artificial intelligence, google translate, indian council for cultural relations, machine learning, manish gupta, sanskrit, vinay sahasrabuddhe

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) on Thursday announced a collaboration with Google to promote Sanskrit.

ICCR and Google had earlier signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to advance the tech giant’s artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) language technology for translating Sanskrit literature to many other languages and vice-versa.

Google has received 100,000 sentence pairs from ICCR as part of the project’s pilot phase in order to form its AI/ML models. The Sanskrit team from the University of Delhi, comprising academics, students and teachers, was led by professor Amarjiva Lochan.

“The ICCR’s mission is to help the global community understand Indian culture in all of its nuances and linguistic traditions. It was very natural for us to take this initiative, and I must say that the ICCR has been contributing to building a bridge with the global community through languages,” ICCR President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said.

The ICCR expects that, by gradually training the machine learning model with the raw data sets it has given Google, it would be possible to enhance Google’s Sanskrit translation accuracy.

The ICCR, which falls under the Ministry of External Affairs, has been offering books and other resources to assist people to learn Sanskrit, which is frequently referred to as the ‘language of the Gods’.

Eight Indian languages, including Sanskrit, were introduced to Google Translate in May. The seven other languages included in the Google Translate update are Assamese, Bhojpuri, Dogri, Konkani, Maithili, Mizo, and Meiteilon (Manipuri).

“When we started Google Research Lab three years ago, one of the things I was really excited about was using the technology to start working on problems that matter,” said Google Research Lab Director Manish Gupta.

“One of the key targets that we set for ourselves is that while Google has the mission to organise the world’s information, we saw a very significant gap between the capabilities of many Google products in languages such as English versus the capabilities in Indian languages.”

“We’ve been really determined, and it’s definitely a part of our long-term commitment to ultimately help democratise access to information for every Indian in their local language. As we look at various Indian languages, Sanskrit has a very special place,” he added.

In 2021, ICCR collaborated with Gamapp Sportswizz Tech Pvt Ltd to launch ‘Little Guru’, a specialised app for learning Sanskrit in an effort to promote the language and make learning engaging.

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