It may have started as a single-language site in 2001 - Wikipedia is now available in nearly 300 languages, and Punjabi is one of the fastest growing communities in terms of contributions to this online encyclopedia.
Katherine Maher, executive director of the US-based Wikimedia Foundation, which owns the world’s largest encyclopaedia, popularly known as Wikipedia, said this here on Friday.
She is in the city to attend the three-day Wiki Conference India 2016.
“Over 23,000 articles are available in Punjabi on Wikipedia and the contribution of the language is growing by 30% every year,” Maher said. “Punjabi is one of the most popular language and most active community on Wikipedia.”
Maher, who was on her first visit to India, said, “India is an incredibly hospitable country.”
She said, “Wikimedia is a non-profit organisation that helps in sharing knowledge that can be made accessible to masses through Wikipedia.”
‘Aim to promote Indian communities in their local languages’
“The foundation has set a mission to promote Indian communities in their local languages on Wikipedia,” added Katherine.
“Wikipedia was created in English. After 15 years, we are working in more than 300 languages. Of this, 20 are Indian regional languages. Today more than 85% of the articles are in languages other than English,” said Maher.
She said, “Regional languages help us in translating information.”
“People all over the world should have freedom to access information, and our community has pushed back on that whenever it has been challenged. We believe that Wikipedia should never be censured,” she added.
Wikimedia India signed a memorandum, of understanding (MoU) with Chandigarh Group of Colleges, Landran, which is hosting the conference, to develop digital content in Indian languages, which can be useful to school teachers and students.
Maher said, “A team of experts from Wikimedia Foundation will encourage students to contribute in the Wikipedia Education Program, during the Wiki Conference India 2016.”
Punjabi writer Surjit Patar said, “The vision of Wikimedia to promote Indian languages is remarkable as many regional languages are on the verge of extinction due to increased influence of English.”
“With the advent of technology like Wikipedia that makes information digitally available, the regional languages will get a major boost as the content published would be viewed and read globally,” he said.