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India Develops Strategy for AI-Led Language Translation Platform

Image credit: Press Information Bureau

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) recently held a brainstorming session for researchers and start-ups to formulate a strategy for the country’s artificial intelligence-driven language translation platform, Bhashini. The government virtually held the session to encourage the participation of start-ups in the innovation, development, and consumption of the technology, a press release stated.

The Digital India Bhashini Mission was launched under the National Language Translation Mission. A government official explained that the Bhashini will ensure citizens can access digital government services and information in their native language. The platform is interoperable and will make AI and natural language processing (NPL) resources available to MSMEs, startups, and individuals.

Essentially, the initiative will create and nurture a digital ecosystem that involves central and state government agencies and start-ups developing and deploying electronic products and services in Indian languages. Through Bhashini, the government intends to increase the amount of content in Indian languages on the Internet, especially in domains of public interest, like governance, policy, science, and technology. Initiatives arising out of the confluence of AI techniques and NLP, like speech-to-text technology, will increase the reach of governance. As public websites become multilingual and interactive, the reach of public welfare schemes will also increase.

The release added that start-ups are an essential part of India’s digital ecosystem. Therefore, the government will support them to develop India-specific IT solutions delivered in local languages. The government hopes that this initiative leads to more AI language-based startups becoming Unicorns.

Earlier this month, the government unveiled another platform to increase transparency in governance. The National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP) aims to democratise access to public government data by making information accessible, interoperable, interactive, and available on a user-friendly platform. As reported by OpenGov Asia, NDAP hosts foundational datasets from various government agencies and provides tools for analytics and visualisation. All datasets on the platform can be downloaded and merged freely.

The official public launch follows a beta release of the platform in August 2021 that provided access to a limited number of users for testing and feedback. NDAP follows a use-case-based approach to ensure that the datasets hosted on the platform are tailored to the needs of data users from government, academia, journalism, civil society, and the private sector. All datasets are standardised to a common schema, which makes it easy to merge datasets and do cross-sectoral analysis. The portal developers informed that they would continue to add and update features and data on the platform.

The platform has datasets from sectors including agriculture, power and natural resources, transport, housing, finance, health, tourism, science and technology, communications, and industries. One of the key features of NDAP is that it makes key foundational datasets interoperable with each other, enabling easy cross-sectoral analysis. The rise of data and digital technologies are rapidly transforming economies and societies, with enormous implications for governments’ daily operations. NDAP is a critical milestone, which aims to aid India’s progress by promoting data-driven decision-making. NDAP will bolster the government’s efforts to strengthen the data ecosystem.

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