The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt click for local language tech tools

To bridge the digital divide in the country, the ministry of information technology (IT) is focusing on the development of technology tools for Indian languages.

Om Vikas, senior director, ministry of information technology, made this clear on Wednesday while inaugurating the Second International Workshop on Technology Development in Indian Languages, organised by the computer vision and pattern recognition (CVPR) unit of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Calcutta.

Scientists and researchers working on development of similar technologies in countries like France, Germany, Canada and Japan will discuss the key issues involved in the development of technology in local languages during the three-day meet.

“There are 13 resource centres, like ISI Calcutta, which are working for the past three years to develop core technology — font, keyboard driver, spell checker, text editor and a corpus of words — in 18 regional languages recognised by the Indian Constitution,” said Vikas.

The other initiatives under the project include creation of a universal digital library, an electronic dictionary, speech-to-speech translation, spreadsheet and powerpoint in all the regional languages.

According to Vikas, the government has pumped close to Rs 13 crore into the project and is ready with optical character recognition and spell checkers for seven languages — Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Oriya, Telugu, Assamese and Manipuri. As per the present outlay, the government can spend up to Rs 6 crore per year for the project, but the amount can be scaled up.

“We have developed several language-related technologies at the ISI for Bengali, Hindi, Oriya and Assamese with the highest accuracy ever achieved for these languages,” said B.B. Chaudhuri, head of the CVPR department.

With the government taking the lead in the development of these tools, the private sector has a lot to gain, observed Vikas. “As per latest estimates, localisation of the technology market will be to the tune of $8 billion. Given our expertise in innovation, the Indian companies can command a major share of the market,” he summed up, while inviting private players to join hands with the government for “universalisation of these technologies”.

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