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India seeks translators for smoother computing in five languages July 1, 2006

Posted by fredericknoronha in India.
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Janabhaaratii, a project of C-DAC Mumbai, has started a hunt for translators willing to work to make more computing power available in five Indian languages.

Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC, formerly known as National Centre for Software Technology) is a scientific society of the Indian government’s Department of Information Technology. It is involved in R&D in software technology.

Announcing this through techie circles in India, C-DAC said its Janabhaaratii Project at Mumbai is funded by the official Technology Development in Indian Language (TDIL) Group of the Ministry of Communication & IT, but is a “community-oriented Indian language initiative”.

“We plan to bring computing power to non-English speaking people by translating the desktop menus, help messages, files, FAQ’s, error messages etc of GNU Linux System in various Indian languages,” C-DAC said.

To begin, the organisation proposed translations in some of the larger Indian languages such as Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, and Malayalam.

C-DAC says that through the Janabhaaratii Project, it has made available live CDs for these languages “that one can use to input, edit, and display and print Indian language text easily.”

A live CD (or liveCD) is an operating system, usually containing other software too, that is stored on a bootable storing device, so the computer can be booted without using the hard drive and without installing into permanent memory. The operating system runs directly from the storing device.which could be a USB stick, a CD or a DVD.

“We would like to invite prospective translators who can contribute to this work on a payment basis. We will hold workshops to acquaint them with the work on the second Friday of every month,” said C-DAC.

It announced that it would build the translators’ familiarity with Indian language text-processing on the Free Software GNU/Linux platform, teach about different kinds of translations and issues involved, and offer tools to support translations.

Janabhaaratii is working to ocalise Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS). Its plans include contributing to the community efforts in developing a software suite based on GNU/Linux and made available in Indian languages.

Its objectives includes enabling wide use of Indian language computing through Free/Libre and Open Source Software systems and applications localised in Indian languages.

Janabhaaratii says it has already “made contributions” to the computing of the Maharashtra government, municipal administrators’ office at Worli-Mumbai, the Maharashtra State Police Control Room, and colleges or universities in Mumbai and Rajasthan or elsewhere.

C-DAC itself has been working on Indian language technologies and products for over 15 years. The Janabhaaratii Project is handled out of C-DAC’s Air-India Building office at Nariman Point in South Mumbai.

It earlier came out with the INDIX2 project, which makes computing in the Free Software world work better with Indic scripts, and “gives the world a more generic approach to deal with complex scripts”. Some of the fonts developed under the INDIX2 project are now also available to public from TDIL
website http://www.tdil.mit.gov.in/download/openfonts.htm

It has worked in paralled, or alongside, groups like the IITs, IIITs, Indlinux, ankurbangla (a project for localisation of Bangla), HBCSE (TIFR), FSF India, MarathiOpenSource group and corporations like IBM. “The project needs cooperation of language specialists, linguists, computer specialists, users, governments (Centre and States), academia and many others,” said C-DAC.

But not all are happy with what has been achieved so far.

“One should ask the government machinery what have they been doing with the crores of public money allocated to the TDIL project since a number of years,” said a poster, identifying himself as Kush, on a Free Software Foundation-India mailing list.

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