There was a time when you had set up focus groups, conduct surveys, and interview people to figure out the pulse of the nation. Now you just see what they’re doing online.
Google search data shows that Indians have been furiously looking up ways to buy property in Kashmir ever since the government abolished Articles 370 and Article 35 A. The Indian government yesterday broke up Jammu and Kashmir into two separate union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, which effectively annulled the two controversial articles. Article 35A, in particular, decreed that only permanent residents of Kashmir could buy property in the state, and as soon as it was done away with, Indians across the country have been looking up ways to buy property in Kashmir.
Google searches for “Kashmir Property” have spiked from nearly zero to their highest level ever right after the official announcement was made. The searches rose slightly on the night of 4th August, when internet services were first cut in Kashmir, perhaps following rumours that the government was looking to abolish Article 35A. But the searches started rising steadily at 10:30 am, around the time Amit Shah started speaking in Parliament. They peaked at 1:30 pm, and then rose through the day, and finally peaked at 12:30 am the next day.
A similar trend was seen for search terms “Kashmir land” and “Kashmir flats”.
And the interest didn’t seem confined to one part of India — searches came from all over. The greatest searches for “Kashmir property”, though, came from Delhi, perhaps because of its relative proximity to Kashmir, and its spending power — Delhi has the second highest GDP per capita across all of India. Interest also seemed to be more pronounced in the states around Kashmir, indicating people from nearby states would look to buy property there — Uttrakhand, Punjab and Haryana were all in the top five. Searches were also high in Maharashtra, again perhaps because of the high spending power in its capital of Mumbai.