Free Indian Language Software is Hot!
On June 20th, one of the hottest days yet this summer in New Delhi, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) added a few degrees to the temperature. In a high profile ceremony, Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the National Advisory Council, C-DAC and its parent, the Ministry for Communications & Information Technology released a software CD package of computer tools for Hindi — India’s most spoken language. Hindi is the second most spoken language in the world, after Chinese. Around 500 million people speak Hindi in India and abroad, and the total number of people who can understand the language globally is estimated to be around 800 million.
This free CD includes a full suite of Hindi office automation tools, web browser, email client, OCR tools and language interface facilities. Earlier, in April, C-DAC and the Ministry had released a similar package of computer applications, fonts and tools for the Tamil language. In the next six months, the Ministry has announced an ambitious plan to make this package of office applications, fonts and tools freely available in all the 22 major Indian languages. Both Hindi and Tamil language software is available for free download from the Indian Language Data Centre (www.ildc.in) website.
Thiru Dayanidhi Maran, the Minister of Communications & Information Technology, explained that the inspiration for making these tools available to all the citizens of India originated in his observation that other countries with similar local language requirements, like China and Japan, were supporting their citizens with the wide distribution of freely available computer fonts and native language tools. The release marks a milestone in the efforts of Thiru Dayanidhi Maran, who is also Chairman of Governing Council of C-DAC, to bring about a language computing technology revolution in the country.
Mr. Maran noted that the CD includes BharateeyaOO.o, an Indian localized version of OpenOffice.Org. To the rousing applause of the audience, he asserted that this freely available office suite is in every way the equal of (non-free) Microsoft Office.
Smt. Sonia Gandhi explained that the release of Indian language applications, fonts and tools was another important step in the realization of the dream to develop indigenous Indian technologies that can help to close the digital divide and build up the capabilities of the nation.
Also present on the dias were distinguished leaders such as Dr. Shakeel Ahmed, Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, Dr. RMS Sinha, Professor, IIT Kanpur, Dr. Rajeev Sangal, Professor, IIIT Hyderabad, Mr. Brijesh Kumar, Secretary, Department of Information Technology and Mr. S. Ramakrishnan, Director General, C-DAC.
Smt. Sonia Gandhi personally handed the CD of free Hindi tools to representatives from top Indian media including Aaj Tak, Times of India, India Today, Dainik Jagran, Pioneer, Hindustan, and Punjab Kesari. Arun Poorie of the India Today group said this release of free software tools for the desktop in Hindi would revolutionize the news dispatch systems across the country. Mrinal Pande of the Hindustan saw this freely available software as a step forward in empowering disadvantaged groups, especially Indian women, to cross the digital divide.
Contents of the free CD
- Hindi Language True Type Fonts with Keyboard Driver
Contributors: C-DAC, Modular Infotech, Cyber Scape Multimedia, C.K. Technologies and Softview
- Hindi Language Multifont Keyboard Engine for True Type Fonts
Contributors: Cyber Scape Multimedia
- Hindi Language Unicode Compliant Open Type Fonts
Contributors: C-DAC, Modular Infotech, Cyber Scape, CAD Graf Digital System Ltd.
- Hindi Language Unicode Compliant Keyboard Driver
- Generic Fonts Code and Storage Code Converter for Hindi
Contributors: Priya Infomatech
- Hindi Language Version of Bharateeya OO.o (OpenOffice.org)
- Firefox — Browser in Hindi
- GAIM — Multi Protocol Messenger in Hindi
- Columba — Email Client in Hindi
- Hindi OCR
- Aasaan Typing Tutor for Hindi & English
Contributors: C.K. Technologies
- Integrated Word Processor
- Dictionary English-Hindi
- Hindi Language Spell Checker
- Hindi Language Transliteration Tool
- Hindi Language Text to Speech System
Contributors: IIIT, Hyderabad, Prologix
- Translation support system from English to Hindi (Available via the Web)
Contributors: IIT, Kanpur
- Hindi Language Corpora (Available via the Web)
Related Open Source Projects
- The Hindu Business Line, India: Hindi software tools, fonts for free
- The Financial Express, India: New Hindi software launched
- The Indian Express, India: Let IT help common man: Sonia
- The Calcutta Telegraph, India: Maran bid to expand infotech use
- Press Information Bureau, Govt of India: Free Hindi Software Tools and Fonts Launched
- C-DAC Press Release: Hindi Software Tools & Fonts Released in Public Domain
- Technology Development for Indian Languages (TDIL), MCIT, India