Google launches Navlekha, a new platform for Indic language publishersSohini Mitter
The search giant wants to bring India's 135,000 local language publishers online by making web hosting smooth and simple.
At the fourth ‘Google for India’ event, the internet search giant unveiled Project Navlekha — its new initiative to bring India’s 135,000 Indic language publications online in a hassle-free manner.
Navlekha, which means ‘a new way to write’ in Sanksrit, will allow local publishers who do not have websites to make their offline content fit for online publishing in less than a minute. They can simply scan documents or PDFs and create instant web pages on the platform. No expert digital knowledge is required in the process, claims Google.
The platform will first be rolled out to Hindi publications, a handful of which Google has already onboarded, and will later be extended to other Indic languages. Google will offer free hosting, a branded domain for the first three years, and AdSense (its ad platform) support so that publishers can start monetising their content immediately.
Rajan Anandan, VP, India and SEA Sales and Operations, Google, said in a statement:
“The majority of internet users in India today are Indian language users, and this number is expected to reach 500 million in the next two years. Smartphones are not useful unless they work in people’s primary language and provide access to great content in their native tongues. Right now, the amount of online content in Indian languages is only 1 percent of what's available in English.”
Project Navlekha comprises a tool that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to render any PDF containing Indian language content into editable text, making it easy for print publishers to create mobile-friendly web content. Through the initiative, Google aims to “bring more relevant content online”.
It will also go on to improve Google’s Search product in India, making it more localised and accurate. “For Search to be truly helpful, it should bring you useful content, in all the languages you understand,” Shashidhar Thakur, VP, Engineering, Google Search, said at the event.
In order to make the most of India’s vast — and ever-growing — regional language population, Google has also announced a Bilingual Feed that will curate news in English and Hindi. In the coming weeks, feeds in Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, and Malayalam will also be rolled out. These constitute the top-consumed languages on the Indian web.
Further, Google Go can now provide audio playback for news in English, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam, and Telugu. “On the Google Assistant, we’re adding Marathi (with seven more Indian languages coming soon) and even more Indian apps — like Where Is My Train, Airtel, and Hello English — making them available through the convenience of voice control,” Google announced.