India has stolen a march on several countries by breaking the language barrier on the Internet.
Seven Indian languages — Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu — have earned the distinction of becoming the only languages other than English, Russian and Arabic to support an entire web address written exclusively in them.
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body that governs website addresses, has allocated seven domain names in each of these languages that can be used for local websites.
This makes India the only country to have eight domain extensions (besides ‘.in’ that already exists). India will also be the first to have a domain extension in Urdu, ahead of Pakistan, whose official language is Urdu.
N Ravi Shankar, joint secretary at the Department of Information Technology, said the government had been trying to get the allotments for six months. ICANN rarely allots more than one domain extension to a country, Shankar said.
The government, he said, has applied for similar allotments in other regional languages such as Malayalam, Marathi and Kannada. “We are likely to get them in the coming months.”
An internet user who is not an English-literate can now type the URL (Uniform Resource Locator), the global address of documents or resources on the World Wide Web, in any of the regional languages. For example, the Hindi edition of Yahoo can have ØæãêU.ÖæÚUÌ as its URL.
The domain names will be sold by the National Internet Exchange of India — the agency which has been allocating the domain ‘.in’. “It will be sold on first-come-first-serve basis,” Shankar said.
Experts say companies will try to race to book their names under all seven languages to prevent the misuse of their names and trademarks.