University Grants Commission (UGC) is the statutory body which coordinates, determines and maintains standards of university education in India. UGC is now planning to launch Bharatvani Project which is real terms an ‘all comprehensive and user-friendly’ portal. This will be the largest internet language website across the world, where knowledge in all Indian languages will be collected and disseminated.
Dr. Jaspal Singh Sandhu, UGC secretary sent a letter to all VCs while introducing them to Bharatvani, it has been mentioned in the latter that the project is being launched with an objective to deliver knowledge in and about all languages in India using multimedia (i.e text, audio, video, images) formats through a portal (website). The content that is expected to feature in this all inclusive, interactive, dynamic and moderated proposed portal will include : works of Indian writers, government and non-government organizations, boards of education, textbook corporations, universities, publication houses and academies etc.
Earlier this week UGC Secretary has sent letters to the VCs of all university asking them to share digitized and non-digitized books and materials which are already available with them in various languages. Even the universities have been asked to share the names of institutions and individuals who could provide literature in various languages. Institutions and individuals willing to contribute till November 30 had to inform the UGC of what they can make available and till December 7 they are required to submit these materials.
As per the Census of India 2001, there are 122 scheduled and non-scheduled languages and 234 mother tongues. So in lieu of this UGC has especially requested for books in the available 22 scheduled languages. This initiative on part of UGC is to make India an open knowledge society, in the era of Digital India. This is just a start and in the near future, many other languages will be covered thereby one day covering all the languages in the country.
Another problem that might be a hurdle in this project is IP rights. No doubt several books, texts and other content will be freely published under creative commons but the question that arises is how the UGC will work around these issues. The reason is very obvious that the School textbooks, guide books, research theses etc., are all copyrightable in India. Even the translation of existing works is prohibited and is also entitled for copyright protection. Considering the IP rights, UGC will try to provide only the content under CC license, limiting the availability of regional textbooks and other educational materials on the platform.
Earlier in July 2014, UGC announced that it will launch an ‘Online students grievance redressal portal’ where students and the universities along with their affiliated colleges will be able to submit their grievances related to unfair practices, admissions and other issues to the UGC. The website was finally launched in March this year.