For a while the discussion about domain names in Indian language has been going on. India is about to get its own internationalized domain names (IDNs). China and Russia have their own IDNs for a while now.
Today’s Mint carried an article “Hindi domain name to bridge digital divide” which talks about .bharat TLD (top level domain) being made available in India.
While experts applaud the move as a first step in the right direction, they maintain that the entire ecosystem—comprising software, hardware and content—has to come together to make the Internet truly inclusive. India currently has close to 100 million Internet users out of a total population of 1.2 billion, of whom 74% are literate, according to Census 2011.
I wasn’t aware 74% of India is literate.
About 11% of the country’s population understands English, while 40% is well-versed in some form of Hindi, according to Census 2001.
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has given India the permission to release domainnames in 7 languages – Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu and Gujarati. The TLDs would be,
- dot-bharat for Hindi
- dot-Indiya for Tamil
Dot-bharat would cost about Rs 500 a year (seems to be cheaper than dot-in). Trademark holders would be given the first rights to reserve the dot-bharat domain (starting in March 2012). Post that cyber squatters are welcome.
Will Hindi Domain Names Help?
The assumption has been that once we have Indic domainnames a lot more people will be comfortable using the internet. As mention earlier in this post we need software, hardware, content – all to contribute the increase in usage of internet in India.
I still believe we are more a ‘reading community’ than a ‘writing community’. Currently we use English domainnames which host Indian language content, for e.g. Oneindia.in & many others have been doing that forever.
If I were to host under the domain वनइंडिया.bharat (oneindia.bharat), it would have the content which you see on http://hindi.oneindia.in. The argument is most people will be able to read वनइंडिया.bharat and not oneindia.in. So they will readily click on the वनइंडिया.bharat link as against oneindia.in.
Only time will tell how these internationalized domain names will change the internet usage in India. For now, it is a welcome development.