IIT Gandhinagar Hosts Pre-Event Of India Internet Governance Forum 2022, Emphasizes On Multilingual Internet

IIT Gandhinagar Hosts Pre-Event Of India Internet Governance Forum 2022, Emphasizes On Multilingual Internet

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Gandhinagar hosted a pre-event of the India Internet Governance Forum (IIGF) 2022 on December 2. The event emphasised the significance of the multilingual internet as a socio-economic tool of empowerment that can give a voice to people in the language of their choice. The pre-IIGF event included scholarly talks on less-familiar aspects of internet governance, the potential of multilingual internet, and features and challenges of Universal Acceptance (UA) by eminent subject experts from industry and academia.

Dr Ajay Data, Founder and CEO, Data Ingenious Global Limited talked about “Universal Acceptance and its Coverage” and introduced the audience to the subjects of multilingual internet and UA. He also explained the role of web developers in making internet systems UA-ready and what opportunities it can open up at various levels.

Mr Mahesh Kulkarni, Founder CTO, Evaris Systems LLP, delivered a talk on “Universal Acceptance – A Fundamental Requirement for Multilingual Internet”. Highlighting five criteria of UA and its importance, Mr Kulkarni said, “UA is a foundational requirement for a truly multilingual Internet, one in which users around the world can navigate entirely in local languages. Nowadays, domain names have become very crucial because they provide a unique opportunity to create an online identity. To make the internet more inclusive for communities around the world, domain names are now available in many different languages and scripts. It is also the key to unlocking the potential of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) to foster competition, consumer choice and innovation in the domain name industry.”

Mr Kulkarni also elaborated on the nuances and challenges of implementing the goal of multilingual internet with respect to Indian languages.

In the end, Professor Rajat Moona, Director, IIT Gandhinagar, and a leading Computer Scientist discussed “Empowering Local Communities through Internet and Vernacular Language” and how multilingual internet can augment a country and local community’s growth journey in various ways.

Sharing an anecdote about how a Hariyanvi taxi driver could easily find map-based navigation using voice-enabled search, Professor Moona said, “Indian languages are largely phonetic in nature and not pictorial, most of them are written the way they are spoken. So, speech input, if done phonetically gives accurate results. With the increased use of smartphones, people have realised the strength of spoken words and this can be multiplied to empower people in using the internet in their languages. It can open up a plethora of possibilities for people and prove to be a powerful mechanism to do things, and business online in this way. Even vegetable sellers, autorickshaw drivers, small shop owners etc. can benefit from this inclusive network.”

Concluding his talk, Professor Moona said, “The current challenges can be solved with certain kinds of standardisations, but what empowerment and confidence a person and our community can gain might be one of the most enabling factors of multilingual internet. I wish Indian language-based content will become much more popular in future for the empowerment of people.”