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Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Why website names need Indian scripts

Having TLDs in Indian scripts will directly impact growth of the country's internet infra as well, says Ajay Data

A person who can’t understand English may search for content online in regional languages but a website’s primary (top-level) domain name has to be typed in English, or Hinglish at best. The term top-level domain (TLD) refers to that part of a website’s address that comes after the dot -- such as .com, .org, .net, .gov, etc.

In August this year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that it is working on allowing TLD names in Indian scripts. ICANN is the organisation that governs the registration of domain names on the internet. A panel called the Neo-Brahmi Generation Panel (NBGP) was set up, comprising over 60 linguists and experts from India, Bangladesh, Singapore, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The panel is working on developing domain names in Bengali, Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Tamil and Telugu.

Why this matters The reason we don’t have domain names in these scripts right now is that the internet’s servers can’t recognise them. Computers understand Unicode, a system that assigns numbers to all characters. While the Indian government does have .bharat domain names, Ajay Data explains that this covers 15 languages and eight scripts, and it doesn’t cover all possible characters.

“For ICANN, it isn’t about the language. The moment a DNS (domain name server) starts understanding Unicode, ICANN can support all Unicode characters," said Ajay Data, co-chair of NBGP and the first Indian to become a member of ICANN.

Data explained that through this exercise, anyone will eventually be able to register their own TLDs. The NBGP is currently working to create the rules for nine scripts (mentioned above). Data says that having TLDs in Indian scripts will directly impact the growth of the country’s internet infrastructure as well.

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