1st September 2006
Your suggestion at the first meeting with the National Knowledge Commission that
access to translated material is vital for increasing access to knowledge in many critical
areas and broadening and strengthening people's participation in education and
continuous learning, led the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) to focus on
translation as one of the key thrust areas of knowledge economy in India.
We recognize that there is an urgent need for expansion of quantity and improvement of
quality of translation of different types (human, machine-aided, instant, etc.) and in
different domains (literary, scientific, technical, business, etc.) that would provide greater
access to knowledge across the country. The current facilities available are inadequate
and less than socially required. There is latent unrecognised demand which is not being
met because of incomplete and asymmetric information. Inadequacy of information
compounded by the lack of coordination between potential users, also leads to market
failures. Further there is inadequate dissemination of good quality translations which
would provide a benchmark and create incentives for most private activity in this area.
Therefore, this requires some amount of public intervention, not as a permanent feature,
but as a set of measures to kick-start a process of encouraging private initiative such that
the large commercially viable provision of high quality translation in different areas
becomes feasible. The direct and indirect employment generation potential of translation
activities is very high, and could absorb a substantial part of educated unemployed youth.
Based on this the NKC formed a working group led by Dr. Jayati Ghosh to bring together
many people and agencies involved in translation, publishing and dissemination
activities.* They included representatives of some of the relevant government bodies,
academics, language experts, publishers, teachers and others associated with translation
activities in India. They met several times for workshops and consultations.
As a result of their work and discussions at the NKC we recommend the following:
1. Provide impetus for developing translation as an industry in the country.
Going by the experiences of other countries, in a country like India with its many
languages, as well as the huge potential for foreign language translation, the entire
translation industry has the potential eventually to employ between 200,000 and
half a million people.