“Accelerate the cooperation among different groups, entities and individuals working towards digitalization of Indian languages” – Expert Group

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New Delhi: There is need for a continuous interaction and cooperation among different stakeholders working for making Indian languages suitable for the digital age, agreed participants in a roundtable organized by Delhi-based intellectuals forum, The Intellects, to mark the occasion of World Mother Language Day and 6th anniversary of Classical status to Odia Language.

The roundtable, Preparing Indian Languages for A Digital Age: A Multi-stakeholder Approach, saw participation of language experts, technologists, policymakers, journalists, digital entrepreneurs, digital content creators, digitizers, executives from commercial organizations working on Indian languages, and translators, agreed that some positive intervention from the central and state governments would help the cause of effective and faster digitalization of Indian languages.

The roundtable was chaired by Debendra Nath Rout, Chairman of The Intellects and welcomed the dignitaries. Sangram Keshari Mohapatra, the founder director of Odia Virtual Academy in Bhubaneswar, one of the two language virtual academies that exist in India. The discussion was moderated by Shyamanuja Das, technology journalist and writer. After giving an overview of the Odia Virtual Academy, Mohaptra listed the challenges and the approach taken by the Academy to solve some of them and also opened up for discussion the unsolved challenges. The group then touched upon multitude of issues—technical, policyrelated, resource-related and even social—and deliberated on how they could be tackled.

Among specific issues, challenges in optical character recognition of Indian languages, issues of teaching language online for non-resident people, need for better voice on behalf of Indian languages in standardization forums, opening up Odisha and Tamil Nadu type virtual academies in all states and making available better tools in open source were highlighted by participants. The group also pointed out the employment potential in the sector.

The participants agreed that there must be a mechanism to accelerate the cooperation among different groups, entities and individuals working towards the cause, both wiring and outside the government. The Intellects is working on a detailed set of recommendations for governmental intervention.

The participants included Prof Udayanath Sahoo, Eminent Author and Head, Sarala Das Odia Chair at JNU; Sangram Keshari Mohapatra, IAS and Founder Director, Odia Virtual Academy; V Udaya Kumar, Sr. Technical Director, National Informatics Centre; Soham Raninga, Editor & Brand Head, Digit, 9.9 Group; Sangram Keshari Senapati, Prolific Wikipedia author in Indian language; Tushar Kanti Patnaik, Joint Director, C-DAC; Mithun Das, Chief Revenue Officer, Reverie Language Technologies; Rashmi Ranjan Parida, Web journalist & Editor, Odisha Diary; Sitansu Mohapatra, Co-founder, Odia Radio; Sahashranshu Mohaptra and Shushovan Sircar,journalist at The Quint; Partha Sarathy Satapathy, Localization Expert; Pankajmala Sarangi, Odia Wikipedia contributor; Prof Basant Kumar Tripathy, Noted Translator and Debendra Nath Rout, Chairman, The Intellects.

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