Where once information technology was almost exclusively in English, today Hindi is more and more often getting native versions of software and hardware tools.
Hindi and Information Technology
One of the most interesting things I’ve read about recently is the increasing role of Hindi in information technology and technology in general in India.
It’s no surprise that English is spoken widely in India; even though only 5% of the population is formally bilingual in English, a huge proportion of the population of India speaks at least some English. English is often thought of as the sign of an elite upbringing in India. This stems partially from the influence of the British rule, where anyone who wanted to get ahead in the world in India had to learn English in order to deal with the British, and partially from the outsize influence that American culture has over the world.
For both of these reasons, it’s long been assumed by many in India that in order to take advantage of information technology systems and other products – even the Internet – you had to speak English. However, in recent years this is no longer true, and Indians are waking up to the fact that you can get most software and hardware in Hindi-specific versions.
Weight of Numbers
One main reason for this change is the simple fact that Hindi is not only the official government language of India, which of course would make having information technology available in Hindi a point of pride, but also the simple fact that nearly 350 million people speak Hindi as a first language, with tens of millions more speaking at least a little Hindi. That’s more people than the entire population of the United States, after all. Free market forces alone will push the makers of software and hardware to cater directly to this huge market.
Another reason is India’s simple rise to prominence on the world scene. As India matures into a real player in international policy, it’s natural for both companies to cater to her needs and for her people to begin asserting their own culture over others. Both of these aspects combine to make Hindi a major part of information technology today.