This Company From Jaipur Wants To Take Email To India’s Masses
Ever wondered why India has such a glaring digital divide despite being home to 220 million internet users? Well, if that thought crossed your mind, you’re not alone. Meet this gentleman from Jaipur, whose name, ironically enough is Ajay Data. Data is the founder and CEO of an IT services organisation called Data XGen Technologies.
Last month, Data launched what he calls “Datamail, the world’s first linguistic free email service”. At the launch event, Data said, “Indian languages account for less than 0.1 percent of the content on the world wide web or www (as per an IAMAI report). Over 89 percent of India’s population do not speak English and are therefore unable to read and communicate via email as the language of communication on the world wide web is English.”
The linguistic email service offers Indians a way to communicate in eight regional languages including Hindi (हिन्दी), Gujarati (ગુજરાતી), Urdu (اردو), Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਦੇ) , Tamil (தமிழ்), Telugu (తెలుగు), Bengali (বাংলা) and Marathi (मराठी). He also plans to launch the service in Arabic, Chinese and Russian and set up data centres internationally for each international language service.
India has 22 official languages but in truth, hundreds of regional languages are spoken on a daily basis. This rich diversity seems to be the genesis of Data’s idea of Datamail. He says, “The issue of language is extremely critical, which remains largely unaddressed. Datamail can break this clutter and lead the Digital India dream.”
Under Digital India, the government promises to connect millions of people around the country and transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. Data has not yet approached the government for support, but hopes that the government will approach him and promote his cause. He told BloombergQuint, “All we want from the government is that they help us in reaching out to Indians with this app. We want to realise the dream of Swadeshi for India. Until now we have only called ourselves an IT superpower, but it’s high time we take an important step towards actually becoming one using our own indigenous technologies.”
Based on the company’s research and analysis, the most widely spoken languages in India are:
Hindi which is spoken by nearly 544 million people, followed by Bengali, spoken by over 107 million people, followed by Telugu, Marathi, Tamil , Urdu, Gujarati, Kannada, Punjabi and Assamese. These languages account for nearly 89 percent of India’s population, according to Datamail’s internal research.
Based on an IAMAI report, local language content penetration on the internet is gradually picking up in India. This year, in Indian cities, the regional language penetration reached 43 percent whereas the figure in villages stood at a whopping 57 percent.
Datamail is a free application available on Android and iOS. Users can download the app and create an email address in one of the available regional languages of their choice. While Data maintains that no other company around the world offers such a service for email addresses, you can already use services like Gmail or Yahoo Mail in regional languages. However, an email ID must be in English, which can be a deterrent for many vernacular adopters of email around the country.
For example, if you want an email address on Datamail in Marathi, it would be- मराठी@डेटामेल.भारत instead of email@example.com. This might appear to be a minor tweak, but it would be interesting to see how monumental it can prove to be when it comes to bridging the digital divide and truly connecting India.