NEW DELHI: Bangladesh Supreme Court on Thursday inaugurated an ‘Amar Vasha‘ software to translate court orders and judgments from English into Bangla. The software, developed by Ek Step Foundation of India, is being used by India’s Supreme Court and 18 high courts, to translate judgments into Indic languages.
Speaking to TOI, Vikram Doraiswami, Indian high commissioner to Dhaka said, “The development of this specially-customised translation software is a recognition of the unique strengths of our partnership: only India and Bangladesh could have worked together on such a Bangla translation software, since Bangla is equally our shared heritage.”
‘Ekushey‘ this year has been special for Bangladesh and India. ‘Ekushey’ is celebrated on February 21 as international mother language day, commemorates the day in 1952 when students of Dhaka University started a nationwide protest against the imposition of Urdu on the then East Pakistan. It is a defining moment for the liberation struggle for Bangladesh.
It was in 2019 that President Ram Nath Kovind asked the Indian Supreme Court to translate their orders into Indian languages, since most Indians don’t know English enough to understand them. Anuvaad.org, funded by Ek Step Foundation stepped in. Originally set up to create deep learning modules in Indic languages in the education space, they were able to customise the software for the Supreme Court, which now includes 18 High Courts translating orders and documents into nine languages.
“This is a deep learning software,” said Vivek Raghavan of Ek Step. “It takes about 15 seconds to translate one page.” Since it is a machine learning software, it doesn’t make the same mistake twice, so it learns on the go, on every correction.
In November 2020, Doraiswami said, Sheikh Hasina had spoken to Narendra Modi about helping Bangladesh on this front. Ek Step was brought in, which developed a customised software for Bangladesh.
“This was necessary because there are subtle differences between the Bangla spoken in India and Bangladesh. Those differences were incorporated.” Doraiswami said.
“The AI models were retrained and the legal glossaries updated to better match the language and style of judicial documents in Bangladesh,” Raghavan said.
The initiative picked up speed when the new Indian envoy called on the Chief Justice of the Bangladesh Supreme Court, Syed Mahmud Hossain, who repeated the Bangladesh request.
This software was unveiled on Thursday by the Chief Justice, Bangladesh law minister Anisul Huq, Law and Justice Division Secretary Md Golam Sarwar and Doraiswami.
The first judgment that was translated was a 1969 judgment by the East Pakistan High court which acquitted Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, a translation completed in under three minutes.