‘Making information and knowledge available to people in their own languages and dialects becomes extremely important in a country that is as diverse, as complex and as multi lingual as India’, the Vice President of India M Venkaiah Naidu said today. He was addressing the gathering at the demonstration of the machine language translation software ‘Saara’ in Hyderabad today.Shri. Naidu said that it is mandatory that we remove the barriers which people face to access information and technology if we wish to educate and empower our citizens. In this context, he highlighted the importance of translation initiatives likes ‘Saara’, reasoning that translation facilitates communication, exchange of ideas and information. ‘It enriches languages and literature and brings the world together’, he said.In this context he lauded the central university of Hyderabad for coming out with SAARA and said it was a good beginning.Talking about the importance of native languages, Shri Naidu opined that Promotion of mother tongue was vital for cultural advancement. He said softwares like SAARA help people aquire the best of translated versions.Dwelling upon the efficiency and cost effectiveness of machine translation systems, the Vice President observed that machines were not static, that they were capable of adapting, evolving, learning new things, making their predictions and decision making much more accurate. ‘Machine translation holds great promise for the future’, he added.
Acknowledging the fact that developing high performance machine translation systems remains a big challenge to this date, the Vice President said that moving from laboratory models to practically usable and deployable systems has not been easy.He appreciated the good work done by the team of ‘Saara’ on Natural Language Engineering in general and Machine Translation in particular in the University of Hyderabad. He also lauded the new approach to Machine Translation developed by the team which promised fast development of high performance translation systems.Terming Artificial Intelligence, as the technology of the future, Shri Naidu congratulated the Saara team for the adoption of this cutting edge technology. He expressed hope that high quality translation systems will be developed for many language pairs over the next few years.Speaking of the great linguistic diversity that existed in India in the form of more than 19,500 raw mother tongues, Shri. Naidu emphasized upon the importance of protecting and conserving India’s linguistic heritage. ‘Our languages are a crucial part of who we are, our history and our evolution as a society’, he added.Lamenting that many of our ancient languages were on the verge of decay because of decades’ worth of stagnation, lack of innovation and failure to adapt and adopt new ideas and new vocabulary, Shri. Naidu said that when a language died, it took with it the history of an entire culture.He suggested that instruction in schools could mandatorily be done in mother tongues. He also opined that Machine Translation should be taken up as a National Mission so that information can be made available to our people in their own languages and scripts on a priority basis.