A new visitor has just entered the buzzing, English-dominated world of the Internet: Hindi blogs.
Thousands of bloggers are engaged in furious debate, satire, their life stories, film, social issues and the environment – all on Hindi blogs. As things stand, there are over 500 Hindi blogs with new ones being created every day. Avinash Das who runs a blog called Mohalla estimates that put together Hindi blogs get 10,000 hits a day.
“Hindi-speaking users have not been able to make the greatest use of technology tools like the Internet, which is nearly monopolised by the English language,” said Das. “But all that is changing.”
And how. From astrology to technology, the chatter is only growing louder. Pramod Singh runs the blog Cilema on films. Gyandutt Pandey has a blog on water issues. Ravi Ratlami helps Hindi-speaking users understand technology better. Pramod Kumar is writing a blog novel on the imaginary future life of another blogger. Sarvesh Tiwari runs Bhavishya, a blog on astrology.
“Hindi blogs are maturing now. People are talking, debating and criticising. It started late, but a lot is happening,” said Ravi Kant of the media studies group Sarai, which is conducting two studies on Hindi blogs.
Software issues have been nearly resolved. Academic research is underway on Unicode, a popular font that runs in different operating systems. Some problems remain: matras are clunky and the text sometimes does not flow smoothly. But that has not dented enthusiasm.
“Ever since the blogs started, I write on myself and everyone else, everyday. It is as if I have started thinking I am Muktibodh or Mohan Rakesh,” said blogger Ravish Kumar, referring to icons of Hindi literature.
“If Premchand had a blog, wouldn’t he have written thousands of stories? And his readers wouldn’t have waited years to read them,” said Kumar, whose blog Naisadak features satirical commentary on themes ranging from Dalits to the state of journalism.
Several Non Resident Indians –Sunil Deepak from Bologna, Italy, and Vijay Wadnere from Singapore -- also run blogs, keen remain in touch with Hindi. And women are blogging too; one of the most popular is the 50-plus Ghughuti Basuti who runs an eponymous blog.
“The language is informal, irreverent and clever. It is like what happened centuries ago, when the rigid world of Sanskrit literature was transformed by the freewheeling Bhakti movement,” said Das of Mohalla.