Welcome the Indian Internet, in your mother tongue

The three-decade-old Internet, commonly referred to as Web2.0 as we know it today, is on the cusp of another disruption. This ‘New Internet’ is known as the dWeb or decentralised Web or Web3.0. It generally refers to the next generation of the world wide web, supposed to take over from Web2.0, which is more centralised and focused on user-created content.

Gurugram-based bootstrapped start-up Agaamin Technologies wants to play its part in this Web3.0 revolution. The company, which went live at the dawn of the New Year, is offering vernacular smart names, which can be used in lieu of the dotcom (.com) or dotin (.in), as the Devanagari equivalent of dotbha (.bha) — the first alphabet of the word Bharat.

To understand the importance of smart names, it is essential to provide some background on how the internet works. One of the primary pillars on which the Internet rests is its ‘namespace’. In the existing internet, the root of the namespace is managed by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and is built on Top Level Domains (TLDs) such as “.com, .org, .in,” etc.

The names created on these TLDs are used as names for websites. For instance, in the name “google.com”, the phrase ‘google’ is the name and ‘.com’ is the TLD. However, Agaamin believes that this technology is now becoming outdated and severely limited for the kind of use cases dWeb demands.

This is because the dWeb is structurally different from the legacy Internet and consists of hundreds of protocols in silos, each of them with its own eco-system of decentralised apps and services. Put simply, in Web 2.0 your digital IDs were given to you by centralised entities like Google and Facebook as user names which then you also used to log into other apps. However, in the dWeb your user ID belongs to you and is controlled by you. And this means unlike the current namespace that is relevant only to website owners, in the dWeb, namespace is relevant to everyone.

We spoke to the founder of Agaamin, Sajan Nair, on the need of an ‘Indian internet’ and the potential of dWeb in the digital ecosystem.

What is the need of ‘smart names’? What are some of the problems associated with existing namespaces?

Sajan Nair: The existing namespace essentially is obsolete when it comes to the needs of dWeb. These names can only be used for emails and naming websites. Also, they mostly consist of Latin alphabets so it is an impediment to those who don’t know Latin based languages such as English. While there are some regional scripted TLDs like the full word “Bharat” in various vernacular languages which are part of the ICANN system however, the tech is increasingly obsolete.

Users will need one unique identity that will work across the dWeb. It can be the name for your avatar in the metaverse, your wallet id, your website name, your email id and so on. The fact that it is a programmable name ensures that the use cases are only limited by human imagination.

What kind of namespaces can users buy?

Sajan Nair: We are introducing the first alphabet of the word “Bharat” in various Indian scripts. We will start with the Devanagri version of the alphabet with the sound – “bha” for Bharat. This will work for all languages that use this script such as Hindi, Marathi, Bhojpuri and so on…. We will launch the Bengali version in March , Malayalam and Punjabi in April, and the other languages in subsequent months. So people would be able to use names in their own mother tongue.

How and why did you come up with this idea?

Sajan Nair: I noticed how a lot of the blue-collar workers were still left out of the fintech revolution. While many of them had smartphones, they used Internet services to the bare minimum and seemed intimated by sending money via the phone. My maid would use Whatsapp via audio messages instead of typing anything. I could not help but wonder how it must feel to have to constantly interpret actionable information from something so essential to daily life such as the internet.

“Indian Internet” is built on a decentralised and open-source protocol called Handshake. It looks to create a globally free and open namespace. So as a system there is just but one global network. The “Indian internet” is something that refers to the possibility of an eco-system that can now develop in our vernacular languages.

This will ensure all of our diverse cultures find expression. Imagine 100s of vernacular videos streaming, media, micro blogging, social networking and content all in our own languages. Together with other projects like award winning “Hindawi” (supports programming in Indic languages) , Sphere ( Bangalore based Start-up into decentralised hosting) and Agaamin creating the vernacular naming infrastructure the dream of “Indian internet” can finally happen.

Will decentralised web be more privacy focused?

Sajan Nair: Privacy Yes. Anonymity No. The beauty of Handshake as a technology is that it sets you free of centralised control, But you can’t hide behind it. People will know the identity of the individual. Handshake is also inclusive. Handshake supports all vernacular languages, Emojis, numbers, symbols, signs, hieroglyphics and even braille.

And the best part of it is that even though Handshake is built on a blockchain the average user does not have to know anything about blockchain technology or cryptocurrency to use smartnames.

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