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FUEL project aims to develop language resources using open source efforts

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 Fuel Gilt

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

FUEL project organised the two-day long 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 by various private organisations, FUEL is powering several e-governance projects by the Indian government.

Localisation in e-governance projects

Vinay Thakur, director (projects) of National e-Governance Division, Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), at the FUEL conference detailed 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 Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government is set to bring local language support to feature phones. The government is additionally working on a unified mobile app experience with localised experience, he stated.

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

Mahesh Kulkarni, associate director of C-DAC and head of GIST Research Labs, joined the conference as one of the panelists to showcase the introduction of localisation in the National e-Governance plan. Kulkarni also highlighted the availability of 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 Wikimedia Foundation who are translating Wikipedia content in various Indian languages. Also, Mozilla hosted a hackathon on the sidelines of the conference to nurture job-orientated skills in Indian developers.

“It is great to see a project I started eight years back is now supported by organisations like Red Hat, CDAC, Mozilla, LibreOffice and more than 65 languages communities are working with FUEL,” Ranjan concluded.