THE NEXT BILLION.
The changing language of the Internet
Growing up it was always a source of pride for me to speak with my grandparents in Punjabi. I may not have been able to read or write in the gurmukhi or shahmukhi scripts (or urdu like my grandfather), but there was a joy in the mother tongue. Even today it’s a joy to find someone who speaks and understands Punjabi and breaks into it in the middle of the corporate world.
India is changing. A recent report said that India had amazingly taken 271 million people out of poverty in the last 10 years. Dhirubhai Ambani famously led the revolution which had people say Roti, Kapda, Makan aur Mobile. Recently his son with the Jio effect has added Internet and Data to that list with the Jio effect.
The Narendra Modi government has focused a lot on the e-delivery of government services over the few years and has made it a key means of inclusion. With 337 million smartphone users projected to be added to India by the end of 2018, businesses need to consider the vital importance of the use of vernacular languages.
As India has over 23 official languages, it’s no wonder that a majority of Indians are multi-lingual. Even if not proficient in English, they have been able to use the English alphabet to communicate in a language of their choice, whether it be Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam or any of the other prevalent languages in each of its state.
By 2021, it is expected that
- There will be a rise in vernacular user-generated content
- Vernacular internet users will become active users
- Rise of digital advertisements in vernacular languages
- Vernacular language enablement of digital payment methods
- Advances in non typed interfaces for Indian languages.
Given this landscape it is vital for businesses to start developing their offerings in Indian languages – including, websites, services and content.