In an attempt to further democratise information, the Indian Government has announced the launch of an online regional information guide, Vikaspedia, meant for social sectors. The launch also witnessed the introduction of new apps that will help contributors in generating regional content over the Internet.
Vikaspedia has been developed as part of the India Development Gateway initiative of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology . The multilingual portal is developed as a single-window access to information, products and services, with specific objective of reaching the ‘un-reached’ communities of India.
Vikaspedia seeks to bridge the gap between the poor and development, by providing links to government, civil society groups / NGOs and private institutions. The ultimate goal is to create a service-oriented, people-friendly and demystified Information Technology (ICT) for development in service of communities through country-wide collaborations.
Implemented by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Hyderabad; Vikaspedia at present can be accessed in four regional Indian languages (Hindi, Asamia, Marathi and Telugu) including English. There is a plan to make it accessible in all 22 Indian languages moving forward, informed Department of Electronics and Information Technology (Deity) Joint Secretary, Rajendra Kumar.
Right now the portal has information categorized under agriculture, health, education, social welfare, energy and e-governance. If one clicks on any of the category, the portal provides further information like I was provided with a detailed list of information related to women health, child health, policies and schemes, nutrition to name a few when I clicked on health category.
While the portal is providing information it is also inviting users to be an active contributor to the site apart from reading it. In other words it is attempting to implement the model of Wikipedia.
The site has created a social presence too and is trying to drive traffic to the portal. The interesting bit is that regional portals have their regional pages. For example the Hindi portal has a Hindi Facebook page which is trying to converse in Hindi.
The move is surely a required and encouraging one. Going ahead the care takers of the portal should also look at providing content in different formats and consumable on different devices. Generating video content could be one of the ways that Vikaspedia can work aggressively on. In fact the portal has already created a YouTube presence for all languages. Besides, mobile compatibility of Vikaspedia could add to its acceptance.