New Delhi, Sept. 10: If Dayanidhi Maran has his way, every Indian netizen ' company or individual ' will carry a suffix in his Internet address that will proudly identify him as an Indian.
Most countries have dotcom extensions that easily identify the Internet address: when the exercise to come up with new domain names began more than three years ago, India was allotted a 'dot.in' suffix. But very few use it, preferring the dot.com suffix ' either because they had already registered themselves on the Net long before the new domain names came along or because they were loath to brand themselves Indian.
Maran, the communications minister, isn't a card-carrying activist of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch. It is plain business sense that is driving the new Brand India campaign to persuade Net users ' especially companies ' to use the dot.in suffix.
Says Paul Twomey, the president and chief executive officer of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN): 'Many companies in Europe and parts of East Asia that look for business opportunities in India tend to type the country code. They may themselves have dot.com addresses but they presume that software companies based in India will be available at a dot.in address. As a result, there is a 95 per cent chance that Indian companies may lose out since they will not show up in a Google search.'
So, Maran is seeking the help of ICANN and Twomey to launch a special programme by the year-end to prepare for a switchover to new Internet addresses. This means, for instance, that companies like Infosys will be persuaded to switch over to Infosys.in from Infosys.com.
But Indian companies may not be too keen to switch over to a dot.in address. 'As an Indian, I would certainly go for a dot.in address. But since we have already established a dot.com address and it has an international connectivity and visibility, we would have to examine it as and when the issue comes up,' says Sunil Bharti Mittal, the chairman and managing director of the Bharti Group.
Kiran Karnik, the chairman of Nasscom (the industry association), says: 'In principle, dot.in addresses should be embraced. However, it will be difficult for the existing companies to do it. Many would find it difficult to implement it. But new companies that are registering their domain names should be encouraged to take a dot.in address.'
Once the address is written on an envelope or a postcard and dropped in a post box, not many of us bother to know how the postal department identifies it and sends it to the correct address. That is the same approach that most of us have when we type the address on the Internet. Like the postal department, ICANN ' the non-profit corporation that has the responsibility of allotting Internet protocol (IP) addresses ' does the job for us to identify the address we have just typed on the World Wide Web.
Twomey says: 'India's potential role as a leader of the Internet's future is clear. We (ICANN and Maran) have agreed to develop joint strategies that will form the basis of an initiative that the minister plans to unveil by the year-end.'
He was unwilling to share areas in which ICANN will work with the communications and IT ministry, but indicated that it will revolve around the e-governance programme.
'We are very happy to be involved in the process and extend our expertise with the government,' says Twomey.
Ram Mohan, the vice-president of business operations and chief technology officer of Afilias Ltd, one of the leading registry service providers of dot.Info, dot.ORG and several other country codes, says: 'About a decade back and even now if you are in India, the tendency is to go for made-in-US products. But during the last few years, the respect earned by Indian software companies has translated into potential customers looking for dot.in addresses.
'It automatically means you are associated with the best of the best. You don't get this if you have a dot.com address.'