To widen the reach of the Digital India programme, all mobile handsets will have at least one Indian official regional language apart from Hindi and English by July 2017.
While this may increase the cost of a mobile handset by 10%, the move assumes importance given the government’s plans to offer e-governance services. The number of Internet users in the country stood at 371 million at the end of June this year, with around 1 billion mobile phone users in India.
A decision to this effect was taken by the ministry of electronics and information technology (IT) last week. Even existing mobile phones will come under the ambit of this new rule.
India is emerging as a hub for mobile handset manufacturing. Also, the government has trained its focus to digitally connect rural areas of the country and spend aroundRs.10,000 crore from the Universal Service Obligation Fund in the current financial year to build rural digital infrastructure.
According to government officials mobile users will be able to input in three languages—one local Indian official language, and English and Hindi while output will be for 22 Indian official languages. The date (July 2017) has been finalised after talking to all stakeholders and the industry has informed that such changes can be implemented within nine months.
In January this year, the Bureau of Indian Standards had specified the standards and requirements for Indian language support for mobile phone handsets. The request for these standards was received from the department of electronics and information technology as a need was felt with India being a multilingual country.
By Baishakhi Dutta