In a multilingual country like India, the primary concern and challenge underlying any activity lies in offering universal access to information and services to more and more people in their own language. As the world is in midst of a technological revolution nucleated around Artificial Intelligence and Information and Communication Technology (ICT), advances in Human Language Technology (HLT) makes it convenient for people in their interaction with machines. In India, multilingual web-content is poised for accelerated growth and there is, therefore, a huge challenge to provide user friendly and cost-effective tools, applications and contents that enable access to ICT infrastructure in various Indian Languages. Advances in Indian language technology has the power to benefit a wide range of people with diverse backgrounds from an illiterate land tiller wanting to know the relevant land records of his small land in local language and also illiterate patients can communicate to a doctor in their respective languages.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has a ongoing ambitious programme of TDIL (Technology Development for Indian Languages) with the aim of developing Information Processing Tools and Techniques to facilitate human-machine interaction without language barrier; creating and accessing multilingual knowledge resources and integrating them to develop innovative user products and services.The primary objectives of the programme include developing and promoting Software Tools and Applications for all 22 officially recognized Indian Languages, contributing to collaborative development of futuristic technologies leading to innovative products and services, acting as a catalyst for proliferating Language Technology products and providing solutions and standardization across all levels.
National Language Translation Mission: Bhashini
A mission National Language Translation Mission (NLTM) also known as “Bhashini'' has also been announced in the budget 2021 by the Hon’ble Finance Minister and has started in March 2022 as a three-year mission with the vision of harnessing natural language technologies to create a diverse ecosystem of contributors, partnering entities and citizens for the purpose of transcending language barriers, thereby ensuring digital inclusion and digital empowerment in an AatmaNirbhar Bharat. The aim of the Mission Bhashini is to enable all Indians easy access to the Internet and digital services in their own languages and increase the content in Indian Languages.
To this end, the Mission aims to develop a public digital platform for enabling an easy and responsive ecosystem for facilitating translation among various Indian languages and English using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP). Some of the major initiatives are being undertaken for building core language technologies like Machine Aided Translation (MAT), Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Text to Speech system (TTS), Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Speech to Speech translation (S2S) and and adapting IT Tools and solutions in Indian languages.
In line with the above aim, the said public digital platform on Indian language technologies viz. Bhashini has recently gone live on https://bhashini.gov.in, following launch of the Mission as ‘Digital India Bhashini on 4.7.2022 by Hon’ble Prime Minister.
Photograph 1: Launch of the Digital India Bhashini Mission during Digital India Week at Ghandinagar, Gujarat by Hon’ble Prime Minister along with Hon’ble Chief Minister, Gujarat and Hon'ble Minister of State Electronics & Information Technology on July 4, 2022
The Mission Bhashini will build an Indian Language Technologies ecosystem for bringing together multiple efforts by government, academia and startups towards development of Indic Language Technologies and evolve as a Unified Language Interface (ULI) for Indian Languages.