IAMAI initiates a Working Group for Local Languages in India

From the newsletter (Sept 22, 2011) of IAMAI (Internet & Mobile Association of India):

Focus on Local Language: Those tracking internet numbers in India are entering a mathematical roadblock soon. Internet user numbers are reaching 100 million soon and will get to 300 million by 2014/15 according to some. But there are only 110-120 odd million people in India who know English. There is also a social roadblock, the government and Telcos are planning to reach internet to rural India as a part of its inclusiveness agenda, but who in rural India would understand and use predominantly – English internet? The need for local language content and apps should be highlighted everywhere by everyone who believe in the inherent power of internet to dis-intermediate information and provide a level playing field to those who are currently socially and economically excluded. It was in this spirit that the Department of Information Technology led by Shri. Sachin Pilot inaugurated the W3C office in India last week [click here for press release]. We at IAMAI actively work with TDIL division of DiT and extend our full support to their initiative.

The first meeting of the Working Group for Local Languages was held in Mumbai on 17 September to discuss building of a consensus for implementation/execution of Local language Content in India. The meeting was attended by representatives of Local language publications that also have an on-line presence. Representatives of Malayala Manorama (Malayalam), OneIndia.in (Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu), Eenadu (Telugu), Dainik Bhaskar (Hindi), Prajavani (Kannada), Sakal (Marathi), Patrika (Hindi) were present. Representatives of W3C and Technology Development also attended the meeting for Indic Languages division of the Department of Information Technology.

I was present in the first meeting of the Working Group for Local Languages held in IAMAI’s Mumbai office on Sept 16, 2011 (Friday). We had a brief update from Alan Bird on International Standards (HTML standars, CSS3 standards etc for Indic). Dr. Somnath Chandra (Dept of Information Technology) passionately updated the entire team about the various things the govt has been doing in the Indic space. We all came up with a huge “whine” Indic-list for Somnath and he was very patient to hear our sad song. I must commend his calmness and he promised to get back to us on various issues.

I recommended including/talking to Wikipedia which has been doing exceptional work in the Indic space. Other items discussed during the meeting were,

  • Search engines for Indic
  • Hurdles in reading Indic on mobile handsets.
  • Unicode fonts & keyboard standardization

The Working Group is headed by Mariam Mathew who has been very passionate about Indian languages on the internet. The Group has few short term goals and long term goals. The output will be good provided each of us contribute to the group.

Special thanks to IAMAI in initiating this effort.


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