India and Internet

You may have heard – the reach of Internet in India is increasing rapidly. VoIP has came in, 3G & IPtv is at the doorstep, bandwidth prices are falling down, BSNL’s netPC launched, but I still do not see a great future. I do not see awareness of .in domains, for promoting Hindi, I do not see true Indian web-hosting companies, I do not see IT professionals solving India’s a few fundamental problems. We have built a good economy by serving west IT companies. The time is now to focus inside!

Lets see where do we stand in the massive Web of Internet. There are total 3,109,827,840 IPv4 addresses issued worldwide. India owns merely 0.6% (19,267,224) of them. We hold world’s 17.6% population and only 0.6% of internet is hosted/used inside India! On the other side, with 19% of world’s population China has 7.2% of IPv4 addresses becoming the third after USA (48%), UK (8%).

You may argue that I should have measured by # of Internet users, but there are not exact figures to support it. Some agencies say 40M Indians have touched Internet while other say 80M. Whatever, I feel # of IP addresses gives pretty accurate measure of a country’s Web presence (web-servers hosted) as well as usage (ISPs).

India comes at 15th in owning total 0.51% of all ccTLDs. China is at 5th with 3.36% of all ccTLDs (after US – 64%, Germany – 5%, UK – 3.7% and Canada – 3.6%). Where is the awareness for country specific domain names? Why are we still running for .com?

There is big gap between no of people who use internet vs no of people who know there is a Internet. Obviously, education is a must to get into this. But not everyone can get English education. The Internet has accepted, they cannot bring the whole world in one language, then why do we want to push English? I am sure there are 100 times more pages in Chinese than a total of Hindi/Marathi/Punjabi/Gujarati/Tamil/etc in Google index.

Apart from cheaper equipment and tariff, the other factor behind mobile revolution in India is the support for local languages (Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Punjabi, etc;) in handsets. We need the same for Internet. Not everyone can speak and understand English. Even ICANN has accepted this after a long time. Why IRCTC is not available in Hindi? Why Indian social networks like Bharatstudent.com, Bigadda.com, Hi5.com are not available in regional languages. There Wikipedia, BBC, Facebook & Orkut are available in Indian regional languages and gaining popularity. Why not Linux community provides free OS in Hindi? Besides, there is a Hindi keyboard layout, tools available for easy typing in Hindi/Gujarati/Tamil. And thanks to Google for Transliteration.

I am waiting for a day when our government shall issue a law/guidelines for website owners for enabling Internet for disabled people. I am waiting for a day when an Indian web-hosting giant opens up a data center in US/UK (for cost cutting bcoz their cooler climate and cheaper bandwidth) instead of collaborating with existing foreign providers. Today preliminary knowledge is almost free over Internet. I am waiting for a day when every member of our society has access to such information free and a child does not necessarily need to buy a book. I am waiting for a day when free internet kiosks will be available roadside and we can access Wikipedia, maps/routes and information will be a hand apart for the poorest guy in my country.

– Ankit

Ref:
* Country wise IP count as of 2009-12-19
* ICANN Wiki and Country-wise Total Domains Data as of 2009-12-14
* Second source for IP stats http://www.ip2location.com/ip2location-internet-ip-address-2010-report.aspx . Here too India is at 19th, and China at 3rd.

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4 thoughts on “India and Internet

  1. Mohit

    Ankit, I really understand the sentiment here! But according to me, here are the roadblocks:

    1. I have met number of people in last few months who are entrepreneurs and there are hardly people who are looking at Indian market. Arguments…US – quick money, more money , standard(??)! India – less money, delayed payments, people dont care and all! To a certain extent there are problems but each place requires a different business plan which they don’t “want” to understand.

    2. No local languages for India specific sites – Only because of this pathetic mentality that English means standard and that a portal in any local language would not be that “coool”. Sad!

    3. Even youth today thinks that talking in English is fashionable. Naturally, when youth is going that way, businesses will go that way!

    Remedies:
    1. Just like adv. industry has done, it has made Hindi a brand. So, we need to create portals which could qualify as “coool” in local languages!

    2. We need to do it ourselves. Agree to it or not, most Indian IT firms are considered shit or a supplier of cheap labour outside than IT solutions providers. ANd they are earning well..so there is less chance of them looking at Indian market! I would say, let us start that and make local languages a brand!

    Overall, a wonderfully researched and thought out article!

  2. Viral

    I think,

    – It is not required that everyone on earth use internet.
    – Many people use it indirectly, such as using online ticket booking via agent
    – More people use Mobile for communication as it does not require read / write skill, which around ( x%) fair amount of people do not have.

    But yes, still we need more local language sites are local news paper or something similar.

  3. Darshana

    Nice post Ankit. I do agree with you that internet awareness needs to increase in our country but only localizing the sites is not enough. Many people scared of even touching computers….

  4. Kiran Marke

    Certainly entrepreneurs used to ignore Indian Market becoz they have to deal in Rs instead of $. But This recession has changed this thought. When we were not getting US\UK projects we have started looking inside. I am talking from my experience. I had never worked with Indian client before. But in last few months i was working on project proposals from indian clients. There is sure turnaround here. Small but definitely there is.

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