IIT Madras launches ‘Nilekani Centre at AI4Bharat’ to promote Indian language technology

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras today launched the ‘Nilekani Centre at AI4Bharat’ to promote the state of Indian language technology with the intention to create a societal impact. This Centre, inaugurated by Nandan Nilekani,  is being supported by Rohini and Nandan Nilekani with a grant of Rs 36 crore through Nilekani Philanthropies.

The AI4Bharat was set-up as an initiative of IIT Madras to build open-source language AI for Indian languages.

At the centre, the focus will be to conduct foundational work which can benefit society at large. Since, the idea is to energise the ecosystem to do more for Indian languages, all the researched data will be available for start-ups and other industries working on Indian language technology. This data, which can be accessed from the official website — ai4bharat.iitm.ac.in — would include datasets, tools, and pre-trained models being developed at the Centre.

“Given the rich diversity of languages in India coupled with a rapidly expanding digital world, it is important to make significant advances in language technology to benefit the common man. While language technology has significantly improved for English and a few languages, Indian languages are lagging behind. The focus of the Centre would be to bridge this gap,” said Dr. Mitesh M. Khapra, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Madras.

The centre 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.

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