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Government to fund 100 startups to use its translation platform

MeitY has started work on natural languages translation mission with government records as the initial database.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 09, 2019, 07.57 AM IST
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The platform will be opened up for private use to allow big companies or startups to plug into it to offer services in local languages to their customers, said sources.
NEW DELHI: The government is planning to directly fund 100 startups to use its artificial intelligence (AI)-driven language platform which will offer translation services in many languages of the country.

The platform will be opened up for private use to allow big companies or startups to plug into it to offer services in local languages to their customers, said people aware of the matter. As more users access the platform, the system improves and provides better results.

The ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) has started work on the programme, called the natural languages translation mission, and is looking at providing Parliament and Election Commission records that are available in many Indian languages as an initial database for the service.

A senior official told ET that since the platform will be driven by AI and machine learning (ML), the more people use it, the more accurate it will become. “We expect the industry to take it further and the government will fund 100 startups directly with seed money to build on this technology and use it,” said an official, who did not wish to be identified.

“The government will also use the platform for furthering its own initiatives such as translating videos of technical education lectures in local languages.”

The official said that while translation services are currently offered by companies such as Google, they have their limitations.

“Those services are accurate if you use them for small sentences, but the accuracy goes down for longer sentences and where domain knowledge issues such as legal issues are involved,” said the official.

The government is trying to build a large corpus of Indian language content to address this issue.

For the initial corpus, the government will rely on text material available in both Hindi and English and will resort to Parliament documents and Election Commission notifications which are available in public domain and are issued in 22 languages.

While the ultimate aim is to offer speech to speech translation services, it will initially focus on text to text translation, said the official. Apart from Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati are the languages which the government is focusing on currently before its expands to other regional languages.

MeitY is planning to engage the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, the International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing in Pune and the Indian Institute of Science for the project.

They will work on the platform by building centres of excellence and engineering, apart from approaching the industry to collaborate for the project.

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