MeitY holds brainstorming with researchers & startups to shape strategy for Digital India BHASHINI

Rajeev Chandrashekhar

Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajeev Chandrashekhar said, “We see the role of startups in the innovation, development as well as consumption of technology.” He was speaking to 73 startups working in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and language technology during a brainstorming session organised by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeiTY) on ‘Mission Digital India BHASHINI – [BHASHa Interface for India] – the National Language Translation Mission (NLTM)’.

The Minister said, “It is an important part of PM Narendra Modi’s vision for opportunities for India’s youth & connecting all Indians. Whereas BharatNet and 5G shall catalyse the ‘connecting all Indians’ to Internet goal, initiatives like Bhashini shall ensure that the citizens consume the internet and Digital Government service in their own languages”, he added.

A Bhashini Platform will make AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) resources available to MSMEs, startups and individual innovators in the public domain. This mission aims to empower Indian citizens by connecting them to the digital initiatives of the country in their own language thereby leading to digital inclusion. The Bhashini platform is interoperable and will catalyse the entire digital ecosystem. It is a giant step to realise the goal of digital government.

Mission will create and nurture an ecosystem involving Central/State government agencies and startups, working together to develop and deploy innovative products and services in Indian languages. To encourage the participation of startups, a brainstorming conference was held on 24 May 2022 through video conferencing. Prominent startups that are working in the Indian Language domain participated in the conference.

Mission Digital India Bhashini also aims to increase the content in Indian languages on the internet substantially in the domains of public interest, particularly, governance-and-policy, science & technology, etc., thus will encourage citizens to use the internet in their own language.

Multi-linguality presents a major opportunity for startups for developing innovative solutions and products that can cater to all Indian citizens irrespective of the language they know. Enabling access to knowledge resources, and digital empowerment of the citizens is of high priority to achieving the goals of Digital India. Hon’ble MoS shared his wish to “digitally connect all Indians and facilitate their digital inclusion leveraging AI/NLP by transcending language barriers around the Internet”. He also said that “Startups are an important part of our Digital ecosystem and will be supported for developing India-specific and Indian Languages enabled IT solutions through Mission Digital India Bhashini.”

“I hope this may lead to more number of AI/Language based startups & ultimately Unicorns”, he added.

The Minister also remarked that 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. As public websites become multilingual and interactive, the reach of public welfare schemes will also increase. He also emphasized the important role of startups in technological innovation in our ecosystem and appealed to startups to join hands with the government and work in the Mission Digital India Bhashini to break the language barrier.

Startups also shared their views on how they can actively engage with and participate in the Mission to help the Government realize the objectives of the Mission.

(With inputs from PIB)