When people talk of Bihar, often they just hark back to age-old tropes like litti-chokha or Bhojpuri language. "But the state is much more than this. Here, each region has its own distinct cuisine, like the mutton from Champaran or the tastes of Mithila. YouTubers and food connoisseurs from other parts of India are coming to Bihar to document these unique cuisines,” says Shruti Rajput, a 24-year-old food blogger who is part of the YouTube channel 'Zaika Patna Ka' and studies at the prestigious Patna Women’s College. Zaika Patna Ka Mayank Kumar, a civil engineer who runs the channel. He and a team of three other food bloggers including Neha Poddar (@happiness_on_my_plate), Shruti Rajput (@urgeforfood) & Atulit Ranjan (@bhukadaatma), visit cafes, restaurants and eateries around town and make review videos. Neha, 24, has a Master of Commerce degree is a teacher at an NGO. Shruti, who is also 24, studies at the prestigious Patna Women's College and earns her pocket money through food blogs. Atulit, 26 is a Pharmacy graduate. Together, the small but talented team is trying to break the stereotypes and myths attached to the term ‘Bihari’
Like the Zaika team, there’s Sakshi Sahay, another 24-year-old student from Patna, who runs an eponymous YouTube channel and is able to make a considerable living from posting YouTube videos on sewing, embroidery, food and beauty tips. She shoots and edits these videos without any high-end equipment, and learnt the technical side of things solely through experimentation. The multi-talented girl tells us that during the lockdowns, being unable to go anywhere, she started to shoot everything she did to bide her time. As her mother is adept at sewing and embroidery, Sakshi picked the finer nuances of this craft at home. In the beginning, the young influencer was disappointed by the lack of views for videos made with a lot of hard work. Slowly the subscriber base increased and so did her earnings, which gave Sakshi a big boost. Even her family has become more understanding of her method of earning a livelihood, says Sakshi. These days, it is them that she turns to for the first feedback.
What brings these young content creators together is the passion to keep up the fight for what they believe in. The IT boom and widespread access to the internet and smartphones have opened new avenues for YouTubers and social media influencers across India. People no longer only consume content but also produce it, thereby contributing to the country’s GDP. Commonly dubbed as YouTubers, they are technically YouTube creators. According to a study by consultancy Oxford Economics, YouTube creators contributed 6,800 crore rupees to the Indian economy in 2020. The sector also provided direct and indirect employment to 6.82 lakh people, proving that the medium must be taken seriously. The figures are even more astonishing if you include other social media platforms that influencers use apart from YouTube.
Avineet Aanand, 25, from Aurangabad and currently working in Patna, prefers to call himself an ‘Affliate Marketeer’. When asked to expand on its meaning, Anand says that he is paid a commission once he successfully helps a brand sell its product, operating through Meta-run Facebook and WhatsApp, and Telegram groups. He takes up offers from major brands such as Amazon directly to communicate their initiatives in simple language using mediums such as websites. If needed, he uploads videos associated with products on YouTube for an add-on source of revenue.
Nobody could have predicted that the market linked with the video-sharing platform would grow into such a behemoth, provide employment to lakhs of people and contribute crores to the economy. According to a 2021 economic study by Oxford, YouTube content creators contributed Rs 6,800 crore to the Indian economy in 2021. However, in the case of Bihar, the picture is not entirely rosy when it comes to such creators or the content they produce. Many such content creators and pages are platforms for hate speeches, incendiary comments, obscenity and sexism. The race for views and hits based on keywords and searches on Google and social media mean nearly 500 videos being uploaded every minute. To differentiate their content and create a niche following, many video creators turn to obscene or objectionable content. Since these mediums are often monitored through artificial intelligence, the creators are able to exploit loopholes. In the race for views and ads, ethics often take a back seat. The question that has been hanging in the air for a while now is ‘who is accountable for these issues?’