Additional Secretary, MeitY states providing multilingual internet crucial to bridge digital divide in India
Calling India the right place for Universal Acceptance Day celebrations, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), Bhuvnesh Kumar said that providing a multilingual internet user interface was crucial to bridge digital divide in the country. He was speaking at the curtain raiser of the 2-day event on Universal Acceptance Day, organised by National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), a non-for-profit company, under the aegis of the MeitY.
The event is aimed at driving collaborative efforts for inclusive and multilingual internet. The unique initiative was lauded by Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar as well.
Elaborating on the importance of Universal Acceptance, Bhuvnesh Kumar said, “India, which is home to many languages, has been successful in providing domain names in 22 official languages and this is a huge achievement. The country has the most internet users but it must be noted that language barriers also make it a base of the largest numbers of non-users who do not speak English. It is very important that we not just provide internet services but also create emails and websites in native languages. Providing a multilingual internet user interface is crucial for bridging the current digital divide. Through Universal Acceptance, we can connect with non-internet users and promote digital inclusion across the country and the world.”
Notably, India which is fast-turning into a digital economy, has been chosen as the flag bearer this year to promote and promulgate Universal Acceptance for digital inclusion. The event is a first-of-its-kind effort to initiate thought-provoking, meaningful and result-oriented dialogues to raise awareness, break the language barriers and make the internet accessible to a larger population and bring every citizen in the ambit of economic progress.
The first day of the event witnessed the presence of dignitaries and thought-leaders including Edmon Chung- Board Director, ICANN, Ajay Data - Chair UASG, Jia-Rong Low- Vice President & MD, APAC, ICANN, Anil Kumar Jain- CEO, NIXI, Asha Nangia- Scientist G (MeitY), T Santhosh- Scientist ‘E’, Internet Governance Division, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Nitin Wali - Senior Director of Stakeholder Engagement, ICANN, and others who shared their views with students, developers, researchers, content creators, participants and other guests.
Speaking during a session, Jia-Rong Low, Vice President & MD, APAC, ICANN said, “UA will break down language barriers to help bring the next billion people online. We need to work together to raise awareness for industry particularly the Indian tech companies to accept domain names in diff scripts. I am confident that India's vision for a multingual Internet will come to fruition and be a success case for the world.”
The first day of the event hosted engaging sessions and workshops on relevant and important topics such as ‘Introduction to Universal Acceptance (UA),’ ‘Making your website Universal Acceptance ready: Way Forward’, ‘Universal Acceptance work in India’, ‘Importance of UA for multi-cultural society in India,’ and others.
Universal Acceptance means building a technical environment to allow computing devices, operating systems, browsers, social media or e-commerce to accept instructions in local language other than English and ensure valid domain names and email addresses, regardless of script, language or character length. India has set a target of becoming a USD 1 trillion digital economy soon and it is important for the country to widen the cover of digital inclusion with UA. Achieving it can ensure every Indian has the ability to experience the full social and economic power of the internet by choosing domain name and email address in any language that best aligns with their interests, business, culture, language, and script.
Being celebrated globally on 28th March, this inaugural UA Day is being organised by UASG and ICANN and it aims to engage and mobilize top technical and language communities, companies, governments and DNS industry stakeholders to better understand the benefits of UA and how they can make their systems UA-ready. It is reported that more than 50 countries are participating in celebrating 1st Global UA day.
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