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India’s Indigenous Languages Drive Wikipedia’s Growth

by Prasad Krishna last modified Aug 09, 2013 09:58 AM
Despite accommodating the world’s second largest English-speaking population behind the United States, it is India’s indigenous language speakers that are creating and consuming the content that is driving Wikipedia’s growth on the subcontinent.

Note: We have published only portions where CIS has been mentioned and T. Vishnu Vardhan, Programme Director, Access to Knowledge  has been quoted. The complete post by Mahesh Sharma was published in TechCrunch on August 6, 2013, you can read it here.


The Wikimedia Foundation last year issued a $40,000 $440,000 grant to the Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), which, along with the local Wikimedia chapter, has trained almost 2,500 Indians how to edit and create content in their local languages.

Last September, CIS targeted ten tongues — Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi and Telugu — and started working with India’s Wikimedia chapter, responsible for coordinating the local volunteer efforts, to boost the amount of local language content being created on a range of websites including, Wikipedia, Wiktionary, and WikiCommons.

CIS said that between September 2012 and April 2013 the number of page views increased by almost four million.

While the program has had an impact, director T. Vishnu Vardhan admitted there were some ominous findings. After CIS stopped supporting the Assamese Wikipedia in January 2013, the 20 active editors all but left the site.

“The decline over the last three months also alerts us to the possibility of building dependencies on the program, which is a concern that we need to address going forward,” Vishnu said. ”We need to ensure this community and new people are sustained, that we engage them keep and them interested by showing them the excitement of being part of open knowledge building.”

Ultimately, Vardhan hopes this capacity building exercise will spark a self-fulfilling cycle of local Wikipedia content production and consumption. These reach of these tools is growing as last month, mobile operator Aircel and Wikimedia India announced that subscribers could freely access m.wikipedia.org, available in 19 Indian languages, from their mobile phones

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