Today, India speaks at least 780 different languages. More than 74% of India’s 1.2 billion+ population are literate. Contrary to popular perception, just about 11% of Indian population speaks some level of English language & barely 4% has fluency enough to read a full page of English text.
As the smartphone spreads rapidly across India, there are at least 275 million Indians (today in 2017) who don’t speak English but are literate and now have access to the internet. This creates a unique opportunity to create meaningful localized content for the 74%+ who are literate amongst them. Even though we have 780 languages, more than 98% have fluency in one of the top 11 scripts written in India. According to the census, the mother-tongue breakup is as follows – Devanagari 47% (Hindi, Maithali, Urdu etc), Eastern Nagari (Siddham-Bengali) 8%, Nagari (Modi/Marathi) 7%, Telugu 7%, Tamil 6%, Nagari (Gujarati) 5%, Kannada 4%, Malayalam 3%, Odiya 3%, Gurmukhi 3%, Assamese 2% and Kashmiri Persio-Arabic 1%. One thing which unites all of these Indian scripts is that they are uniquely arranged on the same phonetic 56 character Varna-Mala, regardless of their language family ( Indo-European, Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman).This makes them distinct from the English language's Roman script. The usage of a 26 character Roman script to express a 56 character Varna-Mala script is an avoidable loss of knowledge.
Prarang aims to fill this gap for the localized content by selecting the largest 300 towns of India, on the basis of the above, national level script (written language) ratio estimated by the census. The list is as follows –