The Made-in-India Browser

Published Date
01 - Dec - 2004
| Last Updated
01 - Dec - 2004
 
The Made-in-India Browser

In a tiny Madhya Pradesh village, a physically challenged Jagdeep Dangi has created a Hindi language browser


ll major ISPs, some NGOs, and the government, both state and central, talk of bringing the Internet to the masses. Here in Digit, we have showcased the efforts of all of them. We have shown you how people in the remotest of villages are getting tech-savvy, and how most of them use the Internet.

Why is the Internet so important? Why is it that even farmers from tiny villages have felt its touch? There are two primary reasons for it: information at your fingertips, and communication. It might be a great idea to wire up every square kilometre of our country and plug it into the Internet, but whether any good will come of it is a matter of debate.

What good is information to us if it’s in Dutch, or German, or Swahili? English is just as foreign a language to the Indian masses as Swahili is to us. If you are reading this, you are a part of a tiny minority in India.

If there were any doubts as to the tech prowess of our villages, Jagdeep Dangi has silenced them. He hails from a tiny village called Gram Bhunwara, near Ganj Basoda—a small town in Vidisha district of Madhya Pradesh. Against all odds, Dangi educated himself, and spent three years coding and nurturing his Hindi Internet browser.

“Why a browser?” we asked him. “The majority of PC users want to get on the Internet. The Internet is accessed through a Web browser, and so is vital to the masses,” he says.

He adds, “Today, everything of importance is on the Internet—exam results, news, e-mail, etc. This browser will also be useful to many governments’ rural IT education programs.”

How He Did It

Like the nameless millions, Dangi hit upon a very real roadblock to his engineering career—English. While we take the language for granted (look around you to get an idea of how pervasive English is: if you wish to learn anything, you better know English), Dangi faced immense hurdles while trying to communicate in English while earning his degree.

The experience, far from scarring, made him determined to ensure that no one else needed to go through the language maze. When we asked him how he went about the formidable task of building a Web browser, he replied, “I wanted to bridge languages, and so read many text books and magazines, and used the Internet to learn programming languages. Then I just worked day and night on my PC until I could convert my ideas into code.”

Jagdeep Dangi firmly believes in the need for a browser in the language of the masses


A humble and concise description for three years spent on voracious and dedicated reading and learning, of toiling day and night, of clattering away at his keyboard. Then again, Dangi is humility personified, and speaking to him we could almost hear the movie narrator’s voice boom, “…all-round good guy.” Complete with a healthy family.

Today, everything of importance is on the Internet... This browser will also be useful to many governments’ rural IT education programs.
Jagdeep Dangi


There’s mom and dad and five sons—Dangi at 26 is the youngest, the baby of the lot. The fact that he’s pampered is evident. He happily admits, “I am the favourite of the five children. My parents and brothers have always supported me and my work.” His father and his three eldest brothers are farmers; the fourth brother is an advocate.

We asked him if anyone helped him with the coding—friends, professors, etc. “No,” he replied simply. Then we wondered how much of a hurdle English posed to him, and how he managed to cope. He replied, “I studied in a Hindi-medium school till Class 12. English became a problem when I started my computer engineering degree. My English was very poor, but thankfully my strengths are logic and mathematics, and I managed to succeed using the subjects that required them. I do still face problems trying to express myself in English.”

Jagdeep is currently unemployed, after a marathon-run of coding. He is awaiting a patent for his browser, and wants to market it to earn some money to support his future projects. “My browser offers all the functionalities of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, with all menus and commands in the Devanagari script,” says Dangi. Perhaps the most exciting feature is the browser’s translation tool—with a mouse-click, you can translate any word displayed in the browser, or within any Windows application, into Hindi—with even the short pronunciation keys that we are used to seeing at Dictionary.com. What’s more, the software even throws a list of synonyms: where did he source the database? True to his style, Dangi spent meticulous hours scouring textbooks, dictionaries, and newspapers to build the software database, word by word, meaning by meaning.

Other Feats

The browser is his most renowned exploit, but is in no way his only creation. “I have also created other software, such as my Saral Hindi Editor, English-Hindi-English Digital Dictionary, and the Global Word Translator. Currently I am working on a full-page translation program. I have succeeded logically in the code, but need to desperately improve grammatically. If I could get help from an English Guru, I could complete it soon.” Any volunteers?

What about Linux? And his dream of a Hindi operating system? “I would love to, but I just do not have the requisite facilities. I only want to market my products to make enough money to work on more applications, including my idea of a Hindi OS.”

The Man

So what does Dangi do when he isn’t coding? “Books are my best friends, and my guru is my God. My favourite books are the Geeta-Gyaan and Premchand Ki Kahaniyan, My favourite movie is Koi Mil Gaya, and I love old songs by Mukesh.”

Most importantly, Dangi’s spirit is unbreakable. He does not use his disabilities as a crutch, as most others would try and do. He lost the use of his legs when he was young. To make matters worse, an adverse reaction to medicines injected by doctors in Bhopal while treating his legs, caused him to go blind in one eye. The allergic reaction may have given Jagdeep a close shave with death, but it only reinforced his parents’ belief that he was “a gift from God”.

Physically and visually challenged, hailing from the heart of rural India, Jagdeep Dangi’s achievements are an inspiration. When we asked about what he wants to do, he said, “I want to work for the government, in the area of software research and development. But I don’t have enough money or political contacts to get a job like that!” We hope someone who does is reading this!

Robert Sovereign SmithRobert Sovereign Smith

Robert (aka Raaabo) thinks his articles will do a better job of telling you who he is than this line ever will.