The last year has been unlike any other. It was the year when an unprecedented pandemic shut down almost the entire world and nearly froze time. It was the year when isolation and loss became the 'new normal', along with Zoom call weddings, job interviews and even funerals. It was the year of canceled plans and lost opportunities.
And yet, it seems that Indians (still) cared the most about - you guessed it - cricket. Despite the coronavirus pandemic and related searches and queries setting the mood for this year's Google Search trends, recent statistics released by Google indicate that IPL (Indian Premier League) was the most searched Google trend in India in 2020.
What Indians Googled most in 2020
Yes, in a year that saw millions of deaths and widespread loss of livelihood across the world, 'IPL' was the top trending search in India.
Coronavirus came only a close second. Yet the pandemic and related topics and queries remained the most searched trends on Google,
the annual Google 'Year in Search' report revealed.
Searches related to coronavirus tests and queries like 'Covid-19 test near me' also spiked. But even more than tests, peolpe searched for 'food shelters near me'.
The third most searched query on Google in 2020 was, surprisingly, 'Cracker shop near me'. If that was not alarming enough, the fifth most searched query was 'night shelters' near me, beaten only by searches for liquor stores.
Apart from cricket and coronavirus, Indians were also interested in the United States elections which took place in November with 'US Elections' being the third most searched term.
The PM Kisan Yojana and Bihar Elections concluded the top five searches. Search queries on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act also made it to top 5 'What is' queries, with thousands trying to find out what was 'CAA'.
Most searched people
US President-elect Joe Biden became the most searched personality in India in 2020, followed closely by television news anchor Arnab Goswami. The US elections garnered considerable attention from Indians, perhaps due to Biden's Indian-origin running mate Kamala Harris, who herself was one of the top searched personalities in India.
On the other hand, Goswami's recent arrest by Maharashtra Police and subsequent bail in a 2014 abetment to suicide case following his deeply criticized reportage of the Shushant Singh Rajput death case also made him one of the most searched Indians. Singer and actress Kanika Kapoor who tested positive for coronavirus at the start of the covid-19 pandemic was the third most searched personality.
Indians also searched for North Korea chief Kim Jong-un whose brief disappearance earlier in the year caused a stir and Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan. The latter had tested positive for coronavirus earlier in the year and millions of fans had poured in support and prayers from all quarters at the time.
Pop culture burst
While almost all the 'What is' queries were dominated by coronavirus, Google registered thousand of queries seeking the answer 'What is Binod' - a reference to the viral social media sensation and meme that grew out of a YouTube video.
Indians also watched Desi web series more with Indian series like 1992 Scam: The Harshad Mehta Story beating Bigg Boss 14 to become the second most searched show along with Mirzapur 2 and Paatal Lok. Netflix's Money Heist, however, took the cake with the most searches.
Dil Beparvah, the Sushant Singh Rajput starrer film which released after his tragic death by suicide also became the most searched Indian film on Google.
The pandemic also seems to have brought an onslaught of new stay-at-home hobbies. Google statistics cite a 70 percent increase in online food ordering related queries and 137 per cent increase in queries related to mobile gaming.
Google search history is usually a reminder of the year gone by, not only at a national level but also for all of us personally. And this year's search history is just as mixed a bag as the year itself, bleak yet littered with nuggets of hope.
2020 has been a devastating year for many. But it might be heartening to find that 70 percent of the total searches on Google in 2020 came from outside of the 6 major metro cities, indicating deeper internet penetration. At a time when online connectivity is crucial to education and employment, the statistics might just be welcome.
So in case you are wondering what Indians tried to do most of this pandemic? The answer is: make paneer. And sanitizer. (At home, of course).