Monday December 18, 2017

Regional language content to usher in India internet boom


While India is slated to see a vast increase in the number of internet users within the next few years in the wake of the Digital India campaign, Internet companies are gearing up to introduce more regional language content to engage these new users.

By the middle of next year, India is expected to have about 460 million internet users, making it the second largest internet user base in the world, according to a recent report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI). Over the past year, the numbers have grown already by 49 per cent and about three quarters of these new users use their mobiles to surf the internet.

However, the Indian internet consumer is vastly changing as more and more individuals from rural towns and villages are logging in. They will constitute about half the internet user population by 2018, and would surf the internet in local languages, says the report.

Indian language internet is of prime importance now and companies are heavily investing in it. Just 0.1 per cent of the web content is in Indian languages, while 56 per cent is in English.

“In the last one year alone, Hindi content on the web has grown by about 94 per cent year on year, whereas English content is growing only at 19 per cent year on year,” stated a Google spokesperson.

The Indian Language Internet Alliance is a Google India initiated group of companies which would help put content in regional languages online. The alliance, which has 30 partner companies at present, was formulated last year with ABP News, Network 18 and Jagran Prakashan Ltd among the first set of partners.

The regional language focus is also important from the marketing point of view. “Once the user base increases it becomes easier for digital companies to convince brands to spend on their platform,” said BG Mahesh, founder and MD of

“Brands are now interested in reaching users across India, especially Tier-2 and Tier-3 towns. What can be a better platform than Internet to reach Tier-2 and Tier-3 users at a far lesser cost than traditional media which is print and TV?” he asked.

Speaking on Facebook shares of Hindi stories, Samir Patil, CEO of Scroll media, said that “it is on the same scale as English”. This shows that the character of the Indian internet is changing rapidly. “We see creating mobile first experience and share-worthy stories for languages as a big opportunity,” said Patil.

Hindi sites are being launched by several known media companies., a Hindi news site, was launched by Scroll Media, while InShorts introduced Hindi versions.

“Users want to consume content/services in a language they are most comfortable with,” said Mahesh, pointing out that it wasn’t only the content companies who benefitted from introducing local languages.

“All Internet companies stand to benefit by promoting regional languages. Definitely services like railway booking, apparel, electronics can benefit a lot by having their sites in regional languages,” he added.

Hindi and Tamil versions have been introduced by e-retailer websites such as Snapdeal and Shopclues. It is expected that other such companies will soon follow their lead.

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More Digital Content in Regional Languages Will Boost India’s Digital Economy: Google

Within 24 hours of 'Tez' being launched, Google saw nearly 1.8 crore gross merchandise volume (GMV) done with over four lakh active users. pixabay

New Delhi, Sep 27, 2017: Building more digital content in regional languages will give a major boost to India’s bid to become a $1 trillion digital economy, Google India said here on Wednesday.

“If we do not allow Internet to build local language elements, I think the story could go completely haywire. There are 400 million Internet users in India and out of those, 234 million are local language users. The number is expected to go to 536 million by 2021,” Chetan Krishnaswamy, Country Head, Public Policy, Google, told reporters on the sidelines of the ‘Indian Mobile Congress (IMC) 2017’ here.

“The industry needs to focus on this aspect and ensure that content in local languages becomes a reality, and the technology and products are optimised to ensure that Internet becomes inclusive. The idea is that it doesn’t only remain for the English-speaking elite,” Krishnaswamy added.

Google has been upbeat about India’s digital economy.

Earlier this month, the company launched “Tez” — its standalone digital payments app that can be downloaded on Android and iOS devices.

Also ReadA Step Towards Digital India- Google Launches Digital Payment App ‘Tez’ in India 

The app was built for India, working on the vast majority of the country’s smartphones and is available in English and seven Indian languages (Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu).

“Our belief is that by 2025, the digital economy would be able to hit $750 billion-1 trillion mark. It is not unattainable. Currently, the digital economy contributes to seven per cent of the GDP and by 2025, it should be around 17 per cent of the GDP,” Krishnaswamy said.

According to a recent report from Google and KPMG India, Indian language users have overtaken English language on the Internet in the country.

Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Bengali and Marathi speaking users have the highest adoption online services, followed by Telugu, Gujarati and Malayalam. (IANS)

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Solving the Big Puzzle: An Indian startup introduces E-mail Addresses in Indian Languages!

E-mail addresses in regional languages- is the reality of it as promising as it sounds?

Representational Image (keyword), Wikimedia

Dec 29, 2016: According to An Indian startup, it has found the tool to make it easier for more people to have email accounts, but it may have partially solved the big puzzle.

Two months ago, a start-up based in Jaipur called Data XGen Technologies introduced DataMail, an email service which provides email addresses in several Indian languages. The service, paid at the time, is targeted at the vast majority of Indians who are not so comfortable in writing or speaking in English.

It has now paired up with state-run BSNL to provide email addresses in regional languages like Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, and Marathi for free.

“It’s now possible in every part of India to have an email address in their own language and communicate in preferred language”, said Anupam Shrivastav, Managing Director of BSNL, in a press statement.

Internet users in India are around 350 million, which accounts for less than 30 percent of the country’s population. BSNL and Data XGen are focusing on the rest of the population with their new service. As noble as their mission is, it doesn’t seem the two companies analysed the pros and cons thoroughly.

There’s certainly an appeal in DataMail. The app has been tested many times; a few email addresses in Hindi language were created as well. Everything is uncomplicated, straightforward and creating an email address is a breeze.

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Several popular email services such as Gmail offer support for Hindi and other Indian regional languages. Users can draft and send emails in Hindi or any other language if they intend to. However, DataMail is the first service to offer email addresses in local Indian languages.

Though there is no trouble using the app and creating email addresses in local languages, it soon becomes clear why email addresses and Indian languages don’t get along. There’s a big barrier between users who can type in Hindi (or other local languages) and those who can’t. DataMail fails to point out the issue.

Arvind Pani, Co-founder and CEO at Reverie Language Technologies, a company offering multiple solutions for communications in Indian regional languages, said users who are able to read in Hindi, for instance, can be assumed to be literate enough to write in Hindi, for instance. Reverie’s services are powering DataMail app.

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And this problem quadruples while using DataMail. It’s very difficult for users who cannot write in Hindi or other supported languages to connect with users who have an email address in a non-English language.

Email is a communication medium that has been around for decades on a simple consensus — any two or more parties can communicate as long as they have an agreement over bare minimum protocols on how they will send and receive emails. If someone, regardless of their location, isn’t able to type your email address, that renders the service useless.

While all popular Smartphone operating systems — Windows Phone, Android, and iOS — offer Indic keyboard and also support third-party keyboards that come with similar facilities, the key question is how does one send an email another whose email address is in a language that they do not understand?

It’s a limitation that could decrease the relevance and fruitfulness of DataMail among users, especially if there is no fallback mechanism (alias addresses in English or the user’s mobile phone number, or something of that sort, maybe?) for everyone else to be able to send emails to DataMail users.

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This brings us to the most crucial point — whether or not email is still relevant as a communication tool for mobile-first internet users who have never had email addresses or felt the need for it.

Most services now a days don’t necessarily require an email addresses to create an account — a mobile phone number does the job easily. Even India’s newly launched Unified Payment Interface, which has been implemented by over 30 banks in the country, uses mobile phone numbers to create virtual addresses to which anyone can transfer money. Indian users are already transferring money to mobile phone numbers as the use of mobile wallets keeps gaining popularity.

In mobile-first and increasingly mobile-only India there needs to be a better substitute of emails and localizing email addresses just does not fit the deal.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang





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PM Modi’s Sanskrit teacher Imran Khan to continue developing apps in regional languages


Alwar (Rajasthan): Imran Khan, the 34-year-old government school teacher from Rajasthan, who shot to fame after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at London’s Wembley Stadium says he plans to continue developing educational apps, especially in regional languages which can help more people.

Khan, who teaches Sanskrit at a government school in Alwar and describes himself on his website as a teacher in Sanskrit Education Department from Rajasthan, has developed over 50 mobile applications related to education and dedicated them to students.

“I am Imran Khan, a teacher in Sanskrit Education Department from Rajasthan. GKTalk is my web portal for educational purpose to provide a support to Hindi medium students,” Khan said on the website.

Towards the end of his speech, Modi had recalled work of Khan.

“My India is in Imran Khan of Alwar,” Modi remarked, saying that leaders of the world ask him with some amazement how there is so much harmony in a diverse and big country like India.

Also an app developer on his website, Khan has had no formal training in this regard. He started developing apps as a hobby after learning from his brother’s engineering books.

His most popular app is the general science one in Hindi with over 500,000 downloads and 18 million screen views. But, according to Khan, he is not for money here.

“Everything in life is not for money, because the people who I have made these apps for, can’t buy them,” Khan told a news channel.

“I plan to continue developing educational apps, especially in regional languages which can help more people,” the teacher added.

In good news, the state-run BSNL will now provide free internet to Khan for developing his apps.

(With inputs from agencies)