There are 48,000 Sanskrit-speaking people in the country (as per the 2011 Census report) but there are nearly 10,000 articles in that language on Wikipedia. However, consider that there are nearly 6 crore Kannadigas, but only 14,500 Kannada entries on Wikipedia.
It took the Kannada Wikipedia 10 years to reach this figure, after its inception in June 2003, which is indicative of the Kannadiga apathy to contribute, edit and publish Kannada content in the free encyclopaedia. In a step to reverse this situation, a workshop on generating content for Wikipedia in Kannada was organised by the Centre for Proficiency Development Placement Services, University of Mysore and Centre for Internet Society, Bangalore (CIS), here on Tuesday.
The number of Kannada entries or articles on Wikipedia is in contrast to 4 million-plus English articles. Among Indian languages Hindi has prime position with nearly 1 lakh articles.
U.B. Pavanaja of CIS, Bangalore, who describes himself as an ‘Indian language computing enthusiast’, said the growth and evolution of Kannada hinges on its use and adaptation in the realm of science, technology, commerce, law and medicine. “People want information in the realm of current affairs and non-fiction, but it is not available in Kannada. It is for you and me to bring it to them.”
“Kannada’s growth does not hinge on the works of Pampa, Ponna and Ranna but in its [Kannada’s] use and application in daily life and in the marketplace. But Kannada litterateurs and protagonists are not contributing to it and suffer from technophobia,” said Dr. Pavanaja who described Wikipedia as one of the outlets for Kannada to grow and evolve and bring the world to the people in that language.
It was pointed out that there were nearly 3 crore Indians who access Wikipedia regularly, of whom only 5,500 contribute to enrich it. Of them 2,000 write in Indian languages of whom only 360 are Kannada contributors. But even here, there are about 38 active editors and only 4 of them are active editors who edit or contribute more than 100 articles a month in Kannada, according to Pavanaja. For the record, two of the four active editors are senior citizens.
Niranjan Vanalli, Director, CPDPS, described the workshop as “a significant milestone” which would go a long way in enriching Kannada content on Wikipedia. P. Nagabhushan, HoD of Computer Sciences, University of Mysore, inaugurated the workshop and said Wikipedia could facilitate the growth of Kannada in this digital era. Nearly 50 participants took part in the workshop.