Date of this Version
Library Philosophy and Practice 2012
India is a multilingual country and the second most populated country on earth There are a quite a number of languages spoken in India. Some of these languages are accepted nationally while others are accepted as dialects of that particular region. The Indian languages belong to four language families namely Indo-European, Dravidian, Austroasiatic (Austric) and Sino-Tibetan. Majority of India's population are using Indo-European and Dravidian languages. The former are spoken mainly in northern and central regions and the latter in southern India. India has 22 officially recognised languages. But around 33 different languages and 2000 dialects have been identified in India. Hindi, in the Devanagari script is the official language of the Federal government of India. English is an associate official language.
The last decade witnessed the proliferation of personal computers in the Indian subcontinent. Creating documents in Indian languages has become easier than ever before, and in many cases, desktop publishing has replaced the traditional press. Electronic publications can be broadly divided into two categories, offline and online. Online Documents: CD-ROMs with Indian language content, covering subjects like music and the arts, mythol- ogy, traditional medicine, etc. are becoming increasingly popular. In addition, the Government of India has set up four mega-centers for creating Digital Libraries of primarily literary material. This huge collection of digitized documents is gradually being uploaded to the Web. One of the possible frameworks for organizing this collection is pro-vided by the Greenstone digital library package2, available in a wide range of Indian languages. The central and state governments of India are also promoting the use of the vernacular for social work. For example, the proceedings of the Indian Parliament are available as multilingual documents. Thus, there is a growing archive of social documents written in native languages. There are about 60 online daily news publications, and other online IL data sources like blogs, magazines, etc. on the Web. Recently, the Government of India has launched a mega digital library initiative; a country-wide cross-lingual information access consortium has also been established. The need for effective information access methods for Indian languages is therefore unquestionable.