Looking for a Hindi or Tamil search engine?

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Ranvir Prasad browsing a text using his search engine
Ranvir Prasad browsing a text using his search engine

Ramya Kannan

From a personal tool, chhotugoogle has entered the public domain

CHENNAI: Are you more comfortable with Hindi or Tamil than with English? Are you looking for a search engine that is not English-oriented?

Your prayers have just been answered. With, a site affiliated to Google only in as much as the creator has used Google APIs and transliteration javascript to the convert English font to the appropriate language font. For instance, if you are hunting for Bharathiyar’s poems, all you have to do is type in English the words ‘Bharathiyar Kavithaigal.’ Tapping the space bar after each word converts it to the Tamil font. Hit ‘enter’ and the search engine powered by Google will trawl the net and throw up a treasure trove of Tamil sites featuring search content. Likewise, for Hindi.

Primary purpose

Though it serves the needs of the poetically-inclined very well, Chhotugoogle was originally intended, believe it or not, to help the creator’s wife browse official Hindi documents online. The creator Ranvir Prasad, an IAS officer currently posted as District Magistrate, Sant Kabir Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, says as much.

His wife Selvakumari, also an IAS officer in U.P but hailing from Tamil Nadu, was trying to get her way around administrative Hindi. Most of the documents in the State available online are in Hindi. “She felt that if there was a search portal to look for Hindi documents on government websites, it would be useful. That’s when I threw together Google APIs for search and transliteration along with some javascripts for conversion of fonts to assemble the site,” Mr. Prasad explains.

It seems to be an all-family affair with his sister, Rambha Kumari, also pitching in. She provided suggestions and inputs and also bought the domain on which Chhotugoogle now rests. “I put together this website during my free time. The idea was mainly to bring into the open a large number of webpages in Tamil and Hindi that were hidden from the public view, as they are not reflected in conventional searches. There are some sites where you could search in languages like Hindi/Tamil but you cannot search for documents in other fonts like Bamini (Tamil) and Kruti Dev (Hindi). This, to me, seemed a great handicap.”

He continues: “For example in Uttar Pradesh, most of the documents on government sites are in Kruti Dev 010 font and there was no means of searching for any term within those documents. Now anyone can search using, as information for the public, including details under the Right to Information Act and Below the Poverty Line listings, is available in these fonts.”

On Chhotugoogle, you can search for Hindi documents in the Unicode and Kruti Dev fonts; and Tamil documents in the Unicode and Bamini fonts. No, you do not need to know how to type in these fonts, thanks to automatic transliteration, says Mr. Prasad, a B.Tech from IIT Kanpur. He worked for a short while in a software/hardware firm before he joined the services as officer in the Tamil Nadu cadre in 2000.

More work to be done

Currently, the site hosts only a search feature. Much more remains to be done on the site, according to its creator. “An interesting addition will be a directory of good websites in Hindi/Tamil. I am planning to add more languages and fonts based on feedback. I am thinking of putting in a typepad with spell check and dictionary support,” Mr. Prasad says.

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