FUEL project aims to de­velop lan­guage re­sources us­ing open source ef­forts

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Along­side tech en­thu­si­asts in a packed hall at a five-star ho­tel in New Delhi, or­gan­i­sa­tions like C-DAC GIST, Red Hat, Mozilla, The Doc­u­ment Foun­da­tion and CSDS-Sarai came to­gether for sev­eral rounds of dis­cus­sions on lo­cal­i­sa­tion through the open source way, at the FUEL GILT con­fer­ence, 2016.

The FUEL project or­gan­ised the two-day con­fer­ence with the help of dif­fer­ent or­gan­i­sa­tions. This open source project, started by Ra­jesh Ran­jan in 2008, em­pow­ers tech­nol­ogy en­ablers with lin­guis­tic and tech­ni­cal re­sources and of­fers a ref­er­ence stan­dard for var­i­ous lo­cal­i­sa­tion prac­tices.

“FUEL is one of the rare projects that em­anated from In­dia, and is now as­so­ci­ated with var­i­ous lan­guage com­mu­ni­ties and or­gan­i­sa­tions across the world,” 43-year-old Ran­jan said.

Apart from its pres­ence in ap­pli­ca­tions be­ing de­vel­oped by var­i­ous pri­vate or­gan­i­sa­tions, FUEL is pow­er­ing sev­eral e-gov­er­nance projects of the In­dian gov­ern­ment.

At the con­fer­ence, Vinay Thakur, direc­tor (projects) at the Na­tional e-Gov­er­nance Di­vi­sion, Min­istry of Elec­tron­ics and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy (MeitY), stressed on the im­por­tance of lo­cal­i­sa­tion in ma­jor gov­ern­ment projects. Thakur, who has more than two decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in launch­ing var­i­ous IT and e-gov­er­nance projects, re­vealed that the gov­ern­ment is set to bring lo­cal lan­guage sup­port to fea­ture phones. The gov­ern­ment is ad­di­tion­ally work­ing on a uni­fied mo­bile app ex­pe­ri­ence with a lo­calised ex­pe­ri­ence, he stated.

Thakur told the at­ten­dees that over 100 gov­ern­ment web­sites are al­ready fea­tur­ing lo­cal lan­guages to reach the masses across the coun­try. There are also plans to con­vert an ex­ist­ing 630 mil­lion land records to lo­cal lan­guages, he added.

Ma­hesh Kulka­rni, as­so­ci­ate direc­tor of C-DAC and head of GIST Re­search Labs, joined the con­fer­ence as one of the pan­el­lists. He show­cased the in­tro­duc­tion of lo­cal­i­sa­tion in the Na­tional e-Gov­er­nance Plan. Kulka­rni also high­lighted the avail­abil­ity of the open source GO Trans­late plugin that en­ables Web-based ap­pli­ca­tions to of­fer lan­guage op­tions and lo­cal­i­sa­tion in over 12 In­dian lan­guages.

The con­fer­ence was at­tended by the vol­un­teers of the Wiki­me­dia Foun­da­tion who are trans­lat­ing Wikipedia con­tent into var­i­ous In­dian lan­guages. Also, Mozilla hosted a hackathon on the side­lines of the con­fer­ence to nur­ture job-ori­ented skills among In­dian de­vel­op­ers.

“It is great to see that a project I started eight years back is now sup­ported

by or­gan­i­sa­tions like Red Hat, C-DAC, Mozilla and Li­breOf­fice. More than 65 lan­guages com­mu­ni­ties are work­ing with FUEL,” Ran­jan con­cluded.

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