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IIT KGP has joined hands with National Council of Science Museums and IIT Gandhinagar to develop Gandhipedia, a one-stop portal for browsing Gandhian literature, life-events and his social network.

The phase I of the project will involve digitization and indexing of 40+ books of the M K Gandhi which will be released and searchable on the portal. The books will be further used to reconstruct the social network of the Mahatma including his influencers and people whom he inspired. 

“We will initially use his book  ‘My Experiments with Truth’ for reconstructing the social network. This work would require AI-enabled tools to read the indexed and digitized version. The results will be visualized by the modern powerful network visualization tools and a dashboard of network statistics,” said Prof. Animesh Mukherjee from IIT Kharagpur’s Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering who is leading the project. 

The first phase will also involve the launching of social bots on Twitter that can regularly post text excerpts from Gandhiji’s works and observe how these posts spread over social media.

“There will be two types of bots — (a) event agnostic and (b) event specific bots. In the event-specific case, as a first pilot we shall consider a crisis event and try to check whether the social bots are able to reduce the spread of hatred, fear and trauma among the public by injecting positive and motivating thoughts from the writings of the Mahatma,” Mukherjee explained.

The phase I is expected to be completed by March 2020. It will be followed by four more phases continuing year-wise till March 2024. These phases would involve increasing the number of digitized publications by processing 100 volumes of collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, each volume containing several letters, speeches, etc. and further scaling up the social network construct for all of these hundred books. 

The researchers, which include Prof. Mayank Singh and Prof. T S Kumbar from IIT Gandhinagar, are aiming to launch social bots that can post Gandhian text excerpts in multiple Indian languages namely Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, and Tamil on Twitter. This would need Indian language translation technologies for obtaining high-quality translations of the Gandhian excerpts.

“We hope to include research work on Gandhiji which are otherwise not referred to in popular Gandhian literature. The aim is to create a system that can be used by any age-group for understanding the life-events of Mahatma. It might present some very interesting serendipitous relations among different personalities, which are otherwise not yet explored/studied,” remarked Dr. Singh.”

In the later phases of the project, the researchers have plans to include similar digitized works (books, writings, thesis, chapters etc.) of other freedom fighters to mark the 75th year of independence. This would include eminent freedom fighters/leaders i.e. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh. Similar social networks like Gandhiji shall be built for these freedom fighters to visualize the spatio-temporal dynamics of their relationships with different people over their lifetime.

“Gandhipedia will reinforce learning from unbiased and un-opinionated real-time insights easily about Gandhian values which are uplifting, motivating, revolutionizing and tailored to the needs of the browser. Interactive conversation assistance will certainly add value and enable youth and people to rethink and take action on Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy, life and thoughts,” said Dr Shobhana Radhakrishna, Chief Functionary at Gandhian Forum for Ethical Corporate Governance.

Graphics : Suman Sutradhar

By Shreyoshi Ghosh


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