India has just 2.75 million developers versus 3.5 million in the USA(Source: ComputerWorld). In the context of the population base, this is a minuscule figure, especially for a country that functions as an IT hub globally. Even though the number is said to increase, it should be meaningful. Why is it crucial to have more developers? (In the Indian context, let’s look at mobile app developers) Because they create a vibrant mobile ecosystem with homegrown applications that are the answers to the local needs of the population.
For example, China has nearly 600 million mobile internet users. It has 200 app stores apart from Google Play, including Tencent’s My App and Baidu’s Mobile Assistant. Local apps are the top 10 apps on the App Stores (such as Alipay, WeChat, and QQ). The locally developed apps like WeChat are not just clones of their Western counterparts but cater to local needs. For example, using WeChat, you can pay government bills, book a cab and much more. It is even a distribution channel to promote new apps. This type of thinking is culturally reflective of the unique way the Chinese use chat apps and the mobile internet.
So app development is something we want to #MakeInIndia. But hang on, that’s not enough. Anant Computing proposes that we should boost the ranks of the developers in our country by introducing a never-before functionality – coding in your mother tongues. Vernacular language content is a prime initiative to grow India’s mobile internet base. Have you ever wondered why every Indian aspires to own a TV set and cable subscription but not a smartphone? Mobile phone subscriptions crossed 1 billion in 2016. More than 70% of Indian households have television sets, and nearly 68% have a cable or DTH subscription. Yet, barely 300 million Indians are online – a paltry 25% of the population. A data connection is not unaffordable to someone who pays for voice and subscribes to TV channels. The factual answer is that an average Indian is not online because they do not see the relevance of the internet in their lives. A large part of the reason for the internet not being relevant is that there is not enough vernacular content. India has the highest daily TV viewing time in the Asia Pacific, at 3 hours 16 minutes (compared to the Asia Pac average of 2 hours, 32 minutes). Also, India has more than 826 channels across various genres, covering all parts of India. There is enough content, for everyone, in every language. So almost every Indian household invests in a TV set once they can afford it, despite the heavy down payment and running cost of a cable subscription. When there is more user-relevant content, more people will come online, which has been the story in China, Korea, Japan – every Asian market except India. Silent but constant, the Language Divide in online content excludes more than 1 billion Indians from being part of Digital India. Language in Coding (LICO) as a means to break the Language Divide LICO (Languages in Coding) is a first-of-its-kind initiative that allows anyone to code a mobile application in their native vernacular language. No formal programming experience is required or any prerequisite of English. LICO uses a platform designed by Anant Computing that simplifies the task of app creation. Use readymade templates, and drag and drop to create any app you wish! All instructions and commands are available in vernacular languages to aid non-English users. This platform eventually would be accessible in all 21 official Indian languages. LICO puts content and app creation in the hands of people who are not part of the mobile revolution. And it gives the power to bring in millions more people who are not a part of this superset. You would have heard of initiatives like the Make in India and Skill India movements which intend to boost the local economy. LICO naturally meshes with these initiatives as a tangible step that helps to take them forward.