NET.COLUMNS: 10 Websites India Needs

The Internet has spawned hundreds of Indian websites. Are there still
opportunities for webmasters to create innovative sites and generate a
following — and money? Yes, and here are 10 ideas. India needs sites
tailored to a domestic audience: sites which are compelling and
require a person to login often. (If such sites do exist, then you are
welcome to write to
and let us know.)

1. An Indian CNN

Most Indian newspapers and magazines which take their produce and put
it on the web, with few updates other than the frequency of print
publications. Notable exceptions:
, which updates news regularly but whose presentation can
do with substantial improvement,
India Today, which gives you
“tomorrow’s paper tonight” with its News Today briefs, and the
. What is needed is an Indian CNN: where one can check
out the top stories at any point of time. On TV, Business India’s TVI
provides headlines on the hour.

2. A khoj for People

Looking for long-lost friends? There are international sites, like
four11 and
Whowhere. We need one for
Indians. Wouldn’t you like to know where the person who shared a bench
with you in the seventh standard is now? (If you wouldn’t, then go to
point 3!) Many colleges have started alumni lists, but a comprehensive
one for all Indians on the Net is needed.

3. The Great Indian Films Database

After Cricket, Films is the other
unifying factor in the country. How about a site where I can query to
my heart’s content? Stories of movies, filmographies of actors and
actresses, searchable list of songs…all in one site.

4. Games

There are many Games sites on the Net. We need a few Indianised
versions. I don’t see many Indians going to
Riddler and spending time. But, if
we can come up with games which we grew up with and which fit in the
Indian context, then perhaps the audience will come. Multi-player
games across the Indian Net…now that would be fun!

5. Free email

Who needs an Indian Hotmail? And
there’s also Yahoo Mail and
Excite Mail. The answer:
advertisers. Imagine if there was a way you could reach 50,000 Indian
Internet users. Free email with an Indian touch and ads definitely has
a future.

6. Auction

It is the ultimate fantasy. We as buyers go and say, “this is what we
want to buy.” Sellers bid for the sale. We need an Indian version of
Onsale. Go to the Net, post what
you have to sell, and search for what you want to buy. A marketplace
without any geographical barriers. Airlines could then offer their
unsold tickets at rock-bottom prices (some money is better than none),
hotels and theatres could do the same. So, customers find great deals
and sellers find buyers for their unsold inventory . Its a win-win
situation and definitely a compelling reason to get on to the Net.

7. The Indian Amazon

Amazon offers 2.5 million titles
from all over the world. Buying Indian books (albeit, a limited
number) from Amazon will saddle you with you a huge shipping
charge. Searching for Indian books is not easy. Buying them is harder
still. How about we get some Indian bookshops and publishers online?
With excerpts from books, comments from authors, and so on. We need
the local bookstores online so that books can be delivered quickly
(how about overnight?) and inexpensively.

8. Community – Free Home Pages

There are many places to get Free Home Pages:
Geocities and
Tripod, to name two. Again,
we need Indian neighbourhoods. Plenty of Indians and small
businesses have set up shop in the internal websites. Indian
environs will probably do more for business and traffic.

9. City Services

What’s on in your city? Movies, Restaurants, Exhibitions, Events? No,
you cannot find this today on the Net. We need a mix of the Daily
Engagements Column in the local newspaper and the Yellow Pages online
for every city. This is a precursor to item 10, the commerce
enabling. You want to dine out, go to the Net, figure out which
restaurant to go to, request a reservation, and then get the food via
the modem. Well, four out of five isn’t bad.

10. Online Commerce

Someone needs to come along and say, here, now you can pay
electronically. By credit card, or via our bank account. And look,
there are these 50 shops for you to chose from. We need this mall
builder, and the “eCash” collector. We need to be able to do more
online than just browse. We need to enable transactions.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.