books

The University Grants Commission’s (UGC) Bharatvani project to deliver content in all Indian languages through an online portal, has gone live. As of now, the portal has a multilingual dictionary which searches from among 171 dictionaries of different languages.

Note that the UGC had announced its plans to launch Bharatvani in November last year, when it said that the portal would feature content from Indian writers, government and non-government organizations, boards of education, textbook corporations, universities, publication houses and academies etc. However, the platform does not list books, likely due to copyright issues, a problem we had pointed out when the portal was announced.

Bharatvani instead has a large number of dictionaries that users can browse, search or download. Note that users need to login to download and access certain files, although the registration doesn’t quite work as we never received our confirmation email. As of now the portal lists 29 languages including English, Hindi, Marathi, Tulu, Nepali, Kashmiri, Ho etc., as searchable. The website is also available in all these languages, in addition to sporting a default Hindi/English interface.

Currently Bharatvani is only capable of providing definitions of English words in other languages. However, even this is pretty incomplete. A search for the word ‘great’ returned results in Assamese and Kannada, and there was simply no way for us to say filter to check for the Hindi or Marathi definitions. As such, Google Translate or even specialized dictionary platforms for specific languages like Shabdkosh and AamBoli, do a significantly better job. However, the platform might find specific niche use for lesser known words in relatively unknown languages.

NCERT & Sakshat: The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) currently offers copyrighted textbooks online, covering all textbooks published by the agency including for classes I to XII in Hindi, English and Urdu. There is also Sakshat, an initiative which aims to develop a variety of content like e-content for botany, commerce, history, economics etc., and an online joint entrance examination (JEE) item bank to help candidates prepare.

Online student grievance portal: In July 2014, the UGC said it would launch an ‘Online students grievance redressal portal’ that would let students and the universities along with their affiliated colleges report their grievances related to unfair practices, admissions and other issues to the UGC. The portal was finally launched in March last year.

Image source: Flickr user simonbooth under CC BY-NC 2.0