As the great Indian summer sets in and the carnival chatter of elections envelops the air, the US is determined to leave the chill in bilateral ties behind through a public diplomacy outreach in the form of a Hindi website of its embassy in New Delhi.
The Hindi website of the US embassy (http://hindi.newdelhi.usembassy.gov/) was launched by US ambassador to India Nancy Powell at an elegant function April 3 in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi.
The launch of the US embassy’s website in Hindi is “another step forward towards linking us even deeper to India’s cultural heritage,” said Powell, the US first female ambassador to India. “Bharat aur America ka bhawishya ujjwal hai (The future of India and the US is bright),” said Powell in a thick American-accented Hindi that chimed well with the occasion.
“This launch reflects still another way in which the United States is making efforts to deepen connections with the people of India,” said Walter Douglas, Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs at the US embassy.
Surprisingly, in a country where Hindi is spoken and understood by over 500 million people, which is nearly equal to the population of Europe and the US combined, the US embassy is the first foreign mission in India to launch a portal in Hindi. The US initiative perhaps will be followed by other embassies in New Delhi which seeks to reach out to the mammoth Hindi-speaking population across this polyphonous country speaking over a thousand languages and dialects. Fittingly, the US embassy had invited Mrinal Pande, famous writer, journalist and chairperson of Prasar Bharati, to be the chief guest for the inaugural function. Tracing the history of the Hindi language in India over the centuries, Pande commended the US embassy on its pioneering initiative to connect to the burgeoning Hindi heartland of the country.
The embassy has been working on the Hindi version of its website for almost a year, and it reflected in a meticulous attention to details and an appealing visual layout of the portal. It remains a work in progress, with the embassy open to feedback and suggestions. The US Mission has also a Twitter handle in Hindi @USAHindiMein. Span Hindi magazine has also launched a web portal in Hindi — http://span.state.gov/hi.
The India-US relations were transformed by a trailblazing nuclear deal in the summer of 2005, but remain vulnerable to scepticism and intermittent hostile criticism. The India-US relations, glowingly described by US President Barack Obama as “the defining partnership of the 21st century,” took a sharp downturn in the last few months over the arrest and alleged ill-treatment of India’s then deputy consul-general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, in December last year. Mercifully, although a lot of issues remain to be sorted out, this year has begun on a hopeful note with the two sides holding an energy dialogue and Nisha Biswal, the US chief pointsperson for South Asia, visiting New Delhi in an attempt to mend fences and to map the way ahead to fructify the huge potential of this multi-hued relationship. Saying Namaste India, and weaving a web in Hindi, may just help in keeping the conversation flowing between the world’s oldest and largest democracies.
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