Thursday, January 26, 2006

Republic Day wishes

Happy Republic Day!

Couple of videos for the day - Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram.

I read somewhere that Netaji Subhashchandra Bose had this very day in his mind as our Independence day. Azad Hind Sena celebrated 26 January 1943 thus in Germany.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Indibloggies contest and Internet in Indian languages

My blog on Marathi Literature was selected as the best Marathi blog in a contest organized by Indibloggies. I would like to thank all the readers and bloggers for visiting my blog and their comments.

When I started this blog, there were very few Marathi blogs and I was bit skeptical about the response my blog would muster. Another challenge was trying to avoid the monotony; which was bit difficult as the blog revolved around one subject. However, the response so far has taken me by surprise. It does not necessarily reflect on the quality of the blog, but I am glad that there are over 3600 pageloads now since I started keeping the track of visitors from Sept 2005. The major reason, I guess, is the exponential rise in the number of people writing in Marathi - from the handful of them few months back; the figure now stands around 200.

It augurs well for the digital revolution in regional languages. So far, English has been the lingua franca for Indian netizens; but slowly and surely there is rising a class which prefers to communicate in their respective mothertongues. It is bit cumbersome to type in Indian languages, as the fonts and/or keypads are not uniform; but despite that many are attempting to express themselves through the language they are most comfortable with. It is too early to say that the regional languages have made their presence felt online; but the progress is certainly in the right direction. When I was in Seoul few years back while coming to San Diego, I noticed that most of the computers in the airport terminal had Korean keyboards and people used them very comfortably. While it is difficult to envisage a Tamil or a Bengali keyboard in near future; it should not be very tough to have entire OS/softwares in them. Microsoft has come up with BhashaIndia project, but I think a lot more could be done in this regard.

I need not explain how knowledge will play the most important role in the future economic development. English, though it is rightfully considered as the window to knowledge, won't open very easily for a huge section of our populace that is first-generation school-goers. What better way to combine the most effective tool of information to deliver knowledge to them in their own language?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Goongy Gudiya and Ibsen

After the demise of Pt. Nehru, when Indira Gandhi took over the Congress Party; she was nick-named Goongy Gudiya (a dumb doll) by the party veterans; who thought that she would be just a puppet in their hands. It is a different story that the ensuing events proved their predictions miserably incorrect; but the analogy of Gudiya meaning a doll in Hindi was quite apt.

Few years ago, I happened to read a translated version of Ibsen's ground-breaking play called 'A doll's house' (written some 125 years ago). The protagonist, Nora, leaves her husband who treats her like a doll rather than a person with emotions and begins her quest for her true self.

If you are following the recent news of sad demise of Gudiya; you will get the connection. Much has been written about state of women in India, the panchayat (village counsel) system of justice and lately the media hype surrounding the whole incident; so it will be mere repetition if I write more about that here. However, couple of points are worth pondering. First of all, you can clearly see the print media denouncing the electronic media for cheap journalism. Though the allegations are substantially correct; to me the apparent divide between the two and the effort to try claiming the high ground appears as a form of survival attempt. The other thing is all media provides fodder to any minor controversy/small event, makes every attempt to make an Everest out of mole-hill and in the end blames the outcome such as in this case on the hype without the slightest hint of acknowledging the apparent hypocrisy.