Yearender 2021: Here is what you read this year

We have trudged through another pandemic year. As we stay indoors, our curiosity for what is happening in the outside world seems to be scaling new heights. So too is riding another year of the Covid bump powered by our extensive coverage of the pandemic, its impact on our lives and the economy. Our investigative and explanatory journalism kept our readers engaged and many others busy through the year.

But given how the second wave impacted everyone in India, our top story was a simple explainer on how to register for the Covid-19 vaccine. It has so far been read by over 15 million people. Our Explained section became a destination for people to verify their doubts on anything to do with the pandemic and accounted for a large chunk of the top stories this year.

The IPL auction, West Bengal election results, Union Budget, Tokyo Olympics and CBSE results were understandably the top topics of the year.

Delhi Hc on Covid situation, Delhi news, Delhi High Court, Delhi lawyers, Delhi hospitals, Delhi oxygen crisis, Indian express A patient waits outside a hospital in New Delhi. (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

Even as our coverage of the Tokyo Olympics from the ground saw us gaining global audiences, wrestler Vinesh Phogat writing on her losing out at the games was among the most-read stories of the year.

This year, The Indian Express investigations created a lot of impact in India, and across the world. The Pandora Papers looked at how the “elite are finding ingenious new ways to ring-fence their assets from scrutiny at home reshaping the secrecy industry in international finance”. The result of months of work by our journalist who collaborated with peers in over 170 countries, the series had over 60 stories and was read by millions of readers all over the world. Our series on where India’s toppers were now was also well appreciated justifying all the effort that went into collating this data over the years. Towards the end of the year, our breaks on the land deals in Ayodhya and interaction between the Election Commission and the PMO also had a lot of impact, not just on readership.

Opinion is one section our most loyal readers can’t do without. This year, it was no doubt that our most popular opinion writers were also the biggest bylines we carry in those pages. Tavleen Singh, Pratap Bhanu Mehta and P Chidambaram all kept bringing readers back to every week for their unique take on what’s happening in our country.

The most popular opinion piece of the year was health expert Vikram Patel’s response to Baba Ramdev’s “misinformation campaign on allopathic medicine”. Virtual Realities, a piece in which Tavleen Singh asked if PM Modi was” privately tormented by the disease and death that has spread across the country” in the second wave was the next most popular. Academician Dipti Kulkarni’s ‘Beyond copy, paste’  which elaborated on how “by leaving little time for students to grasp and reflect on what we teach them, we’re lowering their engagement with what they’re learning” was also widely read. Interestingly, with just two pieces this year, former cricketer Mohammad Kaif was among our top columnists for the year. His last piece in February pleading to keep religion out of cricket was one of our top articles of the year.

Over the years,’s entertainment coverage has stood out for giving readers what they want without sensationalising every headline. One of our stories, on Scarlett Johansson suing Disney and the silence of her co-stars was read across the world with over 2 million readers in the first few days itself. Among the topics that gained user interest during the year was 20th anniversary of Lagaan, Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli’s first child and Shershah, the movie on Kargil War hero Vikram Batra.

lagaan cast stills behind the scenes aamir khan yashpal sharma Yashpal Sharma played the role of Lakha in Lagaan (2001). (Photo: Express Archives)

Our most viral story of the year on social was unsurprisingly one of Swiss Police’s viral ‘Jerusalema’ dance video . 2021 marked 20 years of Lagaan, the iconic Ashutosh Gowariker movie. A special story in which actor Yashpal Sharma spoke about playing Lakha and being paid Rs 2 lakh for the role, was also among the top viral stories. Another story on three friends who cycled from Mumbai to Kanyakumari without giving office a miss during the lockdown was also among the top three viral stories of 2021. While entertainment stories continue to be the dope of social, especially Facebook users, one news topic went viral this year was the story of Ever Given getting stuck in the Suez Canal bringing a lot of maritime traffic to a standstill.

In milestones, we crossed a million followers on both YouTube and Instagram, while we now have over 4 million tweeple checking out updates on Twitter.

The new year is almost here, and it’s a good time to reiterate our promise… the stories will continue, with honesty and without bias.

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