When former Human Resources Development Minister, Smriti Irani, inaugurated the Bharatvani portal earlier this year, few understood the importance of the move. In modern societies, there are hardly any misunderstandings — only miscommunication. Once it is up and running, Bharatvani could become a way to prevent miscommunication — at least on account of language.
It is a mammoth task: Bharatvani is a project with an objective of delivering knowledge in and about all the languages in India. It will use multimedia (text, audio, video, images) formats through a portal (website). This portal will be all-inclusive, interactive, dynamic and moderated. The idea is to make India an Open Knowledge society where language is valued and cherished.
Today, many languages — and their scripts — are on the verge of extinction because not enough people speak them and there is no institutionalized agency to record and develop them. By covering almost all Indian languages, Bharatavani will connect with all the communities of India, reaching remote areas and creating understanding. It will do so using the most inexpensive and easily adaptable means: the internet. It will make Indian languages visible on the internet, creating dictionaries and thesaurus so that the language can be used on social media, for blogging, writing poetry, literature…and eventually, also as a tool to teach the language in cyberspace.
Twenty two scheduled languages (Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Maithili, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Santali, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu) are already available on Bharatvani. More than 100 more languages will be covered in a phased manner. Eventually, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communication and IT (MCIT), language tools such as fonts, software, typing tools, mobile apps, multi language translation tools, text to speech, speech to text etc. will be made available.
The project is being run by the Central Institute of Indian Launguages in Mysuru, Karnataka. It is being advised by a committee of eminent linguists and knowledge experts (the National
Advisory Committee), a Technology Advisory Committee which will guide Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) on the technological aspects of the portal and the language tools; and editorial committees in various languages to aggregate content.
The portal will document languages and literature in digital format. It will design scripts and typography codes. It will prepare dictionaries and glossaries. It will help in the translation of knowledge texts in modern and classical languages. And eventually it will offer online language teaching, learning and language teacher training with certification.