10 Sep The power of Digital India lies in its vernacular diversity
Language is a vital part of human communities and connections. Especially in a vast and diverse democracy like India, no single idea can be communicated without overcoming the language barrier. To illustrate, about 121 languages with more than 19,500 dialects are spoken by 121 crore Indians.
It is therefore important to note the importance of the world’s 3rd most spoken language (by 615 million people) on the occasion of ‘Hindi Diwas’. 14th of September, 1957 marks the day when India adopted Hindi as one of the official 22 scheduled languages. Mahatma Gandhi even referred to Hindi as the ‘language of the Indian masses’. Today, nine out of ten people in India are local language internet-users.
Undoubtedly, vernacular is the way forward for fintech and technology driven businesses. Given the long strides we have made in ‘Digital India’ in the past few years, it is now important for us to go beyond accessing the internet in the local language – and use this power to be self-reliant or ‘Atmanirbhar’.
Move over English-Vinglish.
From food deliveries, e-banking, wallet payments to real-time intelligence to farmers, the past decade has witnessed a sporadic rise in the demand for localised content to solve real-world problems. With the government’s push for ‘Digital India’ and ‘Cashless India’, most brands have leveraged local languages to make their products and services more accessible. Major global apps including Netflix, Facebook, Twitter etc. for example, now support 8-9 regional languages. A majority of Indians communicate over WhatsApp in vernacular and prefer watching global TV, sports and movies in vernacular languages.
Given that Hindi is also the primary language of communication between state and central governments, it only makes sense that vernaculars are formalized on a local level as well. If some people speak in and understand Hindi only for example, connecting with them to solve their financial problems with banking needs, or skilling issues with e-education in Hindi is more impactful than English.
Say hello to Hindi Medium.
Every mother tongue lays the strong foundation to nurture learning, creativity and trust at formative stages of our brain/ during our growing years. Given that the vastness of India is a treasure trove of extraordinary languages and dialects, using it constantly is not just a way of preserving our cultural diversity, but also the way to nourish our collective potential to be educated, skilled, employed – ultimately ‘Átmanirbhar’.
As the CEO of the leading government think-tank, NITI Aayog recommended recently, “Forget English, and go vernacular”.