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Indian Languages can Add 205 Million New Internet Users: IAMAI

To realise the Digital India vision, India too will have to develop an Indic internet ecosystem that will allow for more internet services to be offered in Indic languages

Potential 205 million internet non-users are likely to go digital if internet is provided in a language of their choice, according to the recently released report titled “Internet in Indic 2017” published jointly by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Kantar IMRB.

The report estimates 335 million out of the total 481 million internet users in India are non-unique users of internet in Indic, out of which 193 million are non-unique users from Urban India (58 percent) and 141 million non-unique users from Rural India (42 percent). The term non-unique refers to the fact these users do not access internet only in Indic, but that only a small proportion of their usage is in Indic.

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 internet in Indic. Indic content consumption is higher in socio-economically weaker sections, as is evident from the fact that both in Urban and Rural India, SEC D/E have around 80 percent users accessing Indic content.

The findings suggest that age is a significant factor determining the Indic consumption over internet. Survey suggests that 75 percent of users over 45 years of age in Urban India and 85 percent of users over the age of 45 years in rural India access internet in Indic.

The report also finds that usage of Indic in Urban India is strictly restricted to various forms of entertainment like music/video streaming news and other forms of entertainment. On an average, 70 percent of total usage of internet in Indic is restricted to such activities.

In comparison, critical services like online banking, job search or ticket booking (which is the most popular ecommerce activity in India) still reflects very low local content usage (less than 20 percent). Even access of a search engine, which is often the first port of call for most internet users, is only 39 percent in Indic.

According to IAMAI, this reflects the restrictions of access of such critical internet services in Indic, which in turn is limiting internet penetration in Rural India and amongst the economically weaker sections.

The survey also reveals that internet in Indic will be a key motivator for 23 percent of internet non-users to go digital. This in effect suggests estimated 205 million new internet users would come online if internet content in Indic is promoted in India.

IAMAI would like to highlight that Internet in Indic is not limited to content in Indic but in effect refers to the entire digital ecosystem. Going forward, URLs, domain names, key tags, and indexing have to be promoted in Indic to make the entire digital interface user friendly.

Globally, China has managed to achieve the highest number of internet users by using Mandarin script for internet content, so much so that Chinese 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.

IAMAI stated that to realise the Digital India vision, India too will have to develop an Indic internet ecosystem that will allow for more internet services to be offered in Indic, raise internet adoption and truly promote digital empowerment of the socio-economically weaker section of India.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is an association with ambitions of representing the entire gamut of digital businesses in India. It was established in 2004 by the leading online publishers, but in the last 13 years has come to effectively address the challenges facing the digital and online industry including online publishing, mobile advertising, online advertising, ecommerce, mobile content and services, mobile and digital payments, and emerging sectors such as fintech, edtech, healthtech, among others.

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