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Bring the world of Bangla Blogs to GV

Categories: South Asia, Bangladesh, India, Citizen Media, Development, Humanitarian Response, Politics, Sport

Bangla [1] or the Bengali language is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world today. It is the official language in Bangladesh and one of the official languages in India, where it is the second most commonly spoken language after Hindi. In India, Bangla is mainly spoken across the states of West Bengal and Tripura.

Bangla has various dialects, depending on the region where it is spoken. For example, the Bangla spoken/written in Dhaka, Bangladesh would be slightly different from the way it is spoken/written across in Kolkata, India. Nevertheless this does not prevent from people from understanding each other and there has always been creative exchange across the Bengal borders. Further details about the language and its various dialects can be found here [2].

Bengali bloggers from across the globe have been trying for quite some time to run blogs in their mother tongue. Initially however, they were stonewalled by the difficulties of reading and writing the Bangla script online. Not to be discouraged, some bloggers began writing by typing Bangla words in the English script, as can be seen in this case [3].

Needless to say, Bangla blogs have come a long way since then. Today, it is possible to write in Bangla script, using the regular English keyboard. With many of the current browsers supporting Unicode, the easy availability of Bangla software and fonts, more people (Indians and Bangladeshis) are beginning to blog regularly in Bangla. Here is an example [4]of the switchover (where the same post has been typed both in the English and Bangla script for easy reading). Soon however, the need to write in English font lessened as writing in Bangla became easier and more widely prevalent. Further details on how to read and write Bangla scripts are available here [5].

The real push for Bangla blogging however, came from Bangladesh on December 16, 2005 when somewhere in… [6], a Norwegian software company based in Dhaka, launched a new blogging platform in Bangla at somewhereinblog.net [7]. In a way this marked the true birth of the Bangla blogosphere as it helped create a vibrant, interactive community, where people could reach out and share their thoughts and feelings on varied topics and issues. Since its launch, the site has been inundated with posts, hits and its family of Bangla bloggers continues to grow every day. Despite the grouse that the site is not Unicode compliant, the popularity of the site can be gauged from the fact that it sees about 12,000 page hits per day and is likely to reach over 2 million hits within 6 months of release.

Currently, blogging platforms like Blogger [8] and WordPress [9] also allow for blogging in Bangla and therefore, soon we are likely to see much more activity in the Bangla blogosphere.

From now on, we will be bringing snapshots from the Bangla blog world to you at Global Voices Online, covering both Indian and Bangladeshi blogs. While the posts here will be English, the links however will point to blogs written in the Bangla font. To be able to read the blogs, a Unicode enabled browser along with compatible Bangla fonts will be required.

Buzz from the Bangla blog world

Let me begin with some exciting ICT related news from Bangladesh, Shohag Bhuiyan [10]tells us how eagerly the people had been waiting to be linked to the global information superhighway via the submarine cable technology, launched in the country on May 21, 2006.

In India, the proposed reservation bill is currently a sizzling topic. The heat can be felt all the way from West Bengal – where The Hidden God [11] raises some questions pertaining to the reservation debate, to as far as UK where Arijit [12] does the same.

The other topic buzzing around the globe (no, I don’t mean the DaVinci Code) is of course the Football World Cup. Everyone is waiting for the tournament to begin, with bated breath. T-shirts and other accessories, bearing team names are doing brisk business. According to an opinion poll conducted on Trivuz’s blog [13], Brazil and Argentina seem to be the hot favourites. Who are you rooting for?

Nowadays blogger meets are quite common. Most of these get-togethers are fun-filled events, the objective being to get to know the people behind the blogs and also discuss various issues. On 5th June, Dhaka saw a blogger meet with a difference [14]– when Praapti [15], a child, less than 3years of age inspired a group of bloggers to visit her at her residence for a humanitarian cause.