निज भाषा उन्नति अहै, सब उन्नति को मूल।
बिनु निज भाषा-ज्ञान के, मिटत न हिय को सूल॥
“Own language stands for advancement, it is the basis for all progress. Heartache can’t be erased, without knowledge of own language.”
The above lines by the father of modern Hindi literature Bhartendu Harishcandra is just one example of great leaders all over the world emphasizing the importance of one’s native language, and yet, think of the last time that you read a story, a poem or a book in your native language, chances are that it was a long time back, isn’t it?
I am a voracious reader, I read across genres, across disciplines and yet for past few years I’ve read ‘almost’ exclusively in English, and ‘almost’ exclusively foreign writers. The primary reason simply being that English content has much better accessibility.
Almost all of the classic English literature and majority of contemporary English literature is readily available on platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, Oyster, Kobo, Wattpad et al. You can also use Goodreads and Library things kind of platforms to decide what books you want to read. But can the same truly be said about vernacular literature? People like you and me are still lucky that we can read English, think of around 600 million Indians who are literate but who don’t know English. Oh, btw do you know that around 45 million Indians access internet in their local/native language. But these 45 million Indians, as well as people like you and me do not really have much of a choice with regards to Vernacular language content.
To solve this pain-point for us and to increase accessibility to Indian literature we are working on our platform Pratilipi – You become what you read. We have launched our early beta with two languages(Hindi+Gujarati) last week (14’th Sept, Hindi Diwas) and the response till now has been encouraging. We already have 15000+ page visits in the last 7 days. We have got 117 authors on-board with us, including some who have won Sahitya Academy Award, Padma Shree Award and some of the other highest civil honors in India. Our website link has been shared 795 times on facebook, and we have got 411 subscribers.
A big reason for us being able to get a good start was that we got a lot of support from a lot of people(including many rodinhooders), special thanks to Alok sir(who played a devil’s advocate and that compelled us to work harder and prove him wrong).
We do understand it’s just an early beta and there is a long way to go, but we do want to travel all the way so please have a look at Pratilipi.com and let me know your feedback(good/bad/ugly).
Overwhelmed by the awesome community support, both here at Rodinhoods and in general, hope to see most of you at the Bangalore Open-House,
P.S. Below is a video that we made before our beta launch as a teaser video 🙂