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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Gully cricket Sanskrit commentary video goes viral!

The love and reverence for Sanskrit lies deep within every Bharatiya. A short video showing kids playing backyard cricket has gone viral, not because of any precociously talented batsman or bowler, but because of the fluent and riveting commentary in Sanskrit that accompanied it!

The video was posted by Lakshmi Narayana B.S, a full-time worker of SAMSKRITA BHARATI, an organization dedicated to promoting the everyday use of Sanskrit language. Shri Lakshmi Narayana is based in Hubballi, Karnataka.

The video has garnered close to 500K views, and was even appreciated by PM Modi –

In related news, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) recently announced a collaboration with Google to promote Sanskrit. Google has received 100,000 sentence pairs from ICCR to help the tech giant form its artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) models for translating Sanskrit literature to other languages and vice-versa.

The Sanskrit team from the University of Delhi, comprising academics, students and teachers, was led by professor Amarjiva Lochan. ICCR President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said this initiative is in line with ICCR’s mission to help the global community understand Bharatiya culture and languages.

Eight Bharatiya languages, including Sanskrit, were introduced to Google Translate in May. The seven other languages included in the Google Translate update are Assamese, Bhojpuri, Dogri, Konkani, Maithili, Mizo, and Meiteilon (Manipuri).

“One of the key targets that we set for ourselves is that while Google has the mission to organise the world’s information…’s definitely a part of our long-term commitment to ultimately help democratise access to information for every Indian in their local language. As we look at various Indian languages, Sanskrit has a very special place,” Google Research Lab Director Manish Gupta said.

While this initiative sounds good on paper, one hopes the ICCR and other government bodies are equally aware of the dangers of outsourcing the management of our traditional knowledge systems to a US entity. We need to ensure that we, and not Google, retain the final right to define Sanskrit and other Bharatiya language translations. We cannot let our languages be defined to the world by some opaque algorithm controlled by a foreign actor.

Big tech companies are ultimately controlled by their sovereign governments, and we in Bharat have already suffered enough due to the mistranslation and distortion of our scriptures and other literary texts by Western Indologists. All government functionaries need to be aware of the dangers of digital colonisation, and we need to focus on creating our own tech platforms in areas like search, social media and AI.

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