webduniaNaidunia is one of the oldest Hindi newspapers of India, appreciated and respected for its content and values. Recently the newspaper completed 60 years of its existence and launched few initiatives including proposed editions for Chattisgarh and other states. But the most significant of the initiatives is the relaunch of their popular web portal Webdunia dot com in 9 Indian languages and that too in Unicode. The group has been a pioneer in bringing Hindi and other Indian languages on the net but they always had relied on their proprietary font. The site looked good and catered to a large base of people who still relied on older computers that couldn’t decipher Unicode, but it still remained largely invisible to the search engines. In its new avatar the new Webdunia has indeed crossed all barriers in reaching out to a much wider audience.

Webdunia.com has been launched, apart from Hindi, in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Marathi and Bangla. There is a search facility in each language and what’s more, the company has plans to enhance this to a full blown internet search engine. The Portal now sports a much improved picture gallery, greetings and email section apart from the regular channels covering a variety of subjects. My suggestions would be to add a “rediff.com” like commenting feature to encourage discussion on each news item, with facility to directly type in relevant language, a blog from the reporters of the newspaper similar to “ibnlive.com” and a magazine look for their literature section akin the “BBC Hindi patrika”. Of course I know they would do better not to copy others but these are some of the features that are probably a must for an interactive web.

Looking at the portal’s new incredible look and even the company website you can just sense the new zest and ambition. At the time when the Indian language newspapers are increasingly facing challenge from their English counterpart and have been forced to dilute the purity of the language, irking the language lovers, this is a fresh breeze of change. And when it comes from the people who have always worked towards enriching the language without compromising on values, you are assured of a committed growth of usage of Indian languages on the internet. Keep up the good work guys!