The Hindi speaking region is second to none in exploiting the possibilities offered by the virtual world in terms of blogs, e-magazines and portals besides users taking to free expression of thoughts and ideas in popular social media sites.
Gone are the days when people living in villages and small towns of the Hindi region were cut-off from the rest of the world and depended primarily on radio and newspapers to know what was happening elsewhere. The advent of the Internet, mobile phones, smart phones, tablets and such other gadgets has revolutionised their lives. The communication revolution has not passed them by and they are making full use of the ever-advancing technology with great élan and enviable penchant. Some of the States in the sprawling Hindi region may still be dubbed as BIMARU (sick) on account of their social and economic indicators but they are second to none in terms of exploiting the possibilities offered by the virtual world to the fullest extent.
Although there is no conclusive data available, but, according to an informed guess, there are nearly 15,000 blogs, e-magazines, portals and websites in Hindi. Social media sites such as Facebook are being increasingly used by tens of thousands of Hindi-speaking and Hindi-writing enthusiasts. It has imparted a tremendous boost to people’s creativity and the virtual space is witnessing a virtual explosion of free expression. Earlier, only a few could get access to the newspaper columns or pages of literary magazines. Only such fortunate ones had the opportunity to express themselves in newspapers or literary journals. Of them, even fewer got a chance to publish their books.
This is no longer the case. There are many e-magazines devoted to serious literature, offering many times more avenues to people who want to place their poems, short stories, critical essays or even novels in the public domain. While there are many personal blogs, there are blogs devoted to a particular social cause or issue or a field of creative activity such as films or classical music or film music. There are many websites devoted to the world of Hindi media and they offer the latest news of who is joining where and who is being sacked or promoted. In addition to informing their readers about the current happenings, they also comment on undesirable practices making inroads into the mushrooming media organisations, especially those related to the electronic media. The quality of these blogs, social media sites, e-magazines, portals and websites is naturally uneven and frequently gossip is peddled as authentic information, personal scores are settled in the garb of fighting a principled battle and limits of decency are crossed. But such risks are unavoidable if one looks at the phenomenal expansion and spread of the virtual space and innovative ways of using it.
A noteworthy trend is the interface between the real media and the neo-media.
For example, leading Hindi daily Jansatta publishes an entry from some blog or the other on its editorial page and invites bloggers to send their writings for publication. It duly mentions the name of the writer as well as of the blog. For some time, another prominent daily Hindustan published a column exclusively devoted to discussing what was happening in the world of the Hindi blogs. Many bloggers say that their writings regularly find a place in many small and medium regional newspapers that give them credit by way of bylines but generally do not mention the name of the blog. As small newspapers lack financial resources and are seldom in a position to pay to contributors, blogs come as a great help to them as they offer a vast range of articles, satirical pieces and critical comments to choose from, and the writers do not have to be paid.
There are several websites exclusively devoted to Hindi and Urdu (written in Devnagari script) literature and disseminating works of well-known writers, thus serving a valuable social cause.
Many of these works are out of print and unavailable to those who would like to buy them. Therefore, such websites are performing the task of preserving the literary heritage of Hindi and Urdu and keeping it alive by making it accessible to the readers.
They are, as it were, expanding the Hindi public sphere in a very significant sense.