In the Bureaucracy Domain: '.IN' Domain Name
What's in a name? The Indian Government is planning to promote the '.in' domain name for businesses and plans to offer discounts as a way of doing this. Hopefully, this should not turn into rules that prefer businesses with '.in' domains and discriminate against those that use other domain names.
Economic Times asks whether your website have a domain name or address ending with '.in'? If not the government soon plans to make you feel guilty by way of an advertising campaign that will play on the national sentiments. With an aim to promote the .in domain name, which is India's official website extension - but continues to be in the shadows of the more popular .com domain name - the ministry of electronics and IT (MEIT) is planning a massive advertising campaign aimed at companies, individuals and startups.
Rajiv Bansal, joint secretary in MEIT, said the campaign should be ready for rollout in a month or so and will play on the people's nationalist sentiments to nudge them to host their website on the.in domain name. "Even existing websites which are on .com or other domains can be hosted on.in which can then be routed back," he told ET. Bansal said the government's Digital India, Make in India and Start-up India campaigns have been successful in building a momentum in the country.
"There is a wave, and we want to capitalise on it," he said. According to a top government official, MEIT has set a target to increase the number of '.in' domain names to 3 million by March next year, up from 2 million now. Bansal said the ministry plans special tie-ups with the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) and the ministry of small and medium enterprises (MSME) to offer discounts to startups or new businesses registering with them for .in domain name. "The proposal includes offering some kind of a discount - perhaps a new domain registration for Rs 150 or Rs 200 - to attract new businesses," Bansal said.
Even now, websites of MCA and MSME — where most entrepreneurs wishing to start a new business land up — carry links to aid registrations for .in domain name. MEIT is in talks with these ministries to deepen this partnership. Also, NIXI (National Internet Exchange of India), which manages the .in registry, plans to give the '.bharat' domain for Hindi website extension complementary with the .in domain to popularise its use, just like the European Union giving local language domain names along with the '.eu' domain name. "As a promotional scheme, NIXI will be offering the '.bharat' domain name in Hindi complementary to select businesses or categories from this month," said Bansal who is also the CEO of NIXI, a not-for-profit company set up in 2003 to improve Internet access in India.
It may target businesses that have wide reach and operate online in English and Hindi, for example, newspapers or companies that host websites in Hindi. Last year, NIXI had run an advertisement campaign with 22-24 seconds advertisements targeted at small and medium businessmen and entrepreneurs. The ads featured a 'chikankari' trader from Lucknow, a banana chips manufacturer from Kerala, a classical dance teacher, and a traditional Channapatna toy seller who have managed to get global demand and presence for their local brands. Aim of the campaign was to popularise use of the '.in' domain name, which "creates and builds a distinct Indian identity for brands, companies and individuals in the cyberspace". According to NIXI, the total number of .in domains are 2.1 million. As per technology survey website W3Techs.com, '.in' is currently used by 1.4 per cent websites worldwide while the most used is '.com' (49 per cent), followed by '.ru' (5.2 per cent) and '.net' (4.6 per cent).
One of the reasons why internationalised domain names (IDNs) or local language domain names have been slow to take off is that the only local language speakers do not have access to the Internet in India. The first quarter of 2016 closed with a base of approximately 326.4 million domain name registrations across top-level domains such as '.com', '.edu', '.info', an increase of 3.8 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the 'Domain Name Industry Brief ' report by Verisign.