Localisation: Addressing Issues of Access to Technology

Since the value of e-Government gets limited by the disparities in access to ICTs and digital    literacy, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) has placed special emphasis on the concept of e-Inclusion (UN Readiness Report 2005: From e-Government to e-Inclusion). This demonstrates a shift from a sole technology focus to a focus on equity in economic, educational, social and cultural opportunities. Localisation, or the adaptation of softwares for non-native environments, is the way forward in achieving the goal of e-Inclusion. Effective e-Government strategies need to emphasise content in the native and local languages.

Importance of localisation is particularly important for India, where no single vernacular  language is spoken by a majority. The demand for technical and cultural localisation of softwares is likely to increase with the penetration of computers to population where it is now non-existent and rare. With the growth of middle classes and the increase in the purchasing power of citizens in the developing countries, computer would spread to even larger number of people in these countries.

Localisation, therefore, is likely to remain a growth industry. Governments and many  private players have embarked on the projects of localising languages for their applications in several developing countries. In India, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and Department of Offi cials Languages, Government of India, have been making localisation efforts with the ministries and departments. Bridging the language barrier is an opportunity as well as a challenge for both government and private sectors. This edition of egov magazine is woven around the theme of localisation, its importance in e-Governance, issues in localising softwares, the business case for localisation, and so forth, and has brought forth both government and private sector perspectives.

The localisation efforts will go a long way in bringing citizens closer to the government. This was one of the objectives of the recently concluded eINDIA2008 conference, which provided a platform for all stakeholders – policymakers, practitioners, industry leaders, academicians to work towards realising a technology enabled knowledge society. This issue of egov magazine includes a special report on the egovINDIA2008 and mServe INDIA 2008 conference. Both these conferences were the seminal tracks of the annual eINDIA2008 event organised by CSDMS in association with several government ministries.

Hope you would enjoy reading this edition of egov magazine.