Research for Resurgence Foundation (RFRF), a wing of the RSS’s Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal, has launched its own local language email domain as the first step to create several Indian-centric technological products, including an Indian search engine. The emails will be stored in the RFRF’s data centre in Nagpur.
“We are thinking about a total Bharatiya Internet. Not only with email ID, but search engine, then Bharatiya domain name, websites, content, and everything. That is the plan we are working on,” Mukul Kanitkar, the national organising secretary of BSM and trustee of RFRF, said.
“The security and privacy angle is also there. But that is a larger issue because we are using hardware from outside. That indigenisation will take a lot of time. Only then will it be properly secure. If you are using a Cisco router and a Chinese connector, you cannot be sure that your data is private,” he said.
Kantikar, whose brainchild the plan is, said RFRF is working with startups for Indian-made wires and chips. It will then look to encourage routers and connectors manufactured in India.
The email service was launched at an RFRF event at Vigyan Bhavan Saturday. The first user initiated on the platform was Minister of Human Resource and Development Prakash Javadekar.
To create the local language search engine, “the next step” for RFRF’s Indian-made technological products, the organisation is researching an algorithm that will promote “indigenous content”.
“Today when you go to Wikipedia and search for something, first you get the Western thing about that, and then our own content. Agar aap Chhattisgarh ke kisi tribe ki jaankaari chahte hain, the first references will be western references… There is nothing wrong in that. But if there are able to do it in Gondi, they will be able to get their own references,” Kantikar said.
On reports that Google will build a search engine for China, Kantikar said commercial motives will ensure that the same happens for India.
A source close to the developments said the RFRF search engine is still a year or two away from fruition.
Kantikar expressed hope that these steps will “break the psychological barrier” that leads the majority of Indians to believe that they need to know English to use the Internet. He said he aimed to change Indian internet from mostly video entertainment to education.
The RFRF began two years ago to institutionalise the research arm of the BSM, after its work expanded greatly. “And it has the potential of going farther than the parent organisation. We created a foundation so that it will have its own autonomy and its own way of working,” Kantikar said.
Kantikar approached Data Xgen Technologies (P) Ltd, the first linguistics email platform in India, around a year ago after learning about the email client’s local language capabilities. RFRF and XGen signed an MoU last month. XGen’s CEO and founder Ajay Data said RFRF will pay XGen “a few lakh rupees” for its services, and will increase payment as its services increase.
“Why ‘Made in India’ is important is because India must own those technologies from an intellectual property perspective and host data in India so it is available to the Indian government when they need to see it,” Data said.
The Pata.bharat domain will be for public use in seven Indian scripts which correspond to 14 Indian languages, and will be pushed to the partner universities of RFRF. The available scripts are Bangla, Gujarati, Punjabi, Telugu, Hindi, English, Tamil, and Urdu.
The emails will initially be housed on XGen servers in Jaipur, and will be transferred to RFRF’s Nagpur servers in the coming months. Data suggested that the name could be Pata.Bharat, which XGen already owned.
The email service will provide 1GB to every email account via a iOS and Android free mobile app, Pata Bharat, or via web access at mail.pata.bharat in all available Indian languages and at mail.patabharat.com in English. Users will need to authenticate their account via a mobile phone number and an OTP. The web access is enabled via mobile linkage rather than a username or password.