Namaste is real, but it has got nothing to do with the Government of India.
Contrary to ongoing reports, the Government of India hasn’t launched any indigenous video conferencing tool in the country, just yet, though it is working on one. Multiple reports on the Internet ‘falsely’ suggested that the Government had launched Namaste, a home-grown Zoom rival that users could potentially look up to as a makeshift or temporary solution, while waiting for something far more exhaustive that’s coming later.
“A news saying that the Government has launched a video conferencing tool ‘NAMASTE’ to take on ‘unsafe’ Zoom is FAKE! Don’t believe such misinformation! Stay Informed, Stay Safe!” the Government of India’s MyGovIndia handle tweeted on Tuesday.
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#MyGovFactCheck of the Day: A news saying that the Government has launched a video conferencing tool ‘NAMASTE’ to take on ‘unsafe’ Zoom is FAKE! Don’t believe such misinformation! Stay Informed, Stay Safe! #IndiaFightsCorona @PIB_India @MIB_India @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/UgaaU9AsuH
— MyGovIndia (@mygovindia) April 21, 2020
Namaste is real, but it has got nothing to do with the Government of India. Namaste is a video conferencing tool that’s currently in beta on the web. There’s no app, yet. You can only access it from your web browser. Here’s the link. Be warned that the site is bare-bones and doesn’t take time out to explain to you, how everything works — you’re basically on your own. But somehow, it seems to be facing ‘tremendous’ demand and “hence you may face some temporary connectivity issues,” the website notes. Below the advisory, you’re greeted with two options, to create a new meeting, or join an existing meeting. Every new meeting generates a meeting URL, a meeting ID and a meeting code.
The website needs access to your camera and microphone — obviously — but you can choose to turn them off once you’re in a meeting. You can also chat via text, during a meeting.
That’s all that there is to it for now. Interestingly, even though Namaste could be seen as a home-grown alternative to the likes of Zoom, the website makes no mention of its privacy policies and how it would be more secure and private than competing platforms. Why would anyone want to pick it up over anything else, is a question that remains unanswered at this point of time. The tool is made by Mumbai-based Inscripts that calls Namaste “India’s very own video conferencing software built for Web, iOS and Android.” Then again, what does it do, how is it different, how is it more secure, are all important questions that must be addressed.
In the meanwhile, the Government of India has come out with a first-of-its-kind ‘innovation’ challenge under the Digital India initiative to encourage Indians to build their own home-grown video conferencing platform. The winner will be picked on July 29 and receive a contract to deploy their video conferencing solution for use by the Government of India and State Government entities for a period of 4 years. You can read more about it here.