Seek and you shall find the general pulse of humankind. The Google Zeitgeist report for this year plots the trends recorded by Google Search from 1.2 trillion queries in 146 languages from 55 countries, divided into categories for news, images, people, places, consumer electronics, athletes, hashtags, et cetera. Compared with last year’s global trends, this year’s trends were collected from seven more countries and include more country-wise categories. The search topics are laid out in 838 nifty, compact lists of the top 10 ‘most searched’ and ‘trending’ items, but do not divulge anything in terms of figures or granular data, depriving us the opportunity to indulge in some data porn.

Trending people
Speaking of porn, the most trending person on Google in India was Canadian-born actor Sunny Leone. Bollywood icons Rajesh Khanna and Yash Chopra who passed away this year were the second and seventh respectively. Actor Poonam Pandey rose to the occasion yet again, climbing up one position from the fourth spot in last year’s Zeitgeist report. She is the only person on the Google India search trends from last year to have made it to the list of the top 10 most searched people this year. The Bollywood fixation continued with actors Sherlyn Chopra, Saif Ali Khan, Diana Penty and debutante actor Alia Bhatt making it to the list. Controversial godman Nirmal Baba who faced legal allegations of fraud and cheating this year figures on the fifth spot. Vilasrao Deshmukh, former Maharashtra Chief Minister, who passed away in August was the tenth trending person. Last year’s top searched people were more diverse, including actors, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and singer Justin Bieber.

Trending searches
The top three searches in India pertained to employment (“Institute of Banking Personnel Selection”), education (“GATE exams”, the qualifying test to enrol for graduate courses in the IITs), and Sunny Leone. Searches for CBSE exam results fell to position six from last year’s position three. The upgraded version of the Aakash tablet was released this year and showcased at the United Nation. The low cost educational tablet made it to the eighth spot. Online retail portal that started its operations in January 2012 was at tenth place.

Most searched news
A failing airline, the death of a former chief minister, a cyclone in another part of the world, a politician allegedly caught with his pants down on tape – news searches were dominated by political figures, finance, death and disasters. Hurricane Sandy was at position two, while “earthquake in Chennai” (April 2012) was at position eight. Activist Anna Hazare who was among the most searched people last year was the fourth most searched in the news category. Aseem Trivedi who was arrested on charges for sedition for his cartoons was fifth. The news of Pranab Mukherjee assuming office as the new president made it to the ninth place.

Most searched movies
It was the year of sequels at Google Search: Jannat 2, Housefull 2, Raaz 3, and Jism 2 took consecutive spots from three to six. Raaz 3 was India’s second 3D horror movie; Sunny Leone made her Bollywood debut in Jism 2. Barfi, India’s nomination for the Oscars made it to the seventh position. The most searched movie was Ek Tha Tiger. At the tenth spot was Vicky Donor, a fictional story of a sperm donor.

Most searched local places
This category has the most interesting searches. The top ranked place, “Yamuna Express Highway, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India”, opened in August is India’s second greenfield expressway. A pet project of the state government, it met with protests against land acquisition, and is located close to the Formula One circuit. The second most searched was Freedom Park in Bengaluru that witnessed an indefinite fast by four people in support of Anna Hazare’s demand for the enactment of the Lokpal Bill. Ramlila Maidan in Delhi that witnessed much political activism against corruption, apart from its annual festivities too made it to the list. The motley group of places also includes the Delhi Zoo, which is receiving a makeover this year; popular places of worship (Meenakshi Amman temple, Madurai and Siddhivinayak temple, Mumbai); and buzz centres of technology (IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, IBM, International Technology Park, Bengaluru). Going by the list, the places that were the most frequented or piqued the most curiosity were hubs of technology, religion, or activism.

Trending travel destinations
Four out of the top 10 travel destinations were places of pilgrimage – Vaishno Devi, Amarnath, Shirdi, and Rameshwaram. Green, tropical, fecund Kerala was the top travel destination. Munnar, nestled in the Nilgiris in Kerala, was eighth. The Taj Mahal ranked second. The Gateway of India, tenth.

The Google Zeitgesit chronicles the things that capture the imagination of the hoi polloi, the online life and times of the common netizen, the spirit of the time.

This video talks about world trends this year:

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