The Indian High Commission celebrated World Hindi Day (Vishva Hindi Diwas) and Pravasi Bharti Divas together with several prominent Hindi educators and members of the community, in Wellington on Thursday, January 9.

World Hindi Day is celebrated every year on January 10 to commemorate the occasion of the first World Hindi Conference held in Nagpur India in 1975. Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas is celebrated every year on January 9 in India to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community towards the development of India. The day commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to Ahmadabad on January 9, 1915.

To mark these two important occasions, this commemorative event was planned at Indian High Commission, where the High Commissioner Muktesh Pardeshi also read the message of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about promoting the use of Hindi language in New Zealand.

Several prominent academics, official agencies, student community, Hindi educators, writers and thinkers in community who are doing remarkable work for the promotion and dissemination of Hindi in New Zealand, attended the two hours long seminar.

A future strategy and road map for the promotion of Hindi language in New Zealand was discussed and delved during the seminars with several guest speakers sharing their views.

One of the attendees and a prominent Hindi educator based in Wellington Sunita Narayan told The Indian Weekender that the event was hugely meaningful and encouraging towards the cherished goal of preserving the Hindi language among our diaspora communities.

"After the official inauguration of the event by the High Commissioner Muktesh Pardeshi, the attendees had a chance to express their views for about an hour that was very encouraging," Mrs Narayan said.

The current initiatives, activists and educators were acknowledged for their relentless contribution to the maintenance of Hindi in New Zealand. Some key challenges highlighted during the seminar were the lack of investment and appropriate resources, including human resources towards the preservation and promotion of the Hindi language in New Zealand.

Notably, Sunita Narayan, along with another prominent Hindi educator Dr Pushpa Wood had on January 10, 2019, launched the Bharatiya Bhasha evam Shod Sansthan (Indian Languages and Research Foundation) – a research institute dedicated for streamlining and aligning the nation-wide efforts in the promotion of Indian languages in the country, initially working on Hindi.

Dr Wood had then told The Indian Weekender, "The Foundation's purpose is to advise, develop and evaluate a strategic approach for building capability and capacity of Indian languages providers in New Zealand."

Speaking more about the event at the High Commission, Sunita Narayan said, "A range of solutions were also listed. The output from this event will be written up into a discussion paper including all the current initiatives, will be consulted nationally to form a strategy and priorities for Hindi in New Zealand

‘A special year for the promotion of Hindi in the Pacific,’ 

Meanwhile, the High Commissioner Muktesh Pardeshi has expressed satisfaction on the growth of Hindi language and the overall progress of the broader Indian diaspora in New Zealand. 

Speaking to The Indian Weekender, Mr Pardeshi said, “The idea behind celebrating World Hindi Day is to promote the Hindi as a world language, given that it is widely spoken by a large number of people and regions around the world.

“In that regard, New Zealand is a great place for the Hindi language as the language is already the fifth most spoken language in the country. This augurs well for our mutual bilateral relations between the two countries,” Mr Pardeshi said. 

However, there is another reason for the cause of the Hindi language in the wider Pacific region as next year the World Hindi Conference is likely to be held in the neighbourhood in Fiji. Notably, Fiji is the only country outside India where Hindi is the official language. 

“We are incredibly enthusiastic about the prospects of the next World Hindi Conference being held in the Pacific region as it will give an opportunity to all speakers and supporters of the language in the region to gather together and delve upon the promotion of the language in the region.” Mr Pardeshi said. 

Celebrations commemorating early settlers in NZ planned this year

Speaking further about the flourishing Indian diaspora in New Zealand Mr Pardeshi said, “This year we are also celebrating the hundredth anniversary of one of the earliest community organisation Auckland Indian Association, which gives us a great opportunity to commemorate some of the earliest Indian-settlers in this beautiful country. 

“It is also an opportunity for all of us to come together and celebrate the grit and determination of the earliest generations of the Indian-settlers and their contribution to both, the development of New Zealand and the progress of our fellow Indian community. 

“We are in conversation with several community organisations to plan some commemorative events throughout the year, which will be soon announced.”

The official launch of a book on Hindi Journalism

Meanwhile, High Commissioner Pardeshi also officially launched a Hindi book on journalism by another prominent Hindi educationist Rohit Kumar “Happy.”