After moving to big cities, some preserve their culture through
Wikipedia entries written in regional languages.
When Subhashish Panigrahi moved to Bangalore, far from his
hometown in Odisha in eastern India, it was Wikipedia that helped
him keep in touch with his roots. He started writing articles on
the arts, literature, food, and even tourist attractions in his
home region on Odia Wikipedia, “odia” being the local language.
Ditto for Bala Sundara Raman, from a southern Indian town,
and his contribution to Tamil Wikipedia.
Mr. Panigrahi and Mr. Raman are a small part of a community of
Indian “Wikipedians” who are using the website to document their
culture. As they live in cities and work at jobs that require them
to speak English, Wikipedia keeps them connected to their first
Wikipedians, all volunteers, also work to spread technical and
scientific knowledge beyond the English-savvy minority of Internet
users in India. Panigrahi recently joined the Wikimedia Foundation
in New Delhi, the first Wikipedia office outside the United
States, set up with the aim of increasing the quality and quantity
of regional language content.
“This is much better than blogging,” says Panigrahi. “Everything
is teamwork, and I have been able to encourage other young Odias
to pitch in with their efforts.”
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