In May this year, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his website in six different Indian languages, besides English and Hindi, he was sending out an important message – the digital inclusion of a billion plus non-English speaking population in India.
The fact that the Prime Minister is serious about this digital inclusion is borne out by the fact that he has instructed all the central ministries to make their websites available in Indian languages on priority.
Quoting a senior government official, a recent report in The Economic Times said, “The Prime Minister wants that central government websites should not be available just in English and Hindi, they should be multi-lingual as people across the country access them for information. This is now a priority job.”
According to the media report, “The job has been assigned to the ministry of electronics and information technology (MEIT) which has roped in its in-house R&D arm Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC).”
Modi’s website is available in Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam, Gujarati, and Telugu. At present, only the Prime Minister’s website is available in multiple Indian languages, and the task of making all central ministries go multi-lingual will be a Herculean one. But considering how serious Modi is about digital inclusion, this move should not come as a surprise.
To reach all corners of the country, the Prime Minister had launched his radio address Mann Ki Baat, which is available in 23 officially recognised Indian languages. It is no secret that the Prime Minister often turns to digital and social media to reach out to people. He also has a MyGov app, where people can communicate their problems and suggestions directly to the Prime Minister. All these measures are part of his government’s initiative for better governance.
This move is a welcome one for startups that are working to bring Indian languages on to digital platforms. In its inaugural Indian Languages Digital Festival, Bhasha, in March this year, YourStory had showcased 14 startups that are working to ensure that local languages thrive in the digital ecosystem. The Bhasha festival’s aim is to facilitate the emergence of a truly democratic Internet for India, where Indians can freely interact, seek knowledge, get entertained, and transact in their own languages. YourStory is available in 12 Indian languages, besides English.