Digital #BhāṣāWeekly 01-02-19

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It’s an exciting time to be in language technology, and working on localising the Indian internet. Here’s our next installment of Digital #BhāṣāWeekly!

The lack of established players in the original Indian language content space means that smaller startups could actually emerge as large players, leading to a growth in the amount of content out there. We’re also seeing growth beyond mere text content. Interestingly enough, podcasting is also growing as a strong medium for Indian language content. Audio and video content is also on the rise, especially since these are easier to access for Indian language internet users.

Indians are hooked onto video entertainment, and most of what we watch – even if we speak English – is in Indian languages. Reflecting this, there’s been a growth in Indian language content on OTT video platforms. This content allows companies to tap into the vast Indian entertainment market, offering them lucrative opportunities. In this piece, industry experts weigh in on the massive potential benefits that Indian language content can have.

Professor S Prasanna Sree from Andhra Pradesh has a unique talent – she specializes in constructing new scripts for marginalized languages that have always been unwritten, giving them a visual presence and allowing their speakers to become literate in their mother tongue. Her efforts have helped these languages resist domination by other languages. She has been recognized with an entry in the World Atlas of Endangered Alphabets, 2019.

Despite recent advances, the Indian internet is still not yet Indian language friendly enough. Put simply, digital initiatives and services cannot be expected to reach more than a minority of Indians if language continues to act as a barrier. English is one of the main reasons more Indians are not coming online, or even if they manage to, they are not able to use the internet comfortably.

Indians love sports – watching them, discussing them, analysing them. And a lot of this is done in Indian languages, which is why sports channels invest in getting game commentary in various languages to expand reach and viewership. It was only time before this extended to the digital world as well. This startup is building a social media platform for sports, available in 8 Indian languages right now, that is completely Indian fan centric.

The breakneck speed of Jio’s growth can only extend to its extended range of services and products if Indian languages are employed as a key part of its strategy. Jio chairman Mukesh Ambani is well aware of this, and is incorporating localized platforms and interfaces.

Digital Bhāṣā Weekly

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