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20/12/2016 12:09 PM IST | Updated 06/02/2017 5:40 PM IST

20 Indian Memes That Nearly Broke The Internet In 2016

Meme in India.

Tiger Shroff / UTV MOTION PICTURES

Richard Dawkins coined the word "meme" in his 1976 bestseller The Selfish Gene. At the time, he probably did not know that some day his coinage will become a part of daily vocabulary across the globe.

If you aren't in sync with Internet culture, memes refer to jokes, urban legends, videos, funny pictures or contagious music that go viral online, becoming a part of the millennial consciousness. Memes hugely influence modern language and culture.

And we Indians have pretty much nailed it.

Here's a list of those who gave us some crackling desi memes in 2016.

1. Baba Ramdev.

The India Today newsweekly showed Ramdev in a yoga posture that would best be described as bending over and facing the camera with his head upside down and between his legs. Yes, exactly.

As soon as the magazine tweeted out its cover photo, Twitter went into disbelief.

2. Tiger Shroff.

Shroff junior is known for his flexible body and for mastering martial art forms such as Kalaripayattu, Modern Kung fu, Krav Maga and Silat.

All that hard work and training seems to be paying off for the budding star and, in all innocence, Shroff shared a photo of his youthful and agile self on his official Facebook account.

Tiger Shroff / Facebook

Yep. He became a meme.

3. Chetan Bhagat.

Bhagat tweeted a photo of his novel, One Indian Girl, resting on a ledge in the sunny and scenic Greek islands of Mykonos and solicited more pretty pictures of his book set against scenic backdrops.

Trust trollers to be at hand to expand the meaning of 'camera skills' to include 'photoshopping skills'.

4. Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai.

Amidst the currency ban chaos and long waits outside banks and ATMs, Twitter managed to find humour and make 'Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai' top-trending on all social media channels.

5. Arvind Kejriwal.

When Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met fishermen in Goa, he was given a traditional welcome by the community and made to wear a tiara made out of flowers.

Adorned in the traditional Goan headgear, Kejriwal's photo spread like wildfire on social media and he became a meme in no time.

Kejriwal turned into a meme. Again.

On 1 May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched e-boats and e-rickshaws in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi and took rides in both. He also distributed 1000 e-rickshaws among beneficiaries.

However, the Delhi CM was a bit miffed with the Reliance and Ola sponsor logos on the rickshaw that Modi rode in and took a dig at the PM.

He didn't know that his banter would backfire on him.

6. Demonetisation.

In a move aimed at curbing black money and corruption, the government scrapped old ₹500 and ₹1,000 currency notes.

The social media was, as always, quick to make jokes.

7. Aamir Khan.

Bollywood perfectionist Aamir Khan displayed his dedication and commitment yet again, showing to the world that he could go through extreme body transformation just for his character in a movie.

For his role in Dangal, 51-year-old Khan transformed from a 97-kilo weighing retired wrestler to a six-pack sporting sportsperson.

UTV MOTION PICTURES/YOUTUBE

While the transformation inspired many of us to set our own fitness goals, social media did what it does best, grabbing the opportunity to turn Khan's photographs into an Internet meme.

8. Pineapple Pen.

This song is about PPAP, which stands for 'Pen Pineapple Apple Pen' and features Piko-Taro, a character created by Japanese comedian Daimaou Kosaka.

The infectious song has had 37 million views on YouTube.

And it trended globally. We Indians weren't far behind in catching up.

9. Shilpa Shetty.

Sometime back, it was announced that the English literature syllabus in ICSE schools will include Harry Potter, Agatha Christie's novels, Tolkein's The Hobbit and Satyajit Ray's Feluda.

In an interview, actress Shilpa Shetty wholeheartedly supported the move, saying,

"Books like Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) and Harry Potter as part of the syllabus is a great move because it cultivates imagination and creativity at a young age. They should include books like Little Women, as it encourages respect towards women at a young age. Even a book like Animal Farm can teach the little ones to love and care for animals."

While Shetty's heart was in the right place when she made the comment, the fact that she held up Animal Farm -- a 1945 dystopian novella by George Orwell, counted as among the finest examples of political satire -- an example of children's literature, was enough for Twitter hounds to smell blood.