Lucknow: From holy books to religious scriptures, everything is available on your phone screen through apps.
There are scores of apps to bring the Holy Bible to your phone too. However, none of them is any use to people speaking Bhojpuri, Chhattisgrahi or Gurmukhi.
The Bible Society of India (BSI) has recently launched a project to develop Bible apps in 16 regional dialects. BSI central office director Sam Manoharan said several languages like Urdu and Maithili are also part of the project which would be coordinated by BSI auxiliaries across India.
BSI auxiliary secretary in Allahabad Chittranjan Polson said, “While those in cities can choose between English and regional languages like Marathi or Tamil, the rural folks find it difficult to cope. At the same time, there is demand for such material considering the rise in penetration of smart phones in rural areas.”
Polson’s point is proved by two inputs from the telecom industry. Firstly, low-end smart phones form 60% of the cellphone market in rural and tier-3 cities of India and demand is only rising.
Secondly, internet usage is growing like never before. According to a Boston Consulting Group study, internet usage in rural India is poised to double by 2020 (from 180 million users to 315 million users).
The apps would acquire content from existing material developed by BSI over decades. For the Bible app in Bhojpuri, both Old and New Testaments are available as Jyoti-1 and Jyoti-2. Bhojpuri is the commonest dialect in the Hindi belt according to a 2011 linguistic survey.
“Audio scriptures (CDs and pen drives) containing Jyoti-1 and Jyoti-2 are extremely popular in the region. We sell over 25,000 CD sets through individual purchase alone in a year,” said Polson, adding that Jyoti was available in Bundelkhandi, Garwhali and Kumauni dialects as well.
Brother Justin Masih of St Paul’s Church, Allahabad, said that BSI’s content is the most reliable when compared with other apps.
“A lot of hard work is put in under expert guidance to develop translations,” he said.
BSI’s project for a Bible in Halbi, a regional language spoken by over 5 lakh people in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra, is in its final stage at the moment.
The most crucial role in the project is that of translators of the Holy Bible and they are up for the challenge. “Each word in the Bible has a theological meaning and a social message. Its translation is not a task but a responsibility of conveying the right message in grammatically correct sentences,” said Father Morris Kumar of Assembly of Believers’ Church in India.
Bishop Jagdhari Masih, who has translated 15 religious books in Hindi, added, “All translators base their work on the principle of ABC (accuracy, beauty and clarity of facts and presentation). This helps in attaining a perfect balance and continuity.”