“Local Language Content to Drive Inclusive Growth”: Sachin Pilot,MoS, Communication & IT
While addressing the ‘Mobile Web Initiative in India’ conference, organised by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and W3C India, Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communications and IT, Ministry of Communications and IT said, “Internet is still not open, accessible and user friendly to a major chunk of our population due to lack of regional language support. Indian entrepreneurs should look at this untapped market as this opportunity might not be available two years from now.”
Internet penetration is on the rise in India and the optical fibre plan on track, last mile broadband connectivity across the country will be a reality in the next few years. According to Sachin, “Mobile penetration in India is over 800 million with around 53% of it in rural India. This captive consumer, in days to come will be accessing internet from their handhelds. The time has come to create local language content applications so that people in rural India can easily access information and entertainment.”AMAI, W3C
Government of India is spending INR 20,000 crore to lay optic fibre so that all panchayats across the country are connected. He further said that access to free or cheap broadband connectivity across the country will expedite penetration of internet users in India. With around 5 billion internet users expected by 2030, India, China and African countries will contribute to this burgeoning growth substantially.
The fact that growth of mobile internet in India has a direct relation to literacy rate was further emphasised by J. Satyanarayana, Secretary, IT, Ministry of Communications and IT, who said, “Mobile penetration in India is over 800 million but penetration of internet is only 15%. On the other side literacy rate in English is less than 20% whereas literacy rate in Indian languages is around 50%. Hence, the next big thing is the evolution of mobile internet in local languages.”
With the advent of 4G and LTE technologies, the internet and web access through mobile media would receive a tremendous boost. This momentum would further be accelerated if people could use the local vernacular to communicate through mobile internet. The conference highlighted certain critical domains which stakeholders and authorities need to build upon, including standardization of devices and fonts for Indian languages, applications around Indian languages and technology to support them.