|Intro: The dot bharat initiative was taken up for our non-English speaking people. With this initiative, people can now type the URL in their own language. This will help people in the villages and remote places. Hence it will help bridge the digital divide.|
When the content in the Internet is in various languages, then why should the URL be only in English. It does not need to be that way any longer. The much awaited ‘dot bharat’ domain is here. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Telecommunications and IT Minister, unveiled the dot bharat domain name on August 27. If you are interested in owning a website with domain name in Hindi, you will now be able to book the name in Devanagari script.
The websites one can access currently include the Prime Minister's official website, which is available as pradhanmantri dot sarkar dot bharat; the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing ( C-DAC) website is now available as seedac dot bharat. Infact, many websites have become available in Devanagari URL.
Few more Indian languages like Boro, Dogri, Konkani, Maithili, Marathi, Nepali and Sindhi share the “dot Bharat ccTLD (country code top-level domain)”, so you can book your preferred domain name in these languages too, apart from Hindi. In near future the facility of having URL in other Indian languages such as Bengali, Punjabi, Kannada, Telugu, etc., is going to be introduced. The English version of ‘dot bharat’ is ‘dot in’.
The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) have collaborated in the launch of the dot bharat domain. Dr Govind, the Chief Executive of NIXI says,” The dot bharat initiative was taken up for our non-English speaking people. With this initiative, people can now type the URL in their own language. This will help people in the village and remote places. Hence it will help bridge the digital divide. This will also encourage generation of local content.”
The Narendra Modi government is of the view that the facility of having URLs in Indian languages will give a much-needed push to the creation of website content in local languages. Language should not be a barrier to anyone who wants to access the Internet for availing of any service or finding useful information or even entertainment.
However, while providing people the opportunity of holding a domain name in Devanagari might be a relatively easy exercise, the creation of cutting edge content and services in Devanagari and other Indian scripts will be a challenge. For content creation the Modi government will have to actively collaborate with the best content creators on the Internet. Lot of content that is in English and other international languages will have to be translated and made available in Indian languages.
English is the most popular medium for accessing the Internet because this language is spoken in many countries in the world and majority of the websites are in English.
But thanks to the huge number of Internet users that China is adding each year, English can soon be replaced by Chinese as the most popular language on the Internet. Of the 2 billion people who use the Internet each month, 537 million speak English primarily, while 444 million speak Chinese.
Compared to the number of English and Chinese speakers accessing the Internet, the figure for Indian languages is quite small. One reason for that is the low broadband penetration in the country. According the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) report, there were only 68.83 million broadband subscribers in the country as on 30 June 2014. Just creating the facility for having URL in local languages is not going to be of much help if the broadband penetration continues to be abysmally low.
Along with expansion of broadband penetration, the government will also have to come up with policies that encourage our educational institutions, cultural institutions, private agencies, business houses, media and creative individuals to create content for the Internet in Indian languages. Work must also be done for improving literacy in the country.