well. Everything has been brought to just a tap of your finger. May it be shopping, banking, paying bills, booking cabs, finding properties or address or anything, it just a tap of your finger on the mobile screen and the work is done. But besides all this multi tasking, Mobile Phone's major use still remains to be entertainment.

People have now left sitting in front of the TV sets for hours and hours, instead they are now stuck to their mobile screens without blinking. Listening music or watching songs or movies on YouTube or other various available apps is what people are found doing most of their time. There is big population of apps available in the global online market. Many of them are free while some charge some amount. Besides the new technologies allows you to be a content creator yourself. There are ample of apps which allows you to record your videos and put it up for others to watch.

Most popular app these days is Tiktok. Tiktok is a 'Chinese app' which has interesting features to let you record your short videos from 15 seconds to 1 minute using some sound in the background for lip synch or original voice. It has become so popular in India that millions of Indians use it and many of them have become Tiktok stars to whom people follow from around the globe.

The 'Ban Chinese Products' Wave

Since the current Ban Chinese products wave is going on in India, people have started throwing out their Made-in-China TV sets out of their house balconies, burning the already purchased Chinese Products, crashing and dancing over them with loud slogans to ban Chinese Products. Recording videos to appeal people to uninstall Chinese apps. Irony is, people are making Tiktok videos to appeal people to ban Tiktok and sharing it through their Made-in-China (or assembled in china) smart phones. The question is will this move of Indian Tiktok users really affect Chinese economy which the uninstallers are aiming for.

There are more than fifty other Chinese apps that are popular amongst Indian population, for example, Beauty Plus, Cam Scanner, SHEIN, UC Browser, App Lock, Club Factory, ShareIt, etc. Like our Indian renowned scientist Mr Sonam Wangchuk also suggested to fight with china on the basis of wallet power and not with Bullet Power, will this be achieved by such moves of uninstallation of chinese apps or breaking down their made in china electronic products and gadgets?

Why Particularly Tiktok besides other chinese apps has become an antagonist?

PUBG a very popular online mobile game which was developed for PC by PUBG Corporation, which is a subsidiary of a Korean game developer, Bluehole. However, the Mobile version of the game was developed by Tencent Games, which is a Chinese developer.

Indian youth is going crazy about it specially the undergraduate ones, they are addicted to it so badly that it is there in their minds constantly, their discussions revolve just around the game. They have been recording their game with commentary and putting it up on Youtuber where others spend hours to watch it.

It is seen that the Indian youth, specially the teenagers are either engaged in Tiktok or in PUBG in mobile, both of which are chinese apps. Then why there is noise to ban Tiktok in particular and nothing about PUBG?

The reason is besides being a chinese app, Tiktok is being critizised for various other reasons too since a long time, much before the current Indo-China Border conflict. When it wasn't even named as Tiktok but 'musically', People showcased their talents of lip synchronisation, acting, singing, dancing, mimickry and a lot more within 15 seconds. It had features of various face beauty filters, so it was considered to be a very girly or feminine app. Any males making videos on Tiktok were teased of being not 'male enough' while war games such as PUBG is considered to be a masculine game. Men using Tiktok were teased and trolled online in their comment boxes as well as offline too, in their friend circles, calling them Gay or Trans. So there was a demand to ban Tiktok saying 'It is ruining our youth'.

Then came this hot debate of YouTube Vs Tiktok amongst the teenagers and youth, where YouTube content creators trolled tiktokers calling the content they create to be 'Cringe'. Many popular YouTubers participated on this issue and made trolling and roasting videos of Tiktokers. In those YouTube videos they are criticizing the tiktokers with castiest and classist slurs looking at the number of youth from socially deprived communities too making their own videos. There is a sense of a Savarna-sis-het Privileged, Castiest, Classist, Sexist or Mysoginist gaze about people using Tiktok.

What Ambedkarites are doing on Tiktok?

Like every other youth, the Ambedkarite youth too took the opportunity to showcase their talent in front of the camera. Besides entertainment they also started with an online Tiktok ambedkarite social movement, where they started making videos of awareness against religious superstitions, against mental slavery and put forth their assertion of existence, their ideologies, their idols and their parallel narratives. To which they started getting hate in the comment boxes.

Recently after a series of caste atrocious murders throughout India and particularly post Viraj Jagtap's murder (Pune), the Tiktok anticaste activists started making videos critiquing these atrocities and asking Justice for Viraj. As a result they started getting more hate and even death threats in abusive language in videos and comment boxes. To which they again did similar mistakes and it went on one on one and some resulted in police complaints. Thus many of them now have been suggested to uninstall Tiktok to keep themselves away from all such stuff.

In 1947, there were parallel fights of independence; one for National Independence and the other was for Independence of the Bahujans from Savarna Raj. Even today when the Nation is fighting at the Border with Chinese Army and Civilians trying to fight it at their level, there is a parallel fight of the still so called lower castes for their rght to live with dignity.

Mayura Choudhari is a co-founder of The Colourboard.


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