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Bringing Social Transformation via Education

Education is a necessity for making social transformation. According to constitution of India, ‘Right to Education’ is a fundamental right. In India, 65% of students go to Government Schools. I too studied at one such school – Kendriya Vidyalaya (Central School). My fee was negligible, but the quality of education and the dedication of my teachers was paramount. It helped mould young minds like mine well.

According to the survey report by the Department of Education, the number of school dropouts has increased by five folds in Government schools in Karnataka this year. Some of the reasons attributed for dropping out of school were – Migration, Disinterest in studies, Domestic work, Illness, Distance to school, Neglect towards girl child’s education etc

While it was disheartening to see the survey results, efforts taken by a few warriors to fight this problem offer a glimmer of hope. An article in Edex magazine highlighted how some people are imparting the value of education and motivating more kids to enrol in schools.

The entire article is here: https://www.edexlive.com/beinspired/2019/jan/30/meet-the-people-who-are-stopping-karnatakas-schools-from-shutting-down-5179.html

One of the stories that caught my attention was that of Venkatesh who brought many child labourers working in sericulture industry, back to schools.

Here, in his own words:

“Last year a sericulture factory near Hoskote had child labourers working in it. When we spoke to the owner, he was not ready to let them go as the parents were given money and had signed a two-year agreement. But we convinced him and told him that we will repay him. Later, the children were enrolled in school and we felicitated the owner for letting the children go to school. He did not even take the amount from us. He realised that their future is very important”

Child Education

This is inspiring at many levels.The root cause of the problem was identified and dealt with head on. Offering to pay for the children’s two year agreement showed the dedication and commitment towards the cause. Felicitating the owner for letting the kids study instead of reprimanding him for hiring them earlier, brought about a big transformation in his outlook.

Sometimes ordinary people doing extraordinary things, teach you more about patience, commitment, dedication, negotiation and transformation.

Morai in FICCI-ILIA Newsletter

Morai is proud to be a member of FICCI-ILIA.

The mission of FICCI-ILIA is – To work with multiple stakeholders across the Indian language and technology industry to develop a common forum that will facilitate innovation, networking, policy advocacy and thought leadership to foster Indic Publishing.

We at Morai are passionate about providing multilingual content and utilizing open source software.

In the latest FICCI-ILIA Newsletter(Dec 2018-Jan 2019), we share a small article about Introduction to Internationalisation and Localisation (see below).

Internationalisation i18n

Introduction to Localisation

Core Values for a Startup

I began my entrepreneurial journey in June 2018 as an Incubatee at NSRCEL in IIM Bangalore. We were the top 100 women selected, from over 6000 applications from all over India as a part of WSP(Women’s Startup Program). We had rigorous boot camps at IIM Bangalore prior to selection where we were given assignments.

One of the tasks was to create a video and speak about the top 3 core values of our startup. When one starts the journey with just an idea in ones mind, it is difficult to think far ahead about values of a startup that is yet to be formed. But I had worked for various organizations over the years and I asked myself, what were the core 3 values that mattered the most?

In this video below, I share my perspective:

Recently I had doubts in my mind while taking a decision for Morai. Then I thought about the 3 core values and the doubts disappeared.

In the rush of building things and finding solutions, we often forget little things that are immensely valuable. Sometimes it is necessary to pause a little and indulge in such exercise, to build strong foundations for our startups.

 

Supporting Digital Content in Indian Languages

Language is a means for communication. A wider language support ensures a wider audience outreach. India has 22 official languages, yet only English(which 80% of the Indian population are not fluent in), dominates the Indian online space. Users are expected to learn English to use digital platforms, instead of providing content to users in a language they are comfortable in. From the deep technical discussions in Tamil in a software company in Chennai to the Microwave with all knobs in Finnish in Finland, I have experienced and realized the immense benefits of localizing content for user comfort. More than a decade ago, I worked in the i18n* of a software. This software underwent l10n* in Japanese and was tested rigorously to ensure quality control for ease of Japanese users. With regard to localization support here in India, we are a bit late in the game. Even today, only a few players provide localized content. But some organizations are now realizing the economic benefits of localizing content as they eye markets in tier-2 and tier-3 cities. Amazon recently launched a Hindi version of it’s offerings.

* So what exactly is i18n and l10n?

We hear these two terms frequently with regard to providing local language support. i18n is a numeronym that stands for internationalization. The number 18 denotes the number of letters between the first(‘i’) and last letter(‘n’). l10n is also a numeronym that stands for localization, the number 10 denotes the number of letters between the first(‘l’) and last letter(‘n’).

i18n is the process of designing and developing software in such a way that it can be translated or localized easily for any other language.

l10n is the actual customization of the i18n software for a specific language target audience via translation.

At first it may sound confusing, but the following figure based on a chart from the LISA website, depicts the difference between the internationalization and localization process a little more clearly.

Localisation and Internationalisation

The w3c website provides more clarity.

Translation

There are two ways to translate content – Manual Translation and Automated Machine Translation.

Manual translation, as implied is translation via human intervention.
Let us look at how machines perform translation. For convenience, let us see how one of the most popular machine translation providers – Google Translate works. Google translate initially used the Phrase Based Translation model which translated a sentence word by word. The newer model is based on Neural Machine Translation(NMT) which uses Deep learning to build an artificial neural network to teach itself translation. In simpler words, it translates sentences as a whole instead of word by word translation thus making the translation more context aware and hence more accurate and meaningful.

Pros of Machine Translation

a. Super Quick
Human translators can never compete with the speed and processing power of machines, which translate big blocks of data within a few seconds.

b. Cost Effective
Google Translate being a free service, saves you the translation fee charged by professional translators.

Cons of Machine Translation

a. Dynamic Translation via APIs
If your app or program uses Google Translation APIs for dynamic translation service, the charges get expensive over time.

b. Literal translation
Certain words like Proper Nouns should not be translated. In numerous instances, I found a lot names of places also getting translated.

c. Double meaning
There are certain words that have multiple meanings. A lot of times, such words are incorrectly translated.

d. Spelling mistakes
Based on my experience, I found a lot of words were spelt incorrectly in local Indian languages. The mistakes were not mere typos, but varied significantly from the original content. Running reverse translate led to utter chaos.

e. Complex sentences
While simple sentences were correctly interpreted, lengthier sentences were reordered and translated incorrectly.

f. Indian Language support
The Google translation service for western languages is much better compared to Indian languages. This analysis is based on my personal experience using the translation service in Hindi, Kannada and Marathi, as the end result needed a lot of correction.

A study that evaluates the use of Google Translate in medical communication, made the following conclusion.
Google Translate has only 57.7% accuracy when used for medical phrase translations and should not be trusted for important medical communications.

There are skeptics who claim that automated decoding of phrases will never be perfect as they lack understanding, emotions and imagination. Weighing the Pros and Cons of Machine Translation, a recommended approach is to use a hybrid option. Automated translation can be used as a baseline, with manual correction of mistakes. Some people predict that the current human translators will play the role of quality control for machine translations until the automated translations reach the level of human perfection.

Digital Trends in India

A study done by KPMG states that ‘Digital’s future lies in the Indian language internet users’

The following figure from the KPMG study displays a Gamut of factors driving the adoption of Indian languages on Digital Platforms:

Digital Trends in India

FICCI-ILIA

Since providing content in Indian languages is a complex exercise, it needs collaboration between various stakeholders including government, educational institutions, private organizations etc. FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) in association with the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India, launched the ‘FICCI-Indian Language Internet Alliance (FICCI-ILIA)‘. The objective of the alliance is to boost internet penetration in the country by enabling greater access of regional language content on the internet

The Road ahead

The content above discusses translation service in terms of text only. It is not only important to create localized digital content, we will need to even look at supporting Indian languages via language friendly keyboards. And the next step from there would be to explore translation in the area of voice and speech. There are software that provide Speech to Text and Text to Speech services. While there are many big vendors providing proprietary solutions, standardization and open source solutions will drive innovation and hence help users immensely.

Smart City Website

After living in 9 different cities in 4 different countries, I returned back to India last year. To the city of Belgaum in Karnataka, the city where I was born. The Government of India had chosen 20 cities initially under the Smart City development proposal and Belgaum was one among them. There are 100 cities in India now identified for development as Smart Cities. After spending the past 10 years in US, a lot of people often ask me the question “How do you find it here in Belgaum?” That answer will take one whole post. But my one line answer usually is, “I like it here, after all I live in a Smart City”. On hearing the two words – Smart City, most of them start complaining about the different city issues. When I faced my own challenges finding information about the city online, I decided to do something about it. That was when the idea of building a website dedicated to the city came about.

After researching the top 10 Smart Cities all over the world, I realized that every city had one website dedicated to the city information and another one with government information.

SmartCitiesTop10

In India, certain cities have websites but the coverage was minimal, had broken links or in certain cases, was completely absent.

A Single Pane of Glass
The need for a city based website that catered to all information within the city was a no brainer and I decided that it would be the foundation to build more value added services.

The following basic best practices have gone into the design of the website:

Easy Navigation
Information that can be easily found is a key to any successful site. Hence a lot of thought has gone into the design of the navigation and arrangement of content. Aim is to keep the website clean, simple and organized.

Accuracy
Keeping the information up to date, checking for broken links via validators. Ensuring that there are no spelling and grammatical mistakes by rigorous editing.

Simplification
Instead of using unrelated images, gifs, animation or gimmicks, the focus has been only on content that caters to the need of the user. While everyone likes pretty websites, the focus of this website is information driven.

Website Design Priorities

The data from the survey by Hubspot, as shown in the image above shows that visitors value easy to find information more than beautiful design or fancy UX.
Reference: https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/14953/what-do-76-of-consumers-want-from-your-website-new-data.aspx

Call to action
When we provide a user some information, we also try to provide them means to take action with that information as well. For example, booking a hotel, a movie ticket or a travel ticket etc

Performance
We have tried to make page load times more effective by optimizing, minifying and compressing assets, styles and javascript libraries.

Mobile Friendly
We have designed a website with Responsive layout that will be available for multiple screen sizes like Mobiles, Tablets etc