In India there are over 462 million internet users and 216.5 million are active social media users. Growth of social media users is dependent on the growth of internet penetration in India. With the revolution in the telecom sector (data speed and price war), it is further expected that the internet users in India will grow by at least 50 million yearly till 2020. On the other side, social media marketing has started gaining significant budget of the total marketing budgets of the businesses which will continue as consumers are spending good amount of time on internet especially using computers and smartphones over traditional mediums of marketing platforms. As per the study of IBFE on ‘India’s Advertising and Marketing Industry’, the digital marketing spend has grown at 33% annually between 2010 and 2016.
India has a reputation of being Anglophone nation. Still only 10% of its total population speaks English as their first, second or third language. Around one out of four Indians cannot read or write English. So, India’s 22 official languages (and several hundred unofficial ones) in 11 different scripts make it a difficult market to crack for internet growth.
Dr. Ajay Data, Founder and CEO of Data XGen Technologies says, “Social connectivity is a big driver of internet usage. In urban India, 89% of the online population uses the internet for online communication which is very less in the case of Rural India. Language dispersion in India presents a significant obstacle in Rural India for the growth of internet. Text in English language is a medium of a very limited population while voice, photo and video are popularly burning the internet data in the rural part of the country.”
Indian languages account for less than 0.1 per cent content on World Wide Web. Also, over 89 per cent population is non-English speaking and unable to read and communicate via email as the language utilised to communicate is English. Language Literacy plays a major role for someone to take full advantage of being online. The most spoken languages in India in 2016, according to our analysis based on secondary data, are approximately Hindi (544.39m), Bengali (107.60m), Telugu (95.40m), Marathi (92.74m), Tamil (78.41m), Urdu (66.47m), Gujarati (59.44m), Kannada (48.96m), Punjabi (37.55m), Assamese (16.98m). The total of population using these key languages comes about 1147.95m that is a larger share of vernacular language speaking population in the country.
As per the McKinsey’s report on Barriers to internet adoption in India, the major issues identified are ‘Low income and affordability’, ‘Incentives’ and ‘User Capabilities’ which needs to be addressed parallel to the infrastructure development to create a complete ecosystem for achieving success on internet for all. In this a crucial barrier is ‘User Capability’ which includes barriers such as a lack of digital literacy and a lack of language literacy (i.e. inability to read and write). The root cause of such literacy barriers is often and under-resourced education system. Government of India’s Dot Bharat domain initiative is one part of creating a complete ecosystem and overcome such barrier, especially for the non-English speaking population. For digital India dream, this must be promoted highly as it is good to enable the technology with languages for fast growth.