India, a synonym for diversity, is a marvellous illustration of the human spirit. Possessing variations of gargantuan proportions, India never ceases to surprise. A population of more than 1.2 billion, nothing less than a continent in itself, the Indian populace speaks more than 1500 languages with 30 languages being spoken by more than a million. Hindi is the official language while English, although a secondary language has become the language of business in urban areas. Now, relating this to the (impending) internet boom, with over a 100 million users and the number expected to raise exponentially, it brings up a very crucial factor. Do all these people who'll be accessing the net for the first time in the coming years be comfortable with English?
A million dollar question, it is only prudent to develop capabilities which will make the net more accessible to these millions of people. And the onus here lies on the startups to take the initiative and build these competencies. Many have already taken up these responsibility and are doing some amazing work in this field. Hazel Media, a technology & research company creates mobility platforms across a variety of devices and platforms with a focus on Vernacular Language interaction on mass-market mobile devices. Hazel Media, via its MobQuery platform has had certain breakthroughs in enabling organisations with large mobile workforce to use vernacular language applications. If one needs to conduct a survey in rural areas, Hazel Media can enable this by providin the technology to empower local people to conduct these surveys without pen and paper and the data can be sent in to a central repository.
Speaking about independence, founder of Hazel Media, Manish Malik says-
Our 'Idea of Freedom' is 'Freedom of Idea' - no restrictions on independence of Thought, and freedom to work towards individual and collective goals. Once you have these available, then the ambitions of people automatically work their way up to thinking and building for growth. Entrepreneurship is one of the ways individuals and groups stride towards this freedom and attempt to create for growth and is a clear symbol of Independence.
With a motto, "We make language irrelevant in digital text communication," Reverie Language Technologies is another sparkling example when it comes to this problem of language barrier. Reverie provides users the ability to read and type in any language of choice along with giving automated contextual text conversion of one language to several other languages. Reverie helps device manufacturers (OEMs), application developers and content providers across business verticals reach a large base of untapped users through instant localization of contents and user interfaces. Arvind Pani, the founder at Reverie says, "My idea of independence and freedom is to have the power to do what you like and use that power responsibly for addressing larger causes."
Talking about the success till now, Arvind mentions-
The vision of breaking the language barrier is a mighty one that needs to address not just the diversity in languages, but also the diversity in literacy. We have a very long journey to cover before we can conclusively measure our success. However, in the short time period of our effort, we have been reasonably successful in breaking the technology barrier for text communication on digital platforms. We are now focussed on proliferating our technologies through as many channels as possible to ensure they touch the masses.
Quillpad from Tachyon Technologies is another such application that let's one pen one's thoughts in different languages. At the time of writing this 337,938,908 words have been written in Hindi using Quillpad. Founded by Mr. Ram Prakash Hanumanthappa from a small town in Shimoga, Karnataka, Quillpad has survived the challenges and have been taken huge strides to gain national prominence. A very strong startup, one can expect a lot from Quillpad.
Another startup, Madrat Games is a company which was the first to develop a word game in Hindi. A strong team at the helm, the company has strong mentors on board and has been doing noteworthy work. Wordmatki, a facebook game for women in the >35 age group, has become a rage and is providing something for the section of the community that has been neglected till now on social networks. The founder trio of Rajat, Manuj and Madhumita have made a credible name for Madrat and have also developed apps for enhancing learning for autistic kids via iPad apps. On this day, Madrat is also offering a discount on their games (25% off + Free Shipping)
Founded by Ganesh Ram, MobileVeda enables publishing in local Indian Languages. Based out of Chennai, the company has won accolades and is another startup contributing towards breaking this language barrier. These and many other initiatives to bridge the gap in terms of language will go a long way to help the nation grow and thrive.