In our country too the use of internet has been limited as a vast majority of the population is not English literate. The need for Urdu websites seemed both a dream and a distant possibility. But it is no more the case.
The internet has been a provider of information, entertainment, virtual market, etc. for a relatively long time now. But its use has been limited in the non-English speaking world.
Now you would be able to go to the websites without the need to remember complex website names or the spellings in English. You would be able to type the domain URL in Urdu with all the text and links of the site also available in Urdu. This is a great news for majority of our population that are more comfortable with Urdu texts rather than the English ones.
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the central institute that governs the web-based administration and assigns the unique URL to each website, has recently launched a test site which has its domain name, text and links all in Urdu. However, the site also has a URL address in English and contains the links for its text’s English translation.
ICANN launched the wiki pages with the domain name ‘example.test’. The wikis allow Internet users to establish their own sub pages with their own names in their own language. One suggestion is: example.test/yourname. The script used for enabling the Urdu text is the same as that used for creating the Persian text. But any IDN TLDs (top level domains) that subsequently appear in ordinary production will be based on the scripts chosen by their prospective operators.
The purpose of the site is to obtain feedback from the general users and to encourage suggestions for its overall improvement so that in future, Urdu websites meet their users’ needs. The site requires feedback from its visitors regarding the domain URL’s compatibility with user’s browsers and also requests users to test email addresses based on the Urdu name of the site. The website contains links for users’ suggestions and for editing any of the contents of the website that users may find appropriate.
All this bodes are well for the widespread use of internet and websites by a vast majority of people of our country who are not English literate. People are more comfortable with Urdu websites and hence the Urdu websites consequently would increase the internet users. The obvious advantages of use of internet and the availability of the necessary information in Urdu would help the people and the country in general.
"Each new language made available means more users from around the world will be more naturally able to share their experiences as we test the technical impact of IDNs," said Tina Dam, Director, ICANN’s IDN Programme. Developing the Urdu websites will also be an incentive for website developers and more and more websites will be created as the usage of such sites increases. Such websites would be an incentive for advertisers too, to advertise their products on the widely used Urdu websites. And obviously this suggests development of the field of e-commerce with its various models. The online shopping from sites would increase with time.
The organisations would be able to develop web-based models for their employees and customers; and even the government departments would be better able to automate the provision of services by developing their various websites. Filing of various forms, depositing utility bills, getting necessary information on procedures and general matters would be able to browse or perform by the development of Urdu websites for government departments. The more usage of internet would also lead to more internet service providers coming in the market with improvements in provisions of internet and internet related services.
Hence the development of Urdu websites in the near future would create many opportunities and benefits not only for individuals but also for the website developers, business organisations as well as for the government. In the long term the economy would benefit from such sites and the provision of services from the government departments would also improve.