World Hindi Secretariat Operates Out of the Box

* Successful Venture on Hindi ICT, E-Journalism and Blogging

By Sarita Boodhoo

When I proposed the setting up of the World Hindi Secretariat to the government way back in 1996 and which I did for the next four years and laid its foundation, little did I realise then that I would sixteen years later be one of its enthusiastic participants in a workshop on a subject that is indeed mindblowing : Hindi, the ICT and e-Journalism !

The World Hindi Secretariat at the behest of its new dynamic team in the persons of Mrs Poonam Juneja, Secretary General, and Gulshan Gangadhar Sooklall, her deputy, indeed has taken the bold initiative of operating and thinking out of the box. By conceiving and successfully organising a five-day workship preceeded by a one-day seminar from 23rd to 27th April last at the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre, Bell Village. The workshop was formally opened by the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Dr Vasant Bunwaree and closed by Dr Rajesh Jeetah, Minister of Tertiary Education. The Indian High Commission was represented by Mr Mimansak, Second Secretary.

A seminar and workshop on Hindi and ICT is in itself innovative and a breakthrough. It is well known that IT has transformed and revolutionised the planet. For any language to survive in the fierce linguistic competitive world, it has to move with the time. This is what the WHS has achieved ! Is it not a coincidence that it was on April Fool’s Day in 1976 that Mr Steve Jobs co-founded Apple with Mr Wozmiack in his parents’ garage? Mr Job’s love for typography and support for a variety of fonts led him to the successful creation of the Macintosh.

The World Hindi Secretariat has also created history in a sense. By launching its revolutionary project of bringing Hindi on board – that too on the computer keyboard for the rest of us, still groping with familiarizing ourselves with the roman fonts on our PC ! And that too in April. A month also designated as holding the World’s Book Day (23rd April) by the UNESCO.

If Mr Jobs is hailed as « a man ahead of his time » while at his first job at Apple, it was his apparent ease, elegance and simplicity which did the job, indeed the miracle for him. As he said « Technology alone is not enough », when he introduced the iPad2 in March 2011. He added, « It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing. » (The Economist, 8-14 October 2011).

I was indeed like the other participants awestruck at the beginning of the workshiop to enter such a technological world ! But amazingly, it was with the philosophy of Steve Jobs that our three dynamic IT « gurujis » (to use a traditional Mauritian term) led us with care and assurance through the frightening maze of laptops, wires and blogs ! It was undoubtedly in this spirit that I saw them operating throughout WHS’s seminar-cum-workshop, buzzing with humanity, art and technology!

The three young resource persons are themselves pioneers in the field of Hindi ICT and E-literary journalism. Mrs Poornima-Varman Saxena is the founder of the first Hindi weekly e-magazines anubhuti. Org and abhivyakti. Org, considered as milestones in E-Hindi literature, being published since 2000. She has a diploma in graphic designing and web-publishing. She has received many awards for her literary works including the « Pravasi Media Samman » by ICCR. She is based in Dubai.

As for Mr Balendu Dadhich, he is a well-known Indian technology activist and editor. A developer of software and web services,he has been a pioneer in the promotion and use of computers among Indian language users. He has promoted the Unicode and is editor of the Hindi portal ; he also sits on the committee set up by India’s Union Home Ministry to promote software development in Indian languages.

The other resource person Mr Lalit Kumar, an equally affable and keen person, ready to share his knowledge acquired from Delhi University, an MSc in Information Technology from the Karnataka State Open University, just as well as from an MSc in Bio Informatics from Heriot-Watt University in UK. He is a Gold Medalist in the 3-year software engineering programme from NIIT Limited – Lalit Kumar has worked on several projects with the UN as an IT Specialist.

He has also worked with the Medical Research Council’s Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh. Lalit Kumar is passionate about Web application development and Hindi literature and prose writing. He founded the on-line encyclopaedia of Hindi Literature — the Kavi Kosh in 2006. This website has become the largest collection of Hindi poetry and other Indian languages.

For one whole week, the hall of the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre turned into a practical workshop littered with endless wires, cords and laptops, reverberated with the eager voices of the excited learners : some 65 participants ranging from 79 years of age to a 19-year-old BA 1st year Hindi student. At times, the hall was plunged in an eerie silence, so engrossed was everybody surfing. The participants included top notch established veteran Hindi writers such as Ramdeo Dhurundhur, Raj Heeramun, Hemraj Soondur, lecturers and professors of Hindi from the MGI, teachers and inspectors of primary and secondary schools, officers from various Ministries, the MBC’s reporters, members of the Mauritius Arya Sabha, DAV College, the Mauritius Arya Ravived Pracharini Sabha, the Hindi Lekhak Sangh, the Hindi Speaking Union, the Indra Dhanush Sanskritic Parishad, Acharyas, Pandits and Panditas, local and foreign participants.

The young and IT savvy BA Hindi students of the MGI were indeed great facilitators for the seniormost participants who were still groping with their keyboards ! But at the end of the day, we all learnt how to create and write a blog, a website or go on twitter in Hindi. We managed to compose prose and poetry in Hindi and paste them on our proud and newly created blogs, e-newspaper, e-magazine and websites ! The MGI’s Bhojpuri Department even managed to create a Bhojpuri blog called Mori Bhojpuri. Mr Vinay Goodary, lecturer in Hindi at MGI also lectured on the need for modern technology in all spheres of Hindi.

Other projects of the World Hindi Secretariat in the pipeline are no less challenging: (1) an international Hindi blog writing competition; (2) a popular Hindi song project; (3) putting the Mauritian Hindi Literature on the « KaviKosh » within the next six months with the assistance of Mr Lalit Kumar.

The five-day workshop has given a broadbased visibility and marked presence of Hindi in the ICT, e-Journalism, e-Literature and social networking whether blogging, twitter or simple e-mailing, thanks to the courageous initiative of the World Hindi Secretariat. It should be noted that Hindi is the world’s second language and is on its way to become an official language of the United Nations.

* Published in print edition on 4 May 2012

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