Why computing in Indian languages must take off

The availability of content in regional languages can boost Internet growth in India by 24%, but lack of advertising acts as a deterrent

Livemint
Updated16 Apr 2015
Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint<br />
Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

Mumbai: India has all the software skills required to make computing in Indian languages, also known as Indic computing, a reality, says a study released this month. It was conducted by Alchemy Business Solutions Llp and presented by the Dewang Mehta Foundation Trust.

The availability of content in regional languages can boost Internet growth in India by 24%, according to a recent study by lobby group Internet and Mobile Association of India (Iamai) and market researcher IMRB International.

According to the Iamai-IMRB study, 43% of non-users of the Internet in rural areas have said they will adopt the medium if the content is provided in local languages. The Internet in Indian languages comprises two categories. The first is that of online newspapers, which have significant traffic, and early adopters like bloggers and others who have overcome significant hurdles like installing fonts and keyboards to post content online, says the Alchemy Business report.

However, the lack of advertising revenue has meant online editions of newspapers are seen as cost centres, and bloggers have little money to reinvest. Unlike the English Web, Indic websites get most of their traffic from social media. This is because of the challenges users face in trying to enter text into search boxes in Indian languages. Many users are not even aware that they can search the Internet in Indian languages.

The heartening fact is that it is much easier to make keyboards on smartphones. So smartphones and tablets will drive Indic computing and bridge the digital divide, concludes the report, which advocates that the government must open-source state-funded Indic technologies to enable faster proliferation of computing in Indian languages.

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