Offering an opportunity to access the Internet in a language of their choice would have helped over 200 million Indians to go digital, said a new report on Thursday. With 481 million Internet users (as of December 2017), India has the second highest Internet user base in the world after China and is expected to reach 500 million users by June 2018. Internet in Indic languages would be a key motivator for 23 percent of Internet non-users to go digital, said the report by not-for-profit industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and market research firm Kantar IMRB.
"Critical Internet services like digital payments, basic e-commerce, online job search, etc. are extremely limited at present because of the lack of ease of conducting such activities in a language of choice," the report said The findings are based on a survey of 60,000 individuals across 170 cities and towns and 15,000 individuals in 750 villages.
Globally, China has managed to achieve the highest number of Internet users by using the Mandarin script for Internet content so much so that it is the second most popular language on the Internet after English. In contrast, Indic content accounts for barely 0.1 percent of the worldwide Internet content, the report added. But to realise the "Digital India" vision, the country will have to develop an Indic Internet ecosystem that will raise Internet adoption and truly promote digital empowerment of the socio-economically weaker sections of the population, IAMAI said.
Offering access to the Internet in more Indian languages can also help bridge the rural-urban digital divide. As of December 2017, Internet penetration in urban India was 64.84 percent as compared to 20.26 percent in the rural areas. According to the findings of the report, a relatively higher proportion of Indic content consumption can be observed in rural India (76 percent) while in urban India over 66 percent of the Internet users access the Internet in Indic languages.
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