The idea of National Translation Mission (NTM) came originally from Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India. In the first meeting of the National Knowledge Commission (NKC), he mentioned how it was vital to access translated materials for increasing access to knowledge in many critical areas and broadening and strengthening people’s participation in education and continuous learning. The Commission chaired by Sri Sam Pitroda took note of the suggestion and felt the 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 has been an ongoing process in India, 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. 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.

The awareness of creating a knowledge society by means of translation and development of human resources prompted the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) to form a working group led by Dr. Jayati Ghosh that would bring together different agencies and people involved in the activity of translation, its promotion, 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 translation activities in India. As the group began meeting in Delhi in February 2006, the broad contours of the field were outlined by Prof. Udaya Narayana Singh, the then Director, Central Institute of Indian Languages.
Report of Working group for the 12th five year plan for NTM.