Wikimedia, a non-profit organisation behind the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, is setting up an office in India in the next six months.
Wikimedia Foundation India will be Wikimedia’s second office after the first one in San Francisco that was set up in 2005.
But why India?
“There is a lot of excitement in India about the Internet. With so many languages, India poses a lot of opportunities. We already have a very successful local community in India and we want to strengthen it,” said Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, over a crackling phone line from Hong Kong.
Although the location is not yet final, Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore are strong contenders. Wikipedia is the fifth largest website in the world and the largest non-profit website.
Wales will be visiting Mumbai over the weekend for a public lecture at Sophia College auditorium. “The main reason I am here is to spread awareness on how Wikipedia exists in Indian languages too. Most people access Wikipedia English, but not many know it is available in their language too,” added Wales.
With a large population soon accessing the Internet on their mobiles, Wales feels that providing them the mobile experience in an Indian language will be good.
There are already 20 Indian language Wikipedias with 200 administrators. But they want to strengthen its Indian language base and increase the number and depth of articles.
The Wikipedia goal is to have 2.5 lakh articles for every language that is spoken by more than one million people.
It is not only work that attracts Wales to India. He loves the energy, the food and most of all the enthusiastic students he meets here. “I once gave a lecture at the IIT-Bombay and their passion was amazing. If I hold a lecture in a US university, about 300 students show up. In India, 3,000 turn up and that is the level of enthusiasm,” said Wales.
(Jimmy Wales will deliver a public lecture at the Sophia Bhabha Hall, Sophia College, Bhulabhai Desai Marg, Breach Candy, on October 31, 6.30 pm )