We all love the Internet. I believe everyone will agree that we can’t survive without it in today’s world. We all went crazy when the Net Neutralization thing happened, didn’t we? I’m going to throw some numbers at you now, so please don’t panic. Out of the 3.4 Billion internet users in the world, around 13.5% are Indians. We rank second after China when it comes to internet usage. And there are around 342 Million internet users in India. I know the numbers look huge, but out of the 1.25 Billion people in our country it amounts to only 34.8% even though we have a literacy rate of 74.04%. In short, there are people who can afford an internet connection, can afford a device to browse internet but don’t do so.
Why Local Languages?
According to a research done by IAMAI there are around 127 Million local language internet users in India. For those who don’t know what IAMAI is, it is ‘Internet and Mobile Association of India’. The report also states that, in the last year alone, Hindi content on the web has grown by about 94%, whereas English content has grown only at 19%.
Okay, I can sense that you’re still doubtful! Why would someone want content in Hindi or Tamil? What’s wrong with English? Well, if you look at the top 10 selling newspapers in India you’ll realize that there’s only one English newspaper which makes it to the list, the rest are local language newspapers.
Did you know that out of the 74% literates in India the English speaking are less than 15%! And the majority of the content right now on internet is in English and yes it includes ‘this post too’. There are around 366 Million speakers of Hindi and just 100,000 Wikipedia articles in Hindi. Do you think it’s fair?
We all give weird looks to our parents when they ask us stupid questions like how to post a comment on Facebook or how to order something on-line. Did it ever cross your mind, that there’s nothing wrong with them and there’s something wrong with the internet because it’s not user-friendly!
Google understood the agony and started offering Hindi translation in 2007 and later in other Indian languages. This is the sole reason why Microsoft is working on project named ‘Bhasa’.
There are around ~45% local language content users at present and according to IAMAI’s research the figures will rise to 60% by 2018. Every business follows the concept of ‘demand and supply’. Supply is directly proportional to demand. But, in this case even though there’s a high demand but less local language content.
Why local language on Social Media?
There are around 170 Million active social media users in our country and it is expected that the number might go up to 225 Million by the end of 2018. Still, why social media? Let me explain you with few examples:
What would you do if you’re a small-time turmeric farmer from some district in Maharashtra and all of sudden the price of turmeric dips drastically? Let me tell you what Atul Salunkh did. He used Facebook to get support of farmers from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu for a complete boycott of the market. And it actually worked and the prices doubled!
Women in India are using social media for a completely different purpose. They are using it as a medium to shame men publically who sexually harass them. Veena Ashiya Chindur, a young girl from Bangalore was out for a jog, when a guy harassed her. But, she didn’t let it go instead she chased him, made him kneel down and kicked him. Her friend made a video of the incident. She uploaded the video on a social networking site and later on filed a police complaint.
A research says that if we bring local language content onto the internet then the number of users might rise by 39%. Now, imagine if we come up with local language social media platforms, more Atuls will come up raise their problems. Women who have no medium to communicate their issues will get a source to be vocal about it. Rajni fans will get their updates in their language. More housewives can share recipes online instead of running towards the dictionary to find the hindi translation of ‘tamarind’. Our grannies can follow Yogi Baba’s online and repost their religious mantras. It will bring about change. A change in our society. It will empower them!
People will get a medium to enhance their knowledge, to interact with the like minded people in a language they like and know. And that is why we need a local language social media platform.