In order to achieve the goals of Digital India, it is of high priority to provide citizens with access to knowledge resources and digitally empower them.
In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to better connect the country through the internet by providing internet services in regional languages, a brainstorming session with researchers and startups was held to shape strategy for Digital India BHASHINI – India’s AI led language translation platform. Prominent startups that are working in the Indian Language domain participated in the conference.
In the session on May 24, Union Minister of State Electronics & IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar spoke to 73 Startups in the field of AI & language technology on Mission Digital India BHASHINI. The Union Minister encouraged startups to work hand in hand with the government in the transformative initiative- BHASHINI – the National Language Translation Mission (NLTM).
Government eyes a comprehensive mission with BharatNet and 5G adding impetus in connecting all Indians to the internet and BHASHINI ensuring that citizens consume internet and digital government service in their own languages.
BHASHINI – [BHASHa INterface for India]
In India where 22 languages are recognised officially and several hundred languages or dialects spoken across the country, Digital India BHASHINI will create an ecosystem involving Central/State government agencies & start-ups, to develop and deploy innovative products and services in Indian languages.
BHASHINI platform will make Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing (NLP) resources available to Startups, Individual innovators and MSMEs.
BHASHINI also aims to increase content in Indian languages on the internet in the domains of public interest such as governance and policy and science & technology, and thus encourage citizens to use the Internet in their own language.
Initiatives arising out of the confluence of AI techniques and NLP such as the development of speech and text translation techniques will increase the reach of governance and provide citizen centric services. Providing Indian citizens with access to the Digital Initiatives of the country in their own language will encourage digital inclusion. Additionally, startups stand to benefit from this, since multilingualism presents a major opportunity for startups to develop innovative solutions and products that can cater to all Indian citizens regardless of their language proficiency.
It is part of the larger National Language Translation Mission which was announced in the Budget this year. BHASHINI will create an open data and open source platform that will enable startups to create a diverse range of solutions for the government and build products on top of it.
Bhasha Daan- Citizens can contribute
Bhasha Daan is a platform in BHASHINIs website that is a crowdsourcing initiative where every citizen can help to build an open repository of data to digitally enrich their languages on the internet. Citizens can volunteer to transcribe audio texts, label images in their own mother tongues and validate text written by others.
There are a number of startups in the Indian NLP space, including Yellow Messenger, Saarthi, Gnani, and Niki. According to a report by national media, globally the NLP market was valued at $15.5 Bn in 2021 and is expected to reach $341.5 Bn by 2030. This represents a CAGR of 40.9%.
Such efforts of the Ministry of Electronics and IT is notable especially as India is accelerating its digital journey at a rapid pace. In a focused effort to build the world’s largest digital infrastructure to connect all 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats of India by optical fiber, 1.54 lakh Gram Panchayats have now been connected. The establishment of 3.7 lakh Common Service Centres across India has encouraged digital entrepreneurship in rural areas and improved access to digital services for the common man.