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Digital Divide
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INDIAN LANGUAGES AND DIGITAL DIVIDE 

The information technology revolution is claimed to have made India a knowledge economy on the strength of competency in English. Though the online population in India is 8.1 crore which is fourth in the world, Indian languages are ignored by Public institutions, Indian industry, and university and Hence World community.

Basque language  spoken by less than seven lakh people has 1830 websites compared to 1249 websites in all Indian language websites put together for 15000 lakh people of south asia speaking Indian languages.

Danish spoken by 5 million people has 45,872 websites that is 50 times more website than Hindi spoken by 550 million Indian people. 

Romance/Rumantsch language is spoken by 35 thousand people in Switzerland (2000 Swiss census) constituting less than one percent of Swiss population (0.9%) has 55 websites which is more than Malayalam spoken by 35000 thousand people.

One remarkable feature of trend in internet usage by language is the eroding dominance of English from 84.0 % of web pages in 1997 to 68.4% in 2000 to 29.1 % by 2009. At the same time the share of Chinese language in internet traffic has increased from less than 0.05 % in 1997 to 20.1 % in 2009.The share of Indian languages was tiny in 1997 and is also negligible by 2009.Similarly there are 28.28 lakh websites in Chinese by July 2009.On the other hand India has only 1249 websites in all Indian language websites by January 2009.

Indian languages do not have a single website in the top 1000 of world, Chinese have three in top 20 and 12 in the top 100.

All the top 100 websites in India are in English. But all the top hundred websites in Brazil are in Portuguese, Russian in Russia and Chinese in China.

The use of the language in government and professional education are the crucial determinants in the internet penetration of languages.  

* Less than twenty in the top ranked websites.

        The top websites in all native language countries are in their respective languages and almost all top websites in colonial language countries are in English. Not a single website in the Anglophone countries of Philippines and Malaysia are in Malay or in Filipino. All websites are in English.           All colonial language countries maintain their main websites in English and all native language countries maintain their websites in their respective native languages. The main website of the government of China is in Chinese, Indonesian in Indonesia, Thai in Thailand, Korean in Korea, Chinese in Taiwan and Vietnamese in Vietnam. But in all colonial language countries the main websites are in English. It is in English in India, Philippines, Malaysia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Without doubt all people in Bangladesh speak Bengali and virtually all in Pakistan understand Urdu as national language, but their main website is not in those languages. Similarly Bahasa Malaysia and Filipino are ignored in favour of English in Malaysia and Philippines.

          Recent trends reveal that generally the number of websites in native language countries is increased (except in Korea and Indonesia) and has declined in all colonial language countries. The number of websites increased by 11,904 in China between September 2009 and June 2010 and it declined by 176 in India for the same period . The number of websites increased by 1885 in Thai language during eight month period that is more than the entire websites hitherto created in south Asia. The situation in Pakistan and Bangladesh is pathetic. While number of websites in Filipino has declined to 128. It has increased to 1105 in Vietnamese.

    Great Indian Fraud: Except Indian languages, every other language is wort h for cyber space. South Asians are told that poor farmers and rural children have to learn English first to access knowledge. Pity the Indian poor. East Asian languages having thousands and thousands of characters could find place in keyboard of computers. When would Indian languages having less than fifty nine alphabets be used in cyber space for extending knowledge to millions and millions of children?

Japanese Keyboard Typing Master

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CKC Chinese input system

 

  

 

         One can open any Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and other language websites with complicated scripts without any font problem. Unfortunately none of the Indian languages can be. India has 27 million computers and not a single fraction of the computers have in-scripted keyboards for Indian languages. It cost nothing to order computers key boards with Indian scripts. Not even government purchases it and all websites are in English and are not accessible to more than a billion people. Till now here is no uniform standardisation effort in transliteration. Each uses their own system. The Chinese have pinyin. Indian languages have no name for Romanisation either. 


Read Malayalathinde Bhaavi-Bhasha Asoothranavum, Maanava Vikasanavum” (The Future of malayalam - Language Planning and Human Devolopment) in Malayalam written by K. Sethu Raman published by Maathrubhoomi Books for further details and analysis.