Here’s what it would take for more Indians to go digital

It’s hardly surprising that with 428 million Internet users in India, 200 million more would be willing to go digital if they only had the choice to choose their own language. 

A report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Kantar IMRB, a market research firm, ascertain that if the internet was available in Indic languages then 23 percent non-Internet users would be happy to jump online. 

With India’s diverse demographic and dispersion, it’s only natural that English may prove to be a language barrier when it comes to Internet usage. 

The report claimed, “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 methodology followed for this report included surveying 60,000 people across 170 cities and 15,000 people from 750 villages.

India has the second largest number of Internet users in the world, with China leading the pack. By June 2018, the Internet user base is expected to touch the 500 million mark. 

One of the reasons China is number one, in terms of users, is because they use the Mandarin script for Internet content. That’s not just at a basic or niche level, in fact, Mandarin is the second most popular language on the Internet after English. 

In comparison, the report states that content in Indic languages barely accounts for 0.1 percent of the global content.

The push to Indic languages is essential if the Digital India vision truly wants to expand. A whole ecosystem needs to build around them to raise Internet adoption and empower the weaker sections of society digitally, as per IAMAI.

Not only that, the integration of Indic languages can bridge the divide between the rural and urban centers of the nation. Because, as of 2017, the penetration of the Internet in urban areas stood at 65 percent and rural areas were at a mere 20 percent.

Even now, there’s already a demand for content in Indic languages with 76 percent of rural India and 66 percent of urban Indians consuming Indic content when they log on. 

Reliance Jio has tried to empower the divides in the smartphone market with their 4G feature phone and the cheapest smartphone in India. The price war between telcos has made accessing the net considerably cheaper and flooded the market with a multitude of consumption options. 

Prabhjote Gill is the Senior Journalist at Business Insider India. She covering everything space, tech and defence at Business Insider India. She is also in-charge of allocating stories to junior writers.