The Great Indian Demonetization

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a surprise move on 8th November 2016 declared the two largest currency bills (Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500) illegal. This action is primarily targeted towards reducing fake currency that’s in circulation in India and the massive amount of black money that corrupt people hold. It’s too early to discuss whether the move is good or bad. However, it doesn’t stop people from giving their opinions.

There are two primary hashtags on Twitter that are in use – #demonetization and #demonetisation. Note the difference in the spelling. The first is Americal English and the second is British English. I thought it might be interesting to analyze the tweets that used one over the other hashtag. It’s possible that some people used both but the chances are that they didn’t because the hashtags are long and take up too much space.

My hypothesis was that the tweets with hashtags with British spelling will be more negative because they are likely to originate from India. Like the people in most countries, Indians are also quite vocal on Twitter. Besides it is massively gamed by all the political parties. Currently all the opposition parties in India have opposed the move so I expected that they must be funding negative publicity on Twitter. They are likely to use the hashtag with British spelling.

On the other hand, many non resident Indians are likely to be unaffected by this move. The apparent benefits to the economy are large while the cost to individuals who don’t live in India is small. So the people who are using the Americam spelling are likely to be more positive about demonetization.

However, many foreign publications such as CNN, NY Times, WaPost, etc. may also tweet about this with the American hashtag. From my past experience, these publications have a severe bias against righ wing parties and Modi in general. This will likely make the comparison more difficult.

I downloaded 5,000 tweets for each hashtag. After cleaning the tweets and running a simple text analysis for identifying the sentiment as positive, negative, or neutral, this is what I found.


Figure 1: #demonetization

So we have almost twice as much tweets with positive sentiment for demonetization. Note that these tweets used the American English spelling. Now let’s take a look at the British spelling.


Figure 2: #demonetisation

Well, I get the samle pattern with about double the tweets with positive sentiment than negative sentiment! So I can’t reject the null hypothesis of no difference. In other words, this will always remain a blog post 😉

Just for fun, I also plotted the wordcloud for both.


Figure 3: Wordcloud for #demonetization


Figure 4: Wordcloud for #demonetisation

10 Richest Indians

I was trying out a cool new R package forbesListR, which lets you download lists from Forbes website. The package still needs a lot of work but I could download data on India’s 100 richest people from 2012 to 2015. As I was playing around with the data, I decided to plot it out using the following ggplot2 code



ggplot(a, aes(x=reorder(name,rank),y=net_worth.millions,fill=year2)) +
  geom_bar(stat="identity",position = position_dodge(width=0.9)) +
  geom_text(aes(label=scales::comma(net_worth.millions), angle=90),
            position = position_dodge(width=0.9),vjust=0.2,hjust= 1.2,color="white") +
  theme_fivethirtyeight() +
  scale_y_continuous(labels = scales::comma) +
  xlab("Name") + ylab("Net Worth in Million $") +
  guides(fill=guide_legend(title=NULL)) +
  ggtitle("Net Worth in Million $")

In my code, “a” was the edited list of 10 richest Indians.

I deleted Hinduja family and Godrej family from the data although they were in the top 10 and instead decided to focus on individuals. You can download the data from here.

India top 10

Mukesh Ambani is still the richest Indian although Dilip Shangvi is a close second. I thought that Gautam Adani’s rise in 2014 and 2015 is quite interesting. Similarly, Cyrus Poonawalla has increased its net worth substantially in these two years. On the other hand, Laxmi Mittal lost more than $ 4.5 billion due to falling steel prices.

Finally, Shiv Nadar of HCL increased his worth from $5.6 billion in 2012 to a staggering $12.9 billion in 2015. I think he has been a clear winner.

2012 in review

I am quite lazy when it comes to updating my blogs. Turns out that even after writing just 12 blog posts this year, I still attracted 5,000+ readers. Here is a summary of this year.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Links for Lecture 4 – 23/08/2012

Ayojak Website –

Ayojak Blog –

Ayojak Facebook Page –

Ayojak Twitter –

EventAvenue –

MeraEvents –

DoAttend –

Bookmyshow –

Bookmyshow iPhone App –

Social technographics –

Social technographic profile tool –

Targeting Eligible “Indians” – A Poll

In the screenshot below, you will see an ad for Indian Dating website appearing next to an article about native Americans, i.e., the mislabeled “Indians”! Please take the poll at the end of this post. The poll asks who you think is responsible for this misplacement of the advertisement.

Indian dating website’s ad was shown next to an article about native Americans

True Costs of Social Media

This is a longer version of my article that was published in “Today,” a Singaporean newspaper.

One of the most attractive features of social medium is that usually it costs nothing. For example, two of the most widely used social networks, Facebook (more than 900 million users) and Twitter (more than 500 million users), allow individuals as well as businesses to use their services for free. No wonder companies rush to set up Facebook fan pages and Twitter accounts to engage with their customers, all at low to no direct costs. As the old saying goes, the best things in life are free. For the companies battered by economic downturn, rising costs, and fierce competition, the apparently costless social media indeed seem like the best things.

Skeptics argue that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Although social networking has fundamentally changed the way consumers communicate with brands, there is no reason to believe that everything about it is positive. The most often cited concern about social media is the privacy issues surrounding user data. Facebook and Google, for instance, have been subjected to numerous criticisms about invasion of their users’ privacy through monitoring user activities. For the companies using social media, however, the same privacy concerns are hardly relevant. If so, are there any real social media costs to companies?

I identify two critical costs that many companies seem to be ignoring at their own peril. The first cost arises due to the lack of understanding of the actual working of social media. Starting a Facebook fan page is indeed very easy. The real challenge is attracting consumers to the fan page by creating engaging content and continuously participating in a genuine dialog with them. Similar devotion is required to manage Twitter, corporate blogs, or YouTube brand channels. Content creation is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges managers encounter while using social media. Ideally, companies should hire and train talented employees to do this. But influenced by the fallacy that social media are free, many companies are unwilling to invest in them.

A firm that desires a meaningful social media presence needs to pour resources in content creation and user engagement. As a testimony to the importance of this endeavor, countless dormant Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and corporate blogs demonstrate the lack of resource commitment. A firm also has to develop processes internally to ensure seamless working of the social media team. For example, if customers complain about product quality, the social media team should be able to communicate the problem to production or quality control department immediately, get the problem resolved, and communicate back to the customers. This requires setting up a system that fundamentally differs from most existing systems implemented in organizations. More importantly it requires a shift in the organizational culture, which is perhaps the hardest thing to do.

The second cost emanates from the risks that come with the viral nature of Internet. Just one mistake on the social media can wipe out brand equity worth millions of dollars. I document several such examples from the USA in a developing manuscript.[1] Whereas social media enable instant communication with consumers, they also lead to increased risk of magnifying small errors into gigantic blunders. A recent case of the US automobile manufacturer Chrysler exemplifies the presence of such risks. Last year Chrysler ran a multi-million dollar advertising campaign and branded Detroit as “Motor City.” It was a branding effort that aimed at solidifying the identity of Detroit as the birthplace of indigenous American cars. However, one rogue Tweet from Chrysler’s official Twitter account jeopardized the entire campaign and brought it to brink of collapse.

An employee of the social media agency in charge of Chrysler’s Twitter account Tweeted complaining, “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to [expletive deleted] drive.” The offending Tweet appeared on the Web only momentarily and was pulled down almost immediately. In pre social media days, such mistakes would have been less visible and more controllable. However, today this rogue Tweet remains alive on several blogs in the form of screenshot image. It is far more likely that such incidents get noticed on the social media, which spreads the news like a wildfire. The viral nature of social media can be devastating. The benefits of social media can’t be isolated from the enhanced risk of sudden development of crises, which may bring down the whole business. If companies don’t account for this risk while weighing costs and benefits of social media, their illusion of “free marketing” remains unaltered depriving them of a rational analysis.

To summarize, managers and owners of businesses, especially small businesses, should take into account at least the investments required in creating and maintaining social media presence and the enhanced risks of crises due to viral nature of social media. Indeed there is no such thing as free social media!