The app, with the icon of a dragon and two brooms crossed behind it, offers to identify all “Chinese apps” in one click and uninstall them. The Covid-19 outbreak had started what the recent LAC standoff has reinforced — circumspection about China — and the battleground is an app store.
Growing interest in “Indian apps” has meant Google search interest shooting up from 31 in the first week of May to 100 in the third week.
The top trending Android app — ‘Bharat Messenger’ — and two of the top 10 trending communication apps in India on Sunday had the “India-made” connect. Another app, ‘Indian Messenger’, had been dormant for about a year since it was launched. But on Sunday, it started trending at number 8 and went straight to a 4.4 rating. “Indian apps very good,” a reviewer wrote. The third app, strangely also called ‘Indian Messenger’, has been downloaded over 10 lakh times and has a 4.6 rating.
Driving these apps are three touchstones of China-centred rhetoric — data security (“Chinese apps are unsafe”), national supremacy (“China funds anti-national agents”) and Covid-19 (“China spread the virus”) — that come together to spur a need for virtual retribution.
“Every Indian knows that China has a big market capture in India with its products. China makes a lot of money and uses the same money in anti-India activity.” said the co-founder of OneTouch App Labs, the Jaipur-based startup that launched Remove China Apps, who did not want to be named. “China should pay for this.”
But these apps demand anywhere between 10 and 30 permissions — including full network access and modifying contents of memory card. And not all may even have the “India-made” connect.
On Saturday, ‘Mitron’ had displaced Aarogya Setu as the most downloaded Android app in India, according to Apptopia, a US-based app analytics platform. But the app, downloaded 70 lakh times over the past month and used by 2,20,950 people every day, could be a rebranded app from Pakistan (reports said the source code was sold to an Indian startup for Rs 2,500).