We all know how important languages become in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, and multi-ethnic country like India. They not only help us gain a sense of community but also aid in the smooth functioning of the government.
In fact, a lot of state governments leverage their politics by establishing a connect with the citizens using local languages. As long as it doesn’t border on favoritism, it is true that local languages can enable the government to become more citizen-centric and transparent.
Going multi-lingual digitally
The fact that our country boasts of 22 official languages at the state level underlines our dependency on indigenous languages and our inability to function in a single language.
To that end, availability of online content in Indic languages has also become crucial. With mobile phones and theInternet having become accessible to the lower strata of the society, it is important that they too have a means of communication congruent to their language.
With the government spearheading the way by incorporating local languages in SMS alerts, e-governance mobile applications, and websites, other sectors like e-commerce, banking, and healthcare are slowly following suit in adopting and making Indic languages native in their services.
Language solutions for the masses
In the light of growing internet penetration, from 27% in 2015 to 34.8% in 2016, online businesses have become aware and are trying to cater to the masses instead of only English-speaking consumers. Even tech giants like Google and Microsoft are trying to assimilate local Indian languages in their products and services.
Similarly, a plethora of Indian platforms like ReverieInc.com are also working towards creating language equality on the internet, so that the government can ensure better dissemination of information among citizens.
Such digital technologies enable language localization of customer-facing internet businesses, e-governance portals, and mobile apps. Their cloud solutions integrate with websites and apps to provide users with content in their preferred language in real-time. They are effectively bridging the language divide in the digital world.
Language directly proportional to governance
In Karnataka, all government offices operate in Kannada, which means all notice boards, paperwork, and RTI replies are in Kannada. This kind of staunch implementation makes it easy for native, non-English speaking, Kannadiga residents to access government offices. They can talk clearly with the officials, use their services accurately, and indulge in constructive grievance-redressal.
Following the example of China
On a global scale, a perfect example of the relation between language and governance is China. Their love for Chinese, the most popular dialect of Mandarin, is so profound and solid that it has not only had a social impact, but also an economic impact. Their huge political standing worldwide relies heavily on their refusal to bend down to the biased global standards of languages.
Out of a total literate user base of 700 million in India, less than a 100 million people know English. This means, to make the entire country digitally inclusive, all online content and services need to be available in at least the 12 most spoken Indian languages apart from English. To put that in perspective, currently the web space comprises of a total of 0.01% of Indian language content as compared to 57% content in English.
To obtain an optimum amount of connection with the citizens, the government—with the help of language solution providers, needs to move beyond English and delve deeper into Indic languages.
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