Content in regional languages a must for internet revolution: Pilot

The body which may govern internet in future must take heed of the aspirations and expectations of internet users, the junior minister at the information technology department says

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Pratap Vikram Singh | March 15, 2012



The biggest challenge for the internet revolution is the unavailability of online content in regional languages, union minister of state for communications and information technology Sachin Pilot said here on Thursday.

“Despite the fact that in India internet has been in use for more than two decades, and that the country has around 900 million mobile phone subscribers, the disappointing aspect is that we have not been able to make the internet open, accessible and relevant for a majority of the population. The major challenge we face is the lack of content in Indian languages. You can’t have people speaking one of the 22 Indian languages logging on to internet, without content in their native language,” he said at a conference on ‘mobile web initiative in India’ organised by the internet and mobile association of India (IAMAI) and W3C Bharat. 

The minister said that though internet revolution is a global phenomenon, for it to be relevant for people living in far flung areas of Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, or in any other part of the country, it has to have content in regional languages. Citing the increase in teledensity over period of two decades, he said, “In 1995, our teledensity was one percent. Today, it is 77 percent.  This could happen because of the technological leapfrog from the landline to handheld, wireless devices. A similar thing will happen over broadband front.”

Pointing at the low telecom usage in rural areas, he said, “Though the overall teledensity in India is 76percent, the teledensity is just 35percent in the rural areas. By 2020, the government has targeted to achieve teledensity of 100 percent.”

Highlighting the issues involved in governance of internet at global level, he said, “By 2030 it is estimated that 5 billion people on the planet will access internet. India today accounts for 100 million internet users. The question here is how internet is governed. Irrespective of the agency governing internet, the governance of internet should be fair and open… taking into accounts the aspirations, expectations, demands and sensitivity of these 5 billion people, majority of whom will be coming from China, India and the African continent.”  “Those are the stakeholders whose views should be part of the decision making.”

He also urged the industry to take the challenge of content creation as a business opportunity. He said, “There are huge opportunities lying ahead. This is the right time for the start ups and small companies, the SMEs in creation of content and applications.”

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