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This Multilingual Edit-a-thon wants to Improve Indian Content on Wikipedia

Posted by Subhashish Panigrahi at Jan 27, 2016 04:25 PM |
Ever wondered how many articles the Kannada Wikipedia or the Hindi Wikipedia have relating to India, its social history, literary and cultural heritage and the journey of over 1600 languages?


The article was published in DNA on January 26, 2016.

India has over 235 Geographical Indications (GI) spread over the length and breadth of the 29 states and 7 union territories. GI identifies goods or products as originating in a region or locality and indicates the unique characteristic or particular qualities it has as a result of being made in that area. Out of India's 235 GI, as identified by the Geographical Indications Registry of the Government of India, there exist only about 70 English Wikipedia entries. The state of many Indian language Wikipedias is even worse where a vast majority of the identified GIs and other important topics related to art, craft, cuisine, culture, attire and tradition are missing from Wikipedia. Even Karnataka, which has the maximum number of GIs at 30, has only a handful of articles and a few images on Wikipedia.

This Republic Day, 75 Wikipedia editors who are volunteers and represent 18 Indic languages are coming together online to show their patriotism in a unique way. It is not by hoisting the tri-colour and talking about India's glorious past, but by enhancing Wikipedia content related to the GIs of India in their own languages. Those who are multilingual are even going to create Wikipedia articles in two or three different languages. The multilingual edit-a-thon started on January 25 and will go on until January 31. The event is focused on improving existing Wikipedia content related to GIs of India, translating them into Indic languages and also creating new articles. Being an online event, it has also opened up the door to many contributors outside India. A few participants from Nepal and Bangladesh have signed up for the event.

So little of the great journey of our products with unique quality is available in the public domain. The saddest part is that there is literally a bottom level existence for content related to Indian GIs on Wikipedia, the world's largest online encyclopedia, which is often the first link a web search throws up. This sort of lack of access to knowledge related to India is not new. Even outside of Wikipedia, there is very less that exists about the many stories worth telling from our country. However, crying over the low access to knowledge would never solve the real problem.

This edit-a-thon is just a digital experiment but can be a great way of doing digital activism for the preservation of languages and taking the uniqueness of India to millions of people in their own languages.