Move over Windows and Android! For a majority of non-English speaking Indians, a team of Indian developers have designed an operating system (OS) that runs on cloud and works in Indian vernacular languages.

The system is expected to give fillip to the development of digital applications for non-English speaking users.

“The OS runs on cloud and what makes it unique is its application that it is compatible with other Operating Systems also. Even users of computing devices such as mobile phones and laptops, which do not have language support, can use this application in any of the 22 Indian languages,” said its developers, Phani Bhushan, an IIT-Kharagpur graduate and Gopal Pradhan, an alumnus of Government Engineering College, Bhubaneswar, on Thursday.

“The OS has a potential to include the non-English speaking population of the country into the digital revolution,” Mukesh Mathur, a scientist with Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council, Department of Science & Technology (DST).

Because of the language barrier, a large percentage of Indian population has found it difficult to be included in the digital revolution and computer literacy in India was just 6.5% in 2012. Statistics show that even among the 867 million mobile phone users in the country, nearly 600 million cannot use its applications due to the language barrier as they do not understand English.

“They use their mobile phones only for voice call and want applications in their own language,” Bhushan said and claimed that their computing platform will enable programme developers to develop a common vernacular application and deliver them on any computing device such as mobile phone, personal computer or tablet.

He said vernacular applications for computers and mobile phones were not available because the available technology does not allow a developer to create vernacular applications. “It provides necessary widgets/libraries which are required to develop vernacular applications that can be accessed from any mobile/PC irrespective of their OS and language support. This will enable users to consume vernacular apps from their existing devices,” he said.

“This product has the potential to resolve many government problems, including those being faced in the implementation of the Unique Identity project,” Padmaja Ruparel of Indian Angel Network and one of the jury members, said.

(This article was published on October 17, 2013)