April 27, 2017
Aims to make 8,000 state and central government websites multilingual with public help for translations
The Centre for Develop ment of Advanced Com puting (C-DAC), head quartered in Pune, is call ing out to the masses for help in making around 8,000 state and central government websites multilingual in a bid to localise e-governance.
Part of the national e-governance plan, the project aims to make websites available in the 22 official languages of India. This would be useful for individuals who might not be fluent in either English or Hindi, languages in which most digital content is currently available in the country. Naturally, such a mammoth task needs to be crowdsourced to cover all the languages.
Mahesh Kulkarni, associate director at C-DAC and chief investigator of the project, shared that there are around 31mission projects at the state and central levels, and a plethora of websites for each of them. "Using the engagement model, we want individuals and agencies which can provide their translation expertise to provide appropriate meaning to the content.As we cover all the languages, resources for some of the recently added languages such as Maithili, Dongri, Santhali and Bodo are limited, and would encourage people to contribute so that all the stakeholders involved can benefit, "he said.
The public can contribute towards improving the translation of content across platforms, thereby contextualising the information available on websites. Work on the project began a couple of years ago, but it was only recently that the framework got ready to be operational. With the completion of the first stage, around 100 websites have been worked upon, and work on the second stage has begun.
Since the data is voluminous, the project allows guest visitors to contribute towards improving the meaning of the content. "Our target is to make around 8,000 websites multilingual, so that the direct beneficiaries can have easy access. These include both transactional and search websites, from the railways and income tax to passport and the public distribution system (PDS). Since the focus is on simultaneous release into all languages, we don't want the translated output to be solely based on machine-generated responses, which often lack contextualisation, "Kulkarni added. Individuals who are part of the project are able to make better translations, and these are instantaneously reflected on all the websites where the content is the same, he stressed.
But, in order to keep a check on visitors who might want to make changes with mischievous intent, the translations will need to go through verifi cation, after which the changes will be made across the websites. Hemant Darbari, executive director at C-DAC, said, "Government websites host important information and one cannot rely only on machine-generated output for translation. Thus, by engaging with people, information can be vetted so that no incorrect translation is presented on the portals. "The project will be regularly updated so that various technologies can be integrated and anyone can connect for translations across websites.
Shalini Kelkar, a graduate in Marathi, was overjoyed to learn that she could contribute towards improving the content online. "It is an initiative that needs to be appreciated. Language graduates, and those who are experts in languages that have been only recently granted official status, can make important information accessible to the masses, who are otherwise unable to benefit fully from the digital services, "she said.
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