The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), a not-for-profit organization under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), hosted a two-day event from March 27-28, 2023, to drive efforts towards an inclusive and multilingual internet in India. The event, held in honor of Universal Acceptance Day, aimed to bring together industry experts, government officials, decision-makers, and thought-leaders to raise awareness on the importance of Universal Acceptance (UA) and how it can change the internet landscape.
Importance of Universal Acceptance
India is home to over 18,000 dialects, which can be a significant barrier to internet adoption. Providing internet services in native languages is crucial for bridging the current digital divide. Providing a multilingual internet user interface is essential for connecting with non-internet users and promoting digital inclusion across India and the world. Furthermore, experts noted that the next billion internet users are likely to come from non-English speaking countries. Therefore, achieving a multilingual internet is critical to make the internet accessible to all.
Benefits of Universal Acceptance
Adoption of UA in India can add another 500 million broadband users, adding value to the digital economy, promoting startup ecosystems, and generating employment opportunities in the country. As noted by Tripti Sinha, ICANN Board Chair, the full potential of the internet cannot be realized until it becomes multilingual. Moreover, Sally Costerton, Interim President and CEO, ICANN, suggested that the Indian government can lead the way in promoting multilingual internet systems, similar to their efforts in the financial sector with Unicode.
UA is a Solution to Multilingual Issues
Dr. Ajay Data, UASG Chair, noted that UA is a solution to multilingual issues. It ensures that all valid domain names and email addresses can be used equally by all internet-enabled applications, devices, and systems, regardless of script, language, or character length. This is a significant step towards creating a more inclusive internet that caters to the needs of all users.
India as a Flag Bearer for Universal Acceptance
India is turning into a digital economy and has been chosen as the flag bearer to promote and promulgate Universal Acceptance for digital inclusion. The event hosted policy and decision-makers, government officials, thought-leaders, and industry experts from India and across the globe who deliberated on building a multilingual internet, including emails and websites in native languages to bridge the digital divide, connect non-internet users, and promote digital inclusion.