The Context

The idea of the National Translation Mission (NTM) came originally from the Prime Minister of India, who in the first meeting of the National Knowledge Commission (NKC), said how vital access to translated material means increasing access to knowledge in many critical areas. Broadening and strengthening people’s participation in education and continuous learning was the context. The Commission chaired by Sri Sam Pitroda felt immediate need to have a separate institution or mission to promote the cause of translation for education in India.

While it is true that translation is an ongoing process, the need for productive public intervention in this key area comes primarily from the unevenness in the translation activity in the country – unevenness in terms of disciplines as well as languages and also that of quality, distribution and access. There is an unrecognized demand for translation in diverse existing and emerging domains like literature, pure sciences, applied sciences, social sciences, law, medicine, management, technology and more.

Further, the information available through translation is inadequate and asymmetric. The dissemination of translation is also unsatisfactory as the target readership is highly diffused and uncoordinated and the market reach of translation is seldom assessed and ensured. Only the proper dissemination of quality translations can create a benchmark and provide proper impetus to the private ongoing activity in the area. This is the context that demands public intervention in the mission mode, in the form of a set of measures that can kick-start a process of encouraging private initiatives to make feasible the availability of high quality translation in different disciplines. Translation activities can also generate direct and indirect employment, thus encouraging the educated unemployed to serve the people while finding a remunerative profession for themselves.

It was this awareness that prompted the NKC to form a working group led by Prof. Jayati Ghosh that would bring together different agencies and people involved in the activity of translation, its publication and dissemination. The working group included representatives from the relevant government and semi-government organisations, academics, linguists, translators, educationists, publishers and others associated with the translation activities in India. As the groups began meeting in Delhi in February, 2006, the broad contours of the field were outlined by Prof. Udaya Narayana Singh. On March 6, 2006, Prof. Jayati Ghosh, Member-Convenor NTM Committee, wrote to the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, forwarding the recommendations of the NKC and the revised proposal to the Commission. Thereafter, the groups met several times and had a large scale two–day workshops held at the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore on 12-13 April, 2007. On April 19, 2006, the revised proposal was commented upon by the Planning Commission, vide its letter no. P.11060/4/2005-Edn raising a set of five queries, which were responded to. Meanwhile, some detailed comments were received from several Social Science experts,especially from the Centre for the Studies of Developing Societies (CSDS), and other institutions such as Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR). These raised several issues and gave creative suggestions as to the scope and organisation of the NTM, some of which are being incorporated into this detailed project report. On June 21 and July 3, 2006, suggestions from many publishing houses, involved in translation, were also received. Later, on 31st August, 2006, the Ministry of HRD’s Working Group on Languages and Book Promotion also endorsed the idea vide its recommendations for the XIth Plan to the Planning Commission. Subsequently, on September 1, 2006, Shri Sam Pitroda, Chairman, NKC wrote to the Prime Minister giving details of the NTM after which, a detailed proposal was formulated by the Ministry of HRD.