What’s the first result you find when you Google something? More often than not, it’s Wikipedia. It caught on in 2002, and from there it has become the textbook definition of the success of a collaborative enterprise, revolutionising the way we access knowledge. (It also greatly increased the popularity of the wiki concept)
To see how popular Wikipedia is in local Indian Languages, checkout http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/List_of_Wikipedias which lists out all the languages you can read Wikipedia in.
Below is a table with stats on how many Wikipedia articles are available in Indian languages.
Hindi (हिन्दी) – hi – 53,246 articles
Telugu (తెలుగు) – te – 44,335 articles
Marathi (मराठी) – mr – 26,582 articles
Bishnupriya Manipuri (বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী) – bpy – 24,738 articles
Bengali (বাংলা) – bn – 21,023 articles
Tamil (தமிழ்) – ta – 20,979 articles
Gujarati (ગુજરાતી) – gu – 12,627 articles
Urdu (اردو) – ur – 12,547 articles
Malayalam (മലയാളം) – ml – 11,883 articles
Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ) – kn – 7,850 articles
Sanskrit (संस्कृतम्) – sa – 3,914 articles
Divehi (ދިވެހިބަސް) – dv – 3,358 articles
Nepali (नेपाली) – ne – 3,048 articles
Western Punjabi (پنجابی) – pnb – 2,927 articles
Sinhalese (සිංහල) – si – 2,572 articles
Bihari (भोजपुरी) – bh – 2,481 articles
Pali (पालि) – pi – 2,316 articles
Fiji Hindi – hif – 1,544 articles
Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ) – pa – 1,507 articles
Oriya (ଓଡ଼ିଆ) – or – 553 articles
Romani (रोमानी) – rmy – 489 articles
Kashmiri (कश्मीरी / كشميري) – ks – 375 articles
Sindhi (سنڌي، सिनधि) – sd – 349 articles
Assamese (অসমীয়া) – as – 263 articles
Of course, none can deny that this pales in comparison to the English Wikpedia’s 3 million and growing number, but it’s a start. Wikipedia also works as an effective tool for spreading knowledge in local languages. The Hindu ran a recent article on Local Wikipedias. Here’s the link.
Given the popularity of Wikipedia and the number of English Speaking Internet users in India (a number which is growing rapidly), Wikimedia Corporation (parent company) is surprised why Wikipedia’s penetration is not higher in India.
“Currently, Wikimedia is under-penetrated in India despite the fact that a majority of India’s online population speaks English and there is a presence of Wikipedias in languages prominently spoken in India,”said the Wikimedia Foundation, in its strategic review aimed at growing the foundation’s footprint over the next five years.
India has 80 million users today, with a growth rate of 20%. Though that’s barely 10% of the population, that number is sure to have close to 100% literacy with adequate knowledge in English. (This eliminates the language barrier).
With that goal in mind, Wikipedia plans to launch an Indian chapter. The organization is considering a Wikipedia.in, in an effort to tap into the Indian diaspora and actively involve them as contributors. This will strengthen it’s presence in South East Asia as a whole. A few other nations already have their own local chapters.
How would that help? More interaction with the Indian mindset. More contributions relevant to India. More Indians using Wikipedia, easing access to information. This move will probably also increase the number and reliability of articles which are very very India specific. Also the number of articles in the regional languages is sure to increase.
On a tangent, here’s an interesting article on Wikipedia, it’s reliablity and a few comparisons with other encyclopaedias (Source : Chris Anderson’s Long Tail).