India, with its existing 243 million Internet users, is all set to get a 'dot Bharat' domain name from this month that will help bridge the digital divide and accelerate e-governance. This will be soon followed by web addresses in six regional languages.
In tandem with its dream of 'Digital India' to connect with the people across the country, the new Bharatiya Janata Party-led government is expected to unveil the 'dot Bharat' domain name Aug 21. It will also soon launch Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) or web addresses in six regional languages.
The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) have been working for the last two years on the dot Bharat domain name.
"The dot Bharat initiative was taken up for our non-English speaking people. With this initiative, people can now type the URL in their own languages. This will help people in the villages and remote places. Hence it will help bridge the digital divide. This will also encourage generation of local content," NIXI chief executive Govind, who uses only one name, told IANS.
Telecommunications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is expected to launch the dot Bharat domain name Aug 21, he added.
"After the dot Bharat domain name, in some time we will launch six regional URLs in Bengali, Telegu, Tamil, Gujarati, Punjabi and Urdu," Govind added.
The English version of dot Bharat is dot IN. He said there are at least 600,000 private dot IN domain names apart from around 1,000 government domain names.
The dot Bharat domain name will also help people using scripts like Marathi, Konkani, Maithili, Dogri, Bodo, Sindhi and Nepali apart from Hindi, Govind said.
The Dot Bharat domain name will be a step towards connecting people from all walks of life through e-governance. "People can now log in by typing in Hindi into the sites. So far they had to type in English even if the site had Hindi content," Govind noted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his maiden Republic Day address from the Red Fort on Friday, said: "E-governance is a way to good governance...There was a time when it was said that railway unites the country. I say today IT has the power to unite the country and its people."
The idea behind the new URLs is that "language must not be a barrier to use the Internet," Govind said.
Indian Internet users will surpass those in the US by the end of this year and around 500 million people will be online by 2018, Rajan Anandan, managing director, Google India, said recently.
India took 10 years to go from 10 million Internet users to 100 million. Now, five million new Internet users are added every month.