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AI, ML to drive Budget 2021’s National Language Translation Mission

New Delhi: The National Language Translation Mission, announced in Union Budget 2021-22, will use artificial intelligence, machine learning and speech recognition technologies to build the next generation government apps and websites that will be “conversational” like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, government officials said.

The Mission will work towards creating a “voice-based internet” which will be accessible in popular Indian languages and not be dominated by Hindi or English.

“If we look at the government applications currently, most websites are only available in Hindi and English and not in popular languages like Bengali or Tamil. We will use data, AI, speech recognition to make sure that an individual can access government services online in a language of his/her choice,” an official said.

The idea behind the language mission was to push for internet access in Indian languages, the official added.

“We have to make it conversational like an Alexa or Siri where apps can talk to a user in Indian languages — as we go towards a voice-based internet,” the official said. Technology giants operating in India, including Google, Facebook and Amazon, are driving internet adoption in regional languages as they plan to tap into the next 500 million internet users in the country.

Even as India has about 700 million internet subscribers, companies and governments will have to rapidly build on their local language tools to tap the next set of users.

The mission will build on existing projects in the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) which has been working on various applications like text-to-speech, text-to-text, etc.