Regional languages to be mandatory in mobiles

As the government pushes to provide governance through mobile phones, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has mandated smartphone manufacturers to ensure all devices support Hindi and at least one local language.

Already, there have been two rounds of discussions on the matter between the ministry and handset makers. One more round of discussion is planned soon as the manufacturers have raised some concerns.

“We have already started talking to the phone companies. We had two rounds of discussions now and they have asked for a little bit of time. What we are saying is, there should be at least three languages but we are still firming up because they pointed out some difficulties and issues and we are looking at that,” said Electronics and IT secretary Aruna Sundararajan.

The central and state governments have stepped up measures to provide governance to citizen services through mobile phones. But, the single biggest challenge has been vernacular language support – critical to reach services to people in smaller towns and rural areas.

“Mobile governance without India language content won’t happen,” said Sundararajan. According to her, e-governance initiatives will reach people only if they are in local languages.

Earlier this year, a top Department of Telecom official had said the government was working on regulations to make it mandatory for mobile phones to support Hindi and at least one regional language.

The regulations were scheduled to come in four or five months, but got delayed as handset manufacturers raised some difficulties over the matter. The move by the government to make local language support a must in mobile phones is aimed at making users communicate in local languages and access government services such has e-payment through mobile phones.