There is a growing phenomenon in India that seems have shed light on the root cause behind the difficulties in bringing those without access to the internet. Many social media and e-commerce web portals have begun to make available their content in various regional languages.
Here are the major organizations that have expanded to include Indian vernacular languages.
In 2012 social networking website Facebook announced that it would be made available in eight regional Indian languages. These include Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali and Marathi.
It said during the launch that “with over 50 million people in India on Facebook, we want to make sure that everyone has a great Facebook mobile experience regardless of the device that they choose to use,” Facebook’s Country Growth Manager Kevin D’Souza said in a statement.”
Since then it has had its Indian user base, its second-biggest market globally, grown to 125 million by June 2015.
Snapdeal became the first e-commerce portal in India to offer its content to users in multiple regional languages.
On December 15, 2015, it launched its multilingual interface with an aim of bringing more Indians to shop online by surmounting the language barrier. Hindi and Telegu have already been available for its mobile interface.
Other Indian languages will be made available by Jan 26th, in time for India’s Republic day. These languages include – Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Assamese and Punjabi.
Rohit Bansal, co-founder of Snapdeal, pointed out the advantages of such a move during the launch.
“Customers are at the heart of everything we do and we are excited about using technology to make the experience more authentic for our users. India’s linguistic diversity is a huge opportunity to expand the market to include those users who would prefer to engage online in their native languages. Our decision to go multi-lingual is driven by the feedback that we have received from our users. We are sure this will enable millions of new users to join the digital commerce revolution that is sweeping across India. Snapdeal’s multi-lingual platform will redefine the rules of the game and will allow sellers and buyers from all across India to explore and transact without any constraints of language,” he said.
Following the announcement of Snapdeal, the Indian classified advertising site – Quikr – launched seven vernacular language interfaces for its website. The languages were Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Gujarati and Marathi to browse as well as post ads in.
This feature would open doors for many uninitiated but aspiring Indians. It would allow consumers to browse, search, post ads and interact with buyers and sellers in their language of choice.
Speaking at the launch, Pranay Chulet, Founder and CEO, Quikr said, “We are a made in India business that has always focused on what the Indian consumer needs. With Indian internet expanding beyond air-conditioned offices and homes and into the streets of the country, local languages are definitely the next frontier for us. I strongly believe that language should no longer be a barrier for people seeking to transact online and am super excited about the strong response our verticals such as QuikrC2C and QuikrJobs have already received in local languages.”
In 2015, micro-blogging website twitter made itself accessible in four more Indian languages, which include Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi and Tamil. “We’ve updated Twitter.com and the android app to support these additional Indian languages,” it said in a statement.
Earlier it was available in Hindi and Bengali before the four languages were added.
Moreover, it has also launched hashtags in other Indian languages.
“We’re excited to announce we’ve rolled out hashtags, not just in Hindi, but also in all Devanagari script based languages: Marathi, Sanskrit and even Nepali, as well as Bengali, Assamese, Punjabi, Gujarati, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada,” it said in a statement.
(Inputs from Rajesh Ghosh)