By Ashok Kumar
Sydney 18 Sept : It is said the Indians where ever they are cannot get out of Hindi and keep making efforts to keep the language alive. One such effort was made yesterday by Indian Literary and Arts Society of Australia (ILASA) in association with the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan and supported by The Consulate General of India, Sydney when it organised a Hindi Sammelan (Seminar) on the occasion of Hindi Divas, the day when Hindi was declared India’s official language. The brain behind the event, Rekha Rajvanshi is a tutor at the Centre for Continuing Education (CCE), Sydney University that had offered the venue for free.
Modern Standard Hindi or simply Hindi is a standardised and Sanskritised register of the Hindustani language. Hindi is one of the official languages of India, and the lingua franca of the Hindi belt languages.
The day started with the traditional lamp lighting by Consul General of India H.E Mr. B Vanlalvawna Chair of Multicultural NSW, Dr. G K Harinath and other luminaries who graced the occasion.
It was great to hear Consul General Mr. Vanlalvawna making an effort to address the audience in pure Hindi. And so was Dr. Harinath addressing the audience extempore in Hindi. Minister for Multiculturalism Hon. Mr. John Ajaka sent their best wishes for the success of the seminar. Hon MP Ms. Jody McKay also congratulated the organisers for holding such a wonderful event. Hornsby Councillor Mr. Gurdeep Singh made it a point to convey his best wishes in Hindi and Strathfield Councillor, Mr. Raj Dutta also addressed the gathering.
The keynote speaker Sheba Nandkeolyar, National Chair of Australia Indian Business Council and CEO of Multiconnexions, Australia and Board Member, Australia India Council and Board Member, International Advertising Association, gave a background of the Indian economy and trade. Sheba said the introduction of GST will take the economy to greater heights.
As far as the bilateral trade was concerned she said when we talk of trade all eyes are on the big cities where as in India manufacturing happens in smaller areas. The Australians in order to reap the benefits of trade must learn Hindi. She gave the example of the Americans businessmen learning Hindi to facilitate good business relations. Even Hillary and Bill Clinton used to speak at preliminary Hindi. Sheba directed Australian businessmen to Mala Mehta and Indian Consulate to learn Hindi.
Sheba tried to make her speech interactive by asking the gathering like how long was the history of Hindi? And when did the Aryans migrate to India? Well, there were different answers to these but she clarified that there are about 490 million people who speak Hindi. She also revealed that in Australia the highest grossing films are Indian or Bollywood films. No doubt, media and entertainment plays a greater role in promoting Hindi.
Hindi education at University level in Australia section was, chaired by Ian Woolford, lecturer in La Trobe University, Melbourne recited, in fluent Hindi, a poem. Meena Srinivasan of Sydney University talked about the difference between the Hindi that is taught in schools here and the spoken Hindi and where we fail to deliver. She gave a simple example of how thank you is expressed in different area of India as in some areas it is mixed with Urdu words and in south India it is more in pure Hindi. She said if we use common Hindi we can keep the students in a class together and growing. Mark Allon, Lecturer in Sanskrit, University of Sydney narrated his experiences about teaching Sanskrit.
Neena Badhwar, CCE Sydney University churned out statistics of Hindi language teaching, While Rekha Rajvanshi , organiser of event, narrated the event a poem to depict the success with learning Hindi and David Townsend and Tammy Bartia gave their account of learning Hindi. Associate professor Kama Maclean of the UNSW, Sydney gave her experiences in learning Hindi 20 years ago and forgetting the language and learning again.
Mala Mehta of the IABBV narrated her efforts of evolving teaching Hindi in schools in NSW and how she started her Hindi school nearly 30 years ago and her efforts to bring Hindi in School curriculum in NSW. Darcy Road Public School will be the sixth school in NSW to teach Hindi. However, despite her efforts NSW still lags behind Victoria where nine schools teach Hindi.
The third session ‘Engaging Community through Hindi Media, chaired by Anita Barar, coming all the way from Melbourne, of the SBS Radio Melbourne showed how clips of her documentaries in Hindi connected with the community. Addressing the gathering, Dr. Yadu Singh, a cardiologist and a Hindi lover revealed how he involved his children to speak Hindi at home and why he opted for Sanskrit in his High School along with Hindi. Pallavi Jain, also of the SBS, stressed upon the need to speak Hindi at home to keep the language alive.
A very important topic of translation and interpretation chaired by Neena Sinha in which Rekha Rajvanshi screened her award winning Aboriginal animation film, that she translated into Hindi for which filmmaker Anupam Sharma did the voice over. There were some hilarious moments when speakers shared their experiences they faced while translating or interpreting. Hindi at school level was chaired by Gunjan Tripathi and participated by Archana Chaudhary, the first Hindi teacher, West Ryde Public School, Kulwindar Kaaur, M.K.Singh, Kogarah Hindi school, Aakash Prasad and Vandana Gupta of Green Valley Language and Arts School and other teachers. The last session was chaired by Dr. Shailja Chaturvedi, community worker and Psychiatrist and the panel consisted of writer Santram Bajaj, Rajiv Kapoor, and young poet Gaurav Kapoor. They spoke on subjects like Hindi aur Yatharth, Bollywood lyrics promoting Hindi and bhaktikaleen kavi and chhayawad Kavi.
The MCs Sanghmitra Kumar, who has done a few Bollywood movies and David Townsend did a fabulous job in keeping the audience spellbound and there was great help from Neeru Saluja , Manish Rana, Pooja and Vidit Tyagi and Jyoti Dixit. Sumptuous lunch was prepared and served by the Gold Licence caterer Surjit Restaurant. It will not out of place to mention that Rekha apart from being fabulous even organiser and who was known as a poet is also a teacher for the last 16 years and has 6 published books to her credit. David Townsend and Tammy Bartia, film actress, are her students who displayed their Hindi speaking abilities.
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