While proficiency in the English language has a certain aspirational quotient in India, a new wave of internet users in the country are opting to access the internet in their native language. While English is the most common language on the internet, only about 12% of India’s population is familiar with English. Putting a PC on every desk, Microsoft’s vision at the time, wouldn’t have been possible while alienating a large size of the population. Microsoft, with its Project Bhasha initiative, started focusing on Indic language computing and with progressive steps in the direction through the years. Now, Windows 10 supports over a dozen Indian languages out of the box.
By 2021 500 million users of indian language while english users will be less than half the number. Hindi-speaking users alone will overtake English-speaking users and Hindi will be the most used language on the Internet in India while Marathi, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu speaking internet users will form 30% of the total Indian language internet user base. ShareChat, a popular app that allows you to share diverse content — from memes to news to cooking recipes — in 10 languages and 27 dialects, garners over 3.5 million daily active users. DailyHunt, the leading news aggregator with over 150 million app installs, offers content in 14 local languages.
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One of the unresolved challenges though is the e-commerce ecosystem and the payments interface which are still not Indian-language-friendly, preventing the masses to transact online. Not just in India, but globally too, the dominance of English language online is fading. A linguistic democratization would help more and more Indians experience the power of computing and the internet. As infrastructural and ecosystem challenges are met, India’s growing digital literacy also needs to be supported by a multi-lingual digital world.