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Growing trend of online linguistic inclusion

New Delhi: A growing trend of online linguistic inclusion is evident in India with e-commerce, education and social networking sites incorporating Indian languages in their sites. The move by the companies is aimed at reaching out to the vast unexplored market in India.

The latest entrants in this growing phenomenon are ‘Snapdeal’ and ‘Quickr’. In the past week ‘Snapdeal’ announced that its mobile interface will allow transactions to happen in 12 Indian languages. Furthermore, ‘Quickr’, online classified website, will allow consumers to browse, post ads, search and interact in seven vernacular languages, apart from English.

Admitting the need for linguistic inclusion Rohit Bansal, co-founder and COO, said, “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,”

Social networking sites like Facebook and search engine Google have already made this facility available to its consumers.

This growing phenomenon is a result of the burgeoning online user base in India. A report by

A report by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), last month, said that “while Internet in India took more than a decade to move from 10 million to 100 million and 3 years from 100 to 200 million, it took only a year to move from 300 to 400 million users. Clearly, internet is mainstream in India today.”

It further added that “currently, India has the third largest Internet user base in the world but it is estimated that by December, India will overtake the US (as the second largest base). China currently leads with more than 600 million Internet users.”

Moreover, the need for providing the option for vernacular languages is the mushrooming internet users in rural India.

The rural mobile user base surged 99 percent to 80 million while the mobile Internet user base in urban India has grown 65 percent over last year to reach 197 million and is expected to grow to 87 million (rural) and 219 million (urban) respectively, the report said.

Other sectors have also sought to take advantage of this phenomenon. Khan Academy, a US-based non-profit organisation and an e-learning website, earlier this month announced that it would launch online tutorials in Hindi.

“We want to work in a way that allows us to reach to the most number of students in India,’’ said founder, Salman Khan.

Thinking on similar lines Google, in early November, announced the formation of an Indian Language Internet alliance (ILIA), in partnership with various Indian content providers. This alliance seeks to allow 300 million Indian language users to become more engaged.

“The ILIA will be critical to make Internet useful to all Indian users and not just English-speaking Indians. Through this initiative we hope to enable 300 million Indian language users to become highly engaged Internet users by 2017,” Google India Vice-President and Managing Director Rajan Anandan had said.

All of this points towards the increasing belief that a digital revolution in India cannot be realised without linguistically inclusive policies. The true potential of the internet can only be unleashed by taking it beyond the English-speaking metros in India. (With inputs from agencies) (Image courtesy: aspoonfulofimagination.files.wordpress.com)

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