India is changing, and fast. Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is a visionary and his attempts to weave together the fabric of technology with governance, and public services are commendable. His Digital India initiative and E-governance projects aim to empower the people to become active partners in the growth process. Access to governance, in his opinion, should be transparent, deliver accountability and provide results and outcomes.
A Digital India
In 2017, the number of smartphone users has reached a staggering figure of 340 million! This number is likely to reach 460 million by 2021. An IAMAI report concluded that the urban population has 60% internet penetration with almost 450 million Internet users as of this June. The rural population has an additional potential of 750 million users which will be utilizedwith time.
The Internet and E-governance
Without a doubt, the Internet and smartphones are going to be the bedrock of PM Modi’s Digital India initiative. These outlets are the primary source of information dissemination and through them, services can and will be provided. Gyandoot project in Madhya Pradesh, project FRIENDS in Kerala, e-Procurement project in Andhra Pradesh and Khajane project in Karnataka are some of the examples of initiatives taken up by the government that rely intensively on the internet and the use of phones and smartphones.
Language, An Obvious Barrier
India is a diverse nation. We have 22 official languages, and 1,652 languages have been identified to be spoken across the nation. The aforementioned initiatives by the government were chosen to convey the diversity of states in which they were launched, to bring forth the importance of local languages as a barrier to the said progress.
The Importance of Multilingual Platforms
Currently, the Internet and governance are primarily done in English, a language that is only spoken by 30% of the population. Sahit Aula, in an article published in Forbes, delineates the barriers that a majority of the Indian population faces due to their lack of fluency in English. Socio-economic impacts of this are devastating. A digital India will only give rise to a divide, and the original aim of e-governance, which is to promote all-inclusive growth will lay to waste. After all, what benefit are accountability and transparency if it isn’t understood by the majority of the population?
The Chinese example
Although in China several dialects are spoken, the official language, which is popularly used, is Mandarin. This ensures that the benefit of all services by the government is communicated to all its citizens. Important public notices are effectively communicated, and the overall well-being of the population is ensured. The Chinese export-led growth model is an epitome of unprecedented growth.Having a standard language understood by all greatly helped in realizing the benefits and incentives offered by the government.
The Solution for India
Our strength lies in our diversity. It is absurd to imagine an enforced common language in India. The notion is impractical and unrealistic. However, several public and private initiatives are underway to tackle the problem of many languages.
The Technology For Indian Development program has been launched by DIT with the vision of evolving the masses into a knowledge society. Several tools have been developed to facilitate human-machine learning, to consolidate technology for Indian languages and to promote the use of information processing tools for language studies and research.
Even in the private sector, companies like Reverie.inc are developing language solutions that allow digital platforms to be available through multilingual processes. Translators and transliteration tools developed by them are actively promoting multilingual governance.
A Promising Future
Initiatives launched by the Indian Prime Minister make our future look bright. India is to experience growth like never before; the world knows this. However, for the benefits of the growth to reach every citizen, a multilingual approach is necessary. Only when all of India understands the message, will it grow. Our greatest strength is our diversity, but only if it is promoted through unity. Language can be a barrier or a tool, let’s use it as a tool.
e-governance in India, e-governance initiatives by India, the number of languages in India, language as a barrier to e-governance, advantages and disadvantages of e-governance, types of e-governance, digital India, advantages of digital India, languages and digital India, digital India platform.