The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras today launched the “Nilekani Center at AI4Bharat” to promote the state of Indian language technology with the aim of creating societal impact. This center, inaugurated by Nandan Nilekani, is supported by Rohini and Nandan Nilekani with a grant of Rs 36 crore by Nilekani Philanthropies.
The AI4Bharat was set up as an initiative of IIT Madras to create an open source language AI for Indian languages.
At the center, the focus will be on doing fundamental work that can benefit society as a whole. Since the idea is to energize the ecosystem to do more for Indian languages, all researched data will be available for start-ups and other industries working on Indian language technology. These data, accessible from the official website — ai4bharat.iitm.ac.in — would include pre-trained datasets, tools and models being developed at the Centre.
“Given the rich diversity of languages in India coupled with an expanding digital world, it is important to make significant advancements in language technology for the benefit of the common man. While language technology has improved significantly for English and a few languages, Indian languages are lagging behind. The aim of the Center would be to fill this gap,” said Dr. Mitesh M. Khapra, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Madras.
The center is led by Dr. Mitesh Khapra, Dr. Pratyush Kumar and Dr. Anoop Kunchukuttan over the years. Their team, claims IIT-Madras, has made several contributions to Indian language technology, including state-of-the-art models for machine translation and speech recognition.