The purpose is to make research and teaching resources on science and technology accessible to all in two languages—one in English and the other in a native Indian language.
The ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) has proposed a national mission for natural language translation. The Rs 450-crore proposal is based on the recommendations made by the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) as part of the 100-day action plan. The purpose is to make research and teaching resources on science and technology accessible to all in two languages—one in English and the other in a native Indian language. The move is ambitious in the sense that it requires digital proficiency from the user. The translation will be done in two modes—machine and human translation—for both speech-to-speech translation and text-to-text translation. This could prove a big step in making science and technology knowledge accessible to a large citizenry.
The proposal will be implemented by central and state agencies, along involvement from start-ups. The service will not only prove beneficial for teachers and students but also for publishers and authors. It will also create translation-related jobs. MeitY’s move will address the issue of low-cost education at a large scale. Nonetheless, making content translatable into all native Indian languages, along with spreading digital literacy, will perhaps be the biggest challenge—the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan funds are estimated to be enough for making 2.39 crore in rural areas digitally literate (against a target of 6 crore). Also, not everything in advanced sciences will lend itself to translation. There could yet be many a slip betwixt the cup and lip.