On Independence Day, as we celebrate India’s potential to grow and take pride in all it’s achieved, let’s not forget the very languages in which the hopes and dreams of over 1 billion Indians are expressed. They need our help to have their voice heard online. They need linguistic independence from the dominance of English, over 70 years after our political independence.
We’ve often talked about the Indian internet. It’s an ever growing entity, an ecosystem every Indian internet user is by definition a stakeholder of. We’re all responsible for it in some way or the other.
Which is why we all, as Indians, need to do our part in helping it out. The Indian internet needs to shed its English language bias and become more accessible to India’s masses, the 330+ million Indian language internet users who are at a significant digital disadvantage at every step of the online journey.
They too want to access the internet and all it has to offer. But it’s not that simple. At every step of the way, they encounter text in a language that they are not entirely comfortable in.
The good news is, we can all do our part in shifting the linguistic balance of the Indian internet’s content. This Independence Day, let’s take some time to think about how we, as individual citizens, can help our very own Indian languages online.
Us & The Indian Internet
In this digital day and age, we all spend hours and hours of our time connected to the internet. A lot of this involves posting online, leaving comments, chatting, reading content, and more. Most of these things might be in English, except for chatting, music, videos, and the like.
The Indian internet, like any other online ecosystem, is built on content. The more content and users there are, the more robust the ecosystem.
The Indian language internet clearly has the numbers, but it’s desperate for content.
Do you chat with your friends or family in an Indian language? Do you share posts, especially jokes and memes in your own language on Facebook or messaging apps? Let’s be honest. The answer to at least one of these is very likely a resounding yes I do.
Now, imagine this. Imagine every now and then, you posted in your own language. You write Facebook statuses in your own language. You already chat in your own language, but now you write those very same messages in your language’s native script, and not the Latin script.
On one hand, you’ll be doing your bit (however small) to increase the amount of content in Indian languages out there. At the same time, you’ll also be setting an example among those in your circles, encouraging people to start posting in their own language too. After all, people love to follow by example.
Plus, let’s face it. It’s much more aesthetic to read an Indian language in its own script.
These might all sound like small steps, but it’s small steps like these that can help bring about change.
Every bit counts. The more we use our own languages online, the more the Indian language internet ecosystem will continue to grow.
At Reverie, we realise there already exists a large ecosystem in the form the existing Indian internet and Indian digital content in English. Converting this existing content base into Indian languages would only accelerate the growth of the Indian language internet. By building Prabandhak, a tool that can double the speed it takes to translate content, we’ve enabled Indians to take larger strides in growing the Indian language digital content base.
Let’s all do our part in making India’s linguistic independence stronger!