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About Indpaedia

Formal launch of this site: hopefully in 2018

Indpaedia is an apolitical, unfunded, volunteer-run archive of clippings from newspapers and magazines.Each clipping waits to be converted into an encyclopaedia article, alone or in combination with other clippings on the same subject.

The formal launch of this site will take place only once we have improved our software to enable readers to upload new articles and edit existing articles.

At present we are adding about ten new pages everyday, and adding fresh details to three or four existing pages. At this very slow pace the formal launch is unlikely before mid- or even late- 2018.

We are delaying the formal launch so that we can

i) improve our software, and

ii) have enough content at least about places, communities, flora, fauna, and cinema.

The contents, the archive

Parvez Dewan had, since 1987, been collecting materials for a Britannica-style physical encyclopaedia for India. Every weekday he would add five or six newspaper clippings to already bulging file folders, arranged in the alphabetical order according to the subject; on weekends the number would be five times as many.

By 2006, most of the clippings were electronic files (instead of paper clippings) put into MS Word directories (instead of paper folders.

The collaboration

On the 8th November 2008 Neelotpal Mishra and Parvez met in Beijing on the first evening of their Oxford and Cambridge Society of India (OCSI) trip to China.

By then Wikipedia had totally re-written the rules of how encyclopaedias were compiled, published and read.

Over vegetarian noodles at a nondescript restaurant near the City Wall of Beijing, Neelotpal (Department of Computer Science, Oxford: 2008) very kindly offered to help Parvez out by creating a Wikipedia-style online platform for his archive. Parvez (Wolfson College, Cambridge: 1987) was only too glad to accept.

Work on the software officially started on March 8, 2010. The ‘requirements gathering phase’ lasted till April 17, 2010.

The website http://www.indpaedia.com was registered on April 24, 2010.

The software team

Since April 1, 2010 many people tried to get actively involved in the creation of indpaedia.com. However, most had to leave due to a paucity of time.

Ms. Ekta Singh on 12 September 2010 created the installation guidelines for Media Wiki, the frame work that we finally adapted for Indpaedia.

On Nov 21, 2011 Dr. Ravi Prakash helped Neelotpal and Parvez by identifying a group of dedicated students who have since been working very hard to make this bring this project to fruition.

The first basic, functional prototype of this online archive is ready and is in the testing phase. The fully functional website is being developed by the students by taking out time from their busy and demanding academic schedule. (Parvez: ‘Listen, boys, don’t neglect your studies.’)

The students involved in the project under the able guidance of Mr. Vishwa Ranjan are:

Name Student ID
Saurabh Singh 091124
Dhiraj Pahilajani 091299
Vishesh Singh 091427


We would like to express our sincerest gratitude to Prof. Ravi Prakash, Vice Chancellor, Jaypee University of Information Technology for his unstinted support to the project and the continuous motivation to his students to complete such a complex project.

Prof. Prakash’s web page can be viewed at http://www.juit.ac.in/University/vc.php

All the students mentioned above worked hard. However, but for Saurabh Singh, who was guided by Neelotpal, Indpaedia would have taken many more months, maybe years, to go online.

The content uploaders

Pre-1947 records

Since mid-2013

Tsering Angmo and

Phuntsog Dolma

and since 2014

Chon Palajora and

(sometimes) Rabzes Lhamo

have been carrying out the mammoth task of ensuring that readers find all the historical content they seek on Indpaedia. They are extracting town-, district- and sub-caste- wise Indpaedia entries from old colonial-era records.

The archive-uploading team is based in New Delhi and Leh

Current affairs

Jyoti Sharma

seeks out information, interesting anecdotes and statistical tables about current affairs and ensure that Indpaedia's readers are never more than a week behind the generation of information on any subject of importance to them: for those taking civil services and other competitive examinations, as well as those seeking information about India in particular and South Asia in general.

Surbhi Bhagat and Yountan Wangmo, too, have uploaded topical articles.

Jyoti and Surbhi are from Lady Sri Ram College, Delhi.

Yountan is from the Sri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi.

Jammu & Kashmir

Shivam Rajput

specialises in J&K-related articles.

Shivam studied at MHAC, Nagbani, Jammu

North East India, Nepal, Tibet, Myanmar

North East India-related articles are handled by Parvez himself. (He wrote the text of the book Tibet: 50 years later and Burma shell, a blog about Myanmar. As Secretary, Tourism, he sanctioned a few hundred tourism projects in North East India.)

Parvez studied at St Stephen's, Delhi, and Wolfson College, Cambridge University. He was elected a Visiting Research Fellow of Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford

Our debt to Wikipedia and MediaWiki

Above all, we are grateful to Wikipedia for helping us save forests by creating the paperless model, and to MediaWiki for their open source software package on which indpaedia.com has been built.

Indpaedia is not in competition with Wikipedia

We are not in competition with Wikipedia. Our focus is quite different.

Wikipedia caters to the world. Therefore, it has to explain basic concepts in science, mathematics, psychology, literature, indeed, all disciplines.

Only a few of these concepts were developed in South Asia. Therefore, most of them will not get written about by the readers of Indpaedia.

On the other hand, the taxation laws of Pakistan, the judgements of India’s superior courts, the literary cult favourites of Bangladesh, the smallest monasteries of Bhutan and Nepal, the smallest towns of Myanmar, the tax evaders of India and Sri Lanka, the cave paintings of Afghanistan, and the minority languages of the Maldives—Indpaedia will endeavour to record details about them all, through its editors and readers.

Why pAedia?

Because South Asia follows British English, the original. Switching to US English will involve an expense of billions of rupees and takas, in the form of re-writing school textbooks and re-educating every school teacher.

Let us not confuse schoolchildren about which spellings to use. Let us stick to the spellings approved by our school boards, which are all in British English.

Actually, the correct spelling would have been ‘pædia’—i.e. Indpædia. However, it is inconvenient for most readers to type the letter æ, hence ‘paedia’ is the compromise.

Why South Asia?

This is an Indian encyclopædia/ archive meant for all of South Asia.

Why did we not restrict it to just India?

Simply because that is not possible.

Till 1947 the three biggest South Asian countries were one nation. The histories of all three are, in turn, also linked with Afghanistan. Some of the best articles on the history of pre-1947 India and the literature and culture of post-partition India have been taken from Dawn.

The histories of Sri Lanka and India, too, are intertwined. Bangladesh and West Bengal; and Pakistan and the Indian Punjab share the same language. Bhutan and Ladakh share the same sect within Buddhism. Maldives and Lakshadweep boast of the same people, the same ocean. Myanmar has strong links with India’s north-east.

At present we are keeping religion out of this pædia. However, South Asia is also bound together by religion. The majority religion of the people of Pakistan and Bangladesh is the religion of India’s second biggest community; the Chishtiya order is mainly South Asian; Ajmer Sharief is the undisputed capital of all Chishtiya Muslims; and the Hanafi school has most of its adherents in South Asia.

The majority communities of India and Nepal share the same religion. Maldives and Lakshadweep even have sub-sects in common. And Sri Lanka and Myanmar have unbreakable bonds with India that are rooted in Bodh Gaya.

South Asians, thus, are one people living in nine sovereign nation states—just as West Europeans are one people living in many nation states, and the Latin Americans are one people residing in different countries.

No country’s views are superior to those of the others

Therefore, though this pædia is based in India, it will endeavour to cater to all of South Asia. Readers from all South Asian countries (indeed, from anywhere in the world) will (after Indpaedia’s formal launch) be free to post articles on Indpaedia. The points of view of all nine South Asian countries are equally valid (as long as the language used is civil) and no single country’s views are superior.

However, there are two non-negotiables: i) All maps of India, especially of India's border states, used on Indpaedia will be the map(s)/ borders officially approved by the Government of India; and ii) Nothing shall be posted on Indpaedia that gives offence to the citizens of any other South Asian country, or the members of other religious, ethnic, linguistic or caste groups.

For that reason we are keeping religion and politics out of Indpaedia. We will be posting British Raj-era articles on castes and communities. Some of their views are politically incorrect by today’s standards. Let us read them as historical accounts even if we do not agree with them.

Why the name Indus?

Indus—-the ancient civilisation as well as the river of the same name—-is perhaps the highest common factor of South Asia.

Between 3300 B.C. and 1300 B.C. an urban civilisation developed on both sides of River Indus. It is now known as the Indus Valley Civilisation. Its best known sites are in Mo[h]enjo Daro, Harappa and Mehrgrah (in present day Pakistan) and Lothal (in Gujarat, India). The civilisation covered all of Pakistan, most of Afghanistan, the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat, and Iranian Balochistan. The Indus script has been found in Oman and Turkmenistan as well.

Asko Parpola (born 1941), an Indologist, Sindhologist, and professor emeritus at the University of Helsinki, and Iravatham Mahadevan (born 1930), an Indian civil servant and scholar, have argued that the script inscribed on Indus seals indicates that the Indus Valley people spoke a Dravidian language. The jury is still out on their contention but if it is true it broadens the footprint of this Civilisation to cover all of South India, northeastern Sri Lanka, and parts of Nepal and Bangladesh, where Dravidian languages are spoken. Incidentally, Brahui, which is spoken in Balochistan, has a Dravidian base and origin.

Dhivehi (the language of the Maldives and parts of Indian Lakshadweep) and Sinhala (the majority language of Sri Lanka) are—like many languages of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan—Indo-Aryan languages.

River Indus originates in Tibet, passes through Ladakh (India) and flows down the entire length of Pakistan. The people of Bhutan, like their Buddhist brethren in the Indian Himalayas, follow a culture which, too, originated in Tibet. The river has tributaries in Afghanistan as well.

Indus—the civilisation, the river and the group of languages that bears its name—is without doubt the highest common factor of South Asia.

Why the North East?

Why does Indpaedia lay such a special emphasis on North-Eastern India?

Because we have a very strong emotional connection with the North East.

Besides, scholarship on and information about this highly-literate, culturally-rich region has been neglected. Someone has to make amends.

All of the present Indpaedia team live in Jammu, Leh, New Delhi/ NOIDA, and Jaipur. All of us are mayang/ tsumaar/ dakaar/ tephriimia/ wai people. (Translation: We are from J&K, U.P. and Rajasthan, none of us is from the NE.) However, because other 'national' media do not cover the North East, Ladakh, Bhutan, Nepal and the Tibetan diaspora, we believe that it is our duty to fill the void as best as we can.

Sometimes the affection comes from the North East.

When Indpaedia was being tested (in 2013) readers from Manipur and Assam overwhelmed us with their patronage, especially of our pages on the cinemas of Manipur and Assam (and Tripura's Kokborok). In 2015 the Maring went to great lengths to promote Indpaedia.

Why, then, should we not reciprocate?

Free content

Indpaedia is a free encyclopædia/ archive. It does not intend to ever charge readers for browsing the site.

Finances

We also resolved not to seek advertising, for the first five and a half years, i.e. till late 2018. We are meeting the expenses of Indpaedia from a foundation set up by one of our members. Unlike some other online encyclopaedias we will not ask for or accept donations. If we cannot manage from that member's personal foundation we will have no option but to place a few discreet Google-style advertisements on our pages after mid- or late- 2018.

Please do not offer donations. We cannot and will not accept. Right now we are managing.

If you really want to do something for Indpaedia, donate your time:

i) Improve our software (which is in PHP), because Parvez (History/ St Stephen's; Development Studies/ Cambridge) does not have a clue.

ii) Contribute information- (not opinion-) oriented articles, or improve existing ones.

Copyright

There is a school of thought, widely held among internet users, that all information should be free. This school is most popular among those who think nothing of watching a film on a site designed for pirated films or listening to a song copied illegally.

What this school cannot explain is why medical, legal and financial services should not also be free, leave alone why motor cars, television sets and food should not be free.

What about those who generate ‘information’—journalists, writers, actors, singers, session musicians? If their works are copied ‘free’ (i.e. illegally, without giving them a royalty) who will pay their food, medical, housing, clothing and transportation bills? What about authors and musicians who have just one hit in their entire lives, after a decade or more of failures, and followed by more duds?

Gary Trudeau has covered both sides of the argument in his ‘Doonesbury.’

Indpaedia’s take:

i) Nothing should be posted on Indpaedia that deprives anyone of a royalty. (Out-of-copyright books and most newspaper and magazine articles do not generate royalties.)

ii) The authorship of all sources should be cited fully, so that some Indpaedia readers might even pay for the works of the original authors or go to their website.

iii) If anyone whose work has been archived on Indpaedia objects, we should immediately remove those paragraphs and re-write them in our own language, as is the international requirement and convention. No three continuous words on Indpaedia should be the same as in another author's work on the same topic if that author continues to object even after due acknowledgement has been given.

Copy left

However, everything posted on Indpaedia may be copied, free, without guilt. If you give Indpaedia an acknowledgement (as we acknowledge all our sources), thank you and bless you. If you don’t, that’s between your conscience and you.

Contribute articles (not money) to Indpaedia

If you really want to do something for Indpaedia, donate your time:

Improve our software (which is in PHP), because Parvez (History/ St Stephen's; Development Studies/ Cambridge) does not have a clue.


Hopefully, someday (maybe by 2019) readers will be able to post new articles and update existing ones directly on Indpaedia—as they can on Wikipedia. Until then readers can send new articles, updates and corrections to our Facebook page Indpaedia.com.

‘What should I write about?’ you ask.

Ideally about great subjects that appeal to lakhs and millions of readers. For ideas see our list of Categories and, within each Category, the kind of articles there already are.

Or write about your school, your ancestral village, your community, your college, your town…Or update existing articles about these subjects.

Just one article will clearly not be enough if you are from an old school or college. Year-wise histories of the annual winter festivals of the IITs and colleges like St Stephen’s can be independent articles. As can be year-wise histories of the Miss Fresher contests of colleges and towns.

Your village: British-era gazetteers used to give the area and population of important villages and add that the village had 7 Brahmin, 1 Syed, 16 Jatav, 11 Nair, 3 Chettiar, 18 Angami, 3 Rongmei families and so on.

The revenue records in the office of your village accountant (variously known as Patwari, Thallathi, Patel, Karnam, Adhikari, Shanbogaru, etc.) are a storehouse of information about your village: Especially settlement records.

When was your village founded? (This might not always be available.) What is the meaning of its name? (This is almost always available in settlement records. In North India and Pakistan this is given under the head ‘vajah tasmiya.’) Give the names of as many village headmen (sarpanch, numberdar) as the village elders can remember (or you have records about).

Religious structures in the village—to which deity or saint are they dedicated, roughly when were they built, how big are they in size, what material are they made of, when is the annual ritual, any detail like that. If the village has a heritage pond, or a natural forest or lake or riverbank---future generations will appreciate details like that.

Colleges and schools: When were they founded? Who founded them? The names of principals, school captains, sports captains, famous alumni, famous sports victories, toppers in board exams, anecdotes, traditions (Hindu College, Delhi has a famous tree), dramatic society, famous debaters…

Communities: Write about your own community, not others. Indpaedia is a ‘feel-good’ archive. If you do not have anything good to say about others, don’t say it.

Why are we not giving a contact address or email ID?

Because we do not have the staff to handle mail. We do not have an office (not even a garage) and work from our houses in Jammu, New Delhi/ NOIDA and Jaipur. Sometimes we get together in Parvez' study, take off our shoes, roll out a carpet and sit on the carpeted floor with the laptops that we have brought from our respective homes, work through the night and decide on the next week's work.

Right now even the software 'team' consists of exactly one man, with some BCA and MCA students working under his guidance. (At one stage another three young men had developed the software on a purely voluntary basis, under Neelotpal's leadership.)

The abovementioned young ladies upload content.

Volunteers and interns

Volunteers and interns are more than welcome, but we cannot pay.

Our Facebook page is Indpaedia.com. You can post messages there (on the Timeline/ wall or send a message) but it might not always be possible for us to respond to them.

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