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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?

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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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Atal Bihari Vajpayee: A Peace Visionary and a Man Who Believed in India’s Destiny and was Ready To Fight For It

It was precisely this persona of Vajpayee -- one merged in Hindutva ideology yet seemingly not wholly willing to bow to it -- that won him admirers cutting across the political spectrum.

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee,
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India's peace visionary. Image: Flickr

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a man of moderation in a fraternity of jingoistic nationalists; a peace visionary in a region riven by religious animosity; and a man who believed in India’s destiny and was ready to fight for it.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (93), who died on Thursday, will go down in history as a person who tried to end years of hostility with Pakistan and put development on the front burner of the country’s political agenda. He was also the first non-Congress Prime Minister to complete a full five-year term.

Even though he lived the last 13 years of his life in virtual isolation, dogged by debilitating illnesses and bedridden, he has left an enduring legacy for the nation and the region where he was much loved and respected across the political spectrum and national boundaries, including in Pakistan.

Vajpayee, former Indian Prime Minister
Vajpayee stunned the world by making India a declared nuclear state. Image: Wikimedia Commons

In the tumultuous period he presided over the destiny of the world’s largest democracy, Vajpayee stunned the world by making India a declared nuclear state and then almost went to war with Pakistan before making peace with it in the most dramatic fashion.
In the process, his popularity came to match that of Indira Gandhi, a woman he admired for her guts even as he hated her politics.

He also became the best-known national leader after Indira Gandhi and her father Jawaharlal Nehru.

After despairing for years that he would never become Prime Minister and was destined to remain an opposition leader all his life, he achieved his goal, but only for 13 days, from May 16-28, 1996, after his deputy, L.K. Advani, chose not to contest elections that year.
His second term came on March 19, 1998, and lasted 13 months, a period during which India stunned the world by undertaking a series of nuclear tests that invited global reproach.

Although his tenure again proved short-lived, his and his government’s enhanced stature following the world-defying blasts enabled him to return as Prime Minister for the third time on October 13, 1999, a tenure that lasted a full five-year term.

When finally he stepped down in May 2004, after an election that he was given to believe he would win, it marked the end of a long and eventful political career spanning six decades.

Vajpayee had gone into these elections riding a personality cult that projected him as a man who had brought glory to the nation in unprecedented ways. The BJP’s election strategy rested on seeking a renewed mandate over three broad pillars of achievement that the government claimed — political stability in spite of the pulls and pressures of running a multi-party coalition; a “shining” economy that saw a dizzying 10.4 percent growth in the last quarter of the previous year; and peace with Pakistan that changed the way the two countries looked at each other for over 50 years.

The results of the elections could not have come as a greater shock to a man who was hailed for his achievements and who was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 influential men of the decade.

Success didn’t come easily to the charismatic politician, who was born on Christmas Day in 1924 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, into a family of moderate means. His father was a school teacher and Vajpayee would later recall his early brush with poverty.

He did his Masters in Political Science, studying at the Victoria College in Gwalior and at the DAV College in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, where he first contested, and lost, elections. He began his professional career as a journalist, working with Rashtradharma, a Hindi monthly, Panchjanya, a Hindi weekly, and two Hindi dailies, Swadesh and Veer Arjun. By then he had firmly embraced the ideals of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).
But even as he struggled to win electoral battles, his command over Hindi, the lingua franca of the North Indian masses, his conciliatory politics and his riveting oratory brought him into public limelight.

Also read: For Modi, Road To 2019 Will Be Steeper

His first entry into Parliament was in 1962 through the Rajya Sabha, the upper house. It was only in 1971 that he won a Lok Sabha election. He was elected to the lower house seven times and to the Rajya Sabha twice.

Vajpayee
Vajpayee spent months in prison when Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency rule in June 1975. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Vajpayee spent months in prison when Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency rule in June 1975 and put her political opponents in jail. When the Janata Party took office in 1977, dethroning the Congress for the first time, he became the foreign minister.

The lowest point in his career came when he lost the 1984 Lok Sabha polls, that too from his birthplace Gwalior, after Rajiv Gandhi won an overwhelming majority following his mother Indira Gandhi’s assassination. And the BJP he led ended up with just two seats in
the 545-member Lok Sabha, in what looked like the end of the road for the right-wing party.

In no time, Vajpayee was replaced and “eclipsed” by his long-time friend L.K. Advani.
Although they were the best of friends publicly, Vajpayee never fully agreed with Advani’s and the assorted Hindu nationalist groups’ strident advocacy of Hindutva, an ideology ranged against the idea of secular India.

Often described as the right man in the wrong party, there were also those who belittled him as a moderate “mask” to a hardline Hindu nationalist ideology. Often he found his convictions and value systems at odds with the party, but the bachelor-politician never went against it.

It was precisely this persona of Vajpayee — one merged in Hindutva ideology yet seemingly not wholly willing to bow to it — that won him admirers cutting across the political spectrum. It was this trait that made him the Prime Minister when the BJP’s allies concluded they needed a moderate to steer a hardliner, pro-Hindu party.

He brought into governance measures that created for India a distinct international status on the diplomatic and economic fronts. In his third prime ministerial stint, Vajpayee launched a widely acclaimed diplomatic initiative by starting a bus service between New Delhi and Pakistan’s Lahore city.

Its inaugural run in February 1999 carried Vajpayee and was welcomed on the border by his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif. It was suspended only after the 2001 terror attack on the Indian Parliament that nearly led to a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

The freeze between the two countries, including an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation on the border for nearly a year, was finally cracked in the spring of 2003 when Vajpayee, while in Kashmir, extended a “hand of friendship” to Pakistan. That led to the historic summit in January 2004 with then President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad — a remarkable U-turn after the failed summit in Agra of 2001. Despite the two men being so far apart in every way, Musharraf developed a strong liking for the Indian leader.

His unfinished task, one that he would probably rue, would be the peace process with Pakistan that he had vowed to pursue to its logical conclusion and a resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

He was not known as “Atal-Ji”, a name that translates into firmness, for nothing. He could go against the grain of his party if he saw it deviate from its path. When Hindu hardliners celebrated the destruction of the 16th century Babri Mosque at Ayodhya, he was full of personal remorse for the apocalyptic action and called it — in a landmark interview to IANS — the “worst miscalculation” and a “misadventure”. He even despaired that “moderates have no place — who is going to listen to the voice of sanity?”

In his full five-year term, he successively carried forward India’s economic reforms programme with initiatives to improve infrastructure, including flagging off a massive national highway project that has become associated with his vision, went for massive privatisation of unviable state undertakings despite opposition from even within his own party.

While his personal image remained unsullied despite his long innings in the murky politics of this country, his judgment was found wanting when his government was rocked by an arms bribery scandal that sought to expose alleged payoffs to some senior members of his cabinet. His failure to speak up when members of his party and its sister organisations, who are accused of killing more than 1,000 Muslims in Gujarat, was questioned by the liberal fraternity who wondered aloud about his secular proclamations. He wanted then Chief Minister — now Prime Minister, Narendra Modi — to take responsibility for the riots and quit but was prevailed upon by others not to press his decision.

A day before his party lost power, Vajpayee was quoted as saying in a television interview that if and when he stepped down he would like to devote his time to writing and poetry. But fate ruled otherwise. The man who once rued that “I have waited too long to be Prime Minister” found his last days in a world far removed from the adulation and attention — though across the nation people prayed for his well-being — surrounded only by care-givers and close family whom he even failed to recognize. (IANS)