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The first-ever Bhasha festival unites startups, experts and policy makers to stand up for local languages, next edition in Nov

The first-ever Bhasha festival unites startups, experts and policy makers to stand up for local languages, next edition in Nov

Saturday March 12, 2016 , 3 min Read

As Digital India becomes a reality, an overwhelmingly large number of Indians are at a risk of missing out on the best of digital benefits if critical attention is not paid to the role of Indian languages.

This was the clear message that came out from the first-ever Indian Languages Digital Festival, Bhasha, organised by YourStory on March 11 in New Delhi.

Shradha Sharma with startups that showcased at Bhasha.

Supported by the Ministry of Culture, and language partner Reverie Language Technologies, the festival featured leading language experts, cultural performers, and other industry experts who discussed the opportunities, obstacles and the way around them to ensure Indian languages also thrived in the digital ecosystem.

Inaugurated by the Minister of State (independent charge) for Culture and Tourism and Civil Aviation, Dr Mahesh Sharma, the event saw participation of over 250 people, including startups, language experts, academicians, authors and publishers, all focused on enabling just such a change.

Announcing the second edition of the Bhasha festival in November this year, Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory, said,

Our languages are precious knowledge resource and of immense cultural and emotional significance to be allowed to wither away. We are all committed to ensure their survival and growth in the new digital India that is evolving.
Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (independent charge) for Culture and Tourism and Civil Aviation.

The highlight of the festival was the startup showcase by 13 startups working in the language space. These included, Lipikar, BiliTutor, Shradhanjali, Planet GOGO, IndianTTS, Megdap Innovation Labs Pvt Ltd., eReleGo, Tide Learning, Matrubharti, Shabdanagri, IndusOS, Linguavista, and Pratilipi.

The panel session on ‘Celebrating the cultural and linguistic diversity of India,’ laid emphasis on the need to bridge the digital gap between India and Bharat and the challenges that individuals and organizations encounter while working with local languages.

Panel discussion at Bhasha.

There were engaging conversations around ‘Using technology as platform to engage the local language reader, and business models to ensure the commercial success of regional language content providers’ in a panel session participated by Google, ‘Fortune India’ magazine, and Aspada among others. While representatives from Xiaomi, Micromax, Radio Mirchi and Internet radio Radiowalla debated on ‘How companies can go multi-lingual and the challenges in advertising and branding for such companies.’

Saurabh Kumar, Private Secretary to the Minister for Communications & Information Technology, talked about how Startup India can standup for Bharat. Meenakshi Lekhi, BJP national spokesperson, discussed the issue of digital democratization, and stressed upon the critical need to look at Indian languages to truly ensure information, and the benefits of democracy reach all segments of the population.

Maatibaani performing at BHASHA
Maati Baani performing at Bhasha

The panel sessions and talks were interspersed with impressive performances by Maati Baani of musical duo Nirali and Karthik, YouTube sensation, popular for their collaborative music with musicians around the world over the Internet, well-known Marathi singer Kushal Inamdar, and an even passionate case for Bhojpuri language by popular Bhojpuri singer Manoj Tewari. The event saw an enthusiastic audience engage with language experts in understanding opportunities in the domain.