Hindi Hai Hum — The Indian Language Landscape

The advent of Hindi in the online landscape had been swaying along in the initial years of the internet in India, but as the web has come-of-age, so has the acceptance of this oft-neglected language.

One might question whether Hindi even is a neglected language, but the fact remains that early on, most Indian users had become familiar with using the internet only in English. Although they might not be comfortable with it, it was assumed that English would remain the default mode of online consumption, the lingua franca, if you will.

But the past decade has brought along several key changes in the landscape, changes which tip the scales in favour of Indian languages. One of these important changes is internet penetration in tier-II and tier-III cities, which has increased manifold in the last five years. This population prefers content in their native tongue, with numerous studies showing that people engage with news more deeply if it’s delivered in Indian vernacular. The majority of Indian households have a deep-seated connection with their native tongue and using the web in that tongue obviously leads to a more engaged audience.

You might have become accustomed to viral Whatsapp forwards written in Hindi. These messages are born in random family groups and are shared endlessly to other circles. The popularity of these forwards indicates an underlying want of the public — to read, write and communicate in Hindi.

With the advent of Hindi supporting keyboards and operating systems, that’s exactly what they have started doing. Thus, their time online is more joyful, and more thoughtful as they can better convey their thoughts and emotions to their closed ones, or even too large audiences.

The numbers — of course — support this narrative. Hindi usage online has grown 94% YoY, and Hindi search queries have quadrupled in the past year. Although regular perusal of Indian websites may suggest otherwise, only 15% of the literate population in the country understands English. The rest are hungry for content in their language, a hunger that isn’t even close to being satisfied. The Government of India recently made it mandatory for all phones sold in the country to be Indian language friendly. Thus, adding support for Hindi is the need of the hour.

The story of the rise of Hindi vernacular online is a story of inclusion. Inclusion, which presents an opportunity for a diverse population to come online and share their thoughts, to voice their concerns, and to broaden their perspectives.

The next wave of Indian users coming online isn’t going to come online in English, and they will require a diverse range of Hindi content related to all kinds of subjects.

This requirement is one that’s currently being massively underdelivered to the market. The landscape is changing; it needs a lot of Hindi content, and it needs it now. Here’s where Pepper comes in: we are a content-mediation platform that connects talented writers to organisations that require content, and we specialise in the Indian vernacular. Visit peppercontent.in to know more!

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