Mohd Salim for BeyondHeadlines
Rekhta, a website of collections of old and modern representative poetry, is an online treasure of Urdu available in Roman, Devnagri and Urdu scripts with correct and authentic text. On this unique website one can listen to the poetry and find the meaning of difficult words too. On its e-book section, a huge collection of rare books, manuscripts, and other literary materials and publications are being gathered. This website includes one more specialty; the poets are recorded in audio and video forms in studios and the poetry meets and mushairas are organized here too.
The story of the establishment of this website is very interesting. It’s been two years when the founder of REKHTA Mr. Sanjiv Saraf, because of his keen interest in Urdu poetry, felt a dire need of a website where Urdu poetry can be read in Urdu, Hindi and Roman scripts. He inherited the interest in Urdu poetry from his father. Mr. Saraf, from his childhood, participated in the literary programs, thus, his analytic sense of poetry reached the maturity.
Sanjiv Saraf is a well known name as an Indian industrialist. He spared time from his busy schedule and learned how to read and write Urdu. He had empathy of having a big lack of manpower related to Urdu language and literature in the cyber world. The world is progressing and in this situation no language can establish a strong connection with its readers without the help of modern technology.
A few websites were there but, in those websites, the poetry was not systematic or organized. They were scattered and not standard. Most of the available materials on the internet had a lot of inauthentic text based on someone’s like or dislike. Therefore, Mr. Sanjiv Saraf followed a principle in order to create this website, and that was, before making collections, the selection of the poets need to be made by that literary panel who has deep knowledge of classic and modern poetic assets. For this job a team of staffs was needed who would develop a tool to upload the poetry on REKHTA besides selection, composing, and proof reading. IT department was also established to design the poetry pieces and to fight the technical difficulties and to solve the same.
In the beginning, the office of Rekhta was in the company building of Mr. Saraf. At that time REKHTA team was based on six to seven members. Now the numbers of staffs increased up to twenty five.
On January 11, 2013 this website was inaugurated in the India Habitat Centre. In the inaugural function the respected literary and political figures presented and participated. At the time of launching REKHTA the ghazals of three hundred fifty poets and eleven e-books were presented to the readers. Now the 10,000 ghazals and nazms of more than 1000 poets and more than one thousand e-books have been included in it. In REKHTA, Maintaining the standard has been focused a lot. In the selection procedure, before including, the books have to pass a quality check. It’s made sure that the reputed and the worthwhile books for Urdu lovers. In the e-book section those books are given first priority which are exempted from the copyright have been included in the website.
Secondly, the books which come under the copyright law, after taking the written permission from the author, are uploaded on the website. Because of its standard REKHTA is being supported by the writers of the frontline including Intizar Hussain, Saqi Farooqi, Zafar Iqbal, Ahmad Mushtaq, Fahmida Riaz, Kishwar Naheed, Asad Mohammad Khan, Shamim Hanfi and other eminent scholars. In order to make reading of the books on the website easy, the list of contents has been provided separately. By clicking on anyone on the list the readers can be directed directly to the certain chapter.
Very soon REKHTA is going to come up with a search engine to search the books by title, author, or topic in the e-book section. Besides providing poetry in devnagri and Urdu script, with the help of Urdu scholars they are audio recorded as well so the people who are not familiar with the Urdu script or language they can listen to and understand the accent and intonation. By clicking on any word its English can be found easily. The effort is being made to provide Urdu and Hindi synonyms too. In the search engine, even the text or poets names have been entered with spelling mistake in Urdu or roman still the target text can be found.
In the video section of REKHTA, the interviews of the literary personalities from abroad who visited India or the renowned Indian poets, in their own voice are available. In this series, names from Pakistan Tahseen Firaqi and Fatema Hassan, and Ludmila Vasilyeva from Russia and Julien Columeau from France are in the list.
REKHTA is the single website in which there is a separate section for nazms and in this section the effort is continued to highlight the modern Nazms. The other genres like Marsia, Masnavi, Qaseeda and Rubai will be added here later on.
In the development of Urdu language and literature, through this website whatever contribution is being made, for that the total capital and investments were by the one and only Mr. Sanjiv Saraf. It is Mr. Saraf’s desire to make REKHTA the biggest online hub of Urdu literature in the world. The destination for this journey, according to him, is miles away. REKHTA has grabbed the attention of serious community of the Urdu literature because of its efforts, and because of its hard work only the institutions and the individuals called it an excellent step towards bright future. It includes Ajmal Kamal’s publishing institution “Aaj ki Kitaben”, publications of “City press book club”, The books of the library of Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu (Hind) and its published books(approx. more than ten thousand) and the publications of Maktaba Jamia Limited, a publishing wing of the Jamia itself are on top of the list.
The journey is continued to attract the big educational and literary institutes of India and Pakistan and There is a hope with the activities of REKHTA that very soon other big institutions and libraries will let REKHTA include their books in it, through help of which the research scholars of Urdu, very easily, will be able to complete their research works and students can get benefit of this treasure right from their homes.
In the modern educational system, Rekhta is busy in strengthening its connections with colleges and Universities so that according to the syllabi the students can get every books of their need at one place and even the teachers can also read good magazine and books. In order to minimize the distance between India and Pakistan in literary perspective, REKHTA has started uploading the books and magazine of both the countries so that the research and critical works of both countries can be read and understood and people of both countries can get access of them as well.
So far this website is being visited by more than one hundred countries besides India and Pakistan and around twenty thousand people visit this website every month. Rekhta is going to start online Urdu learning course also through which any person from around the globe can learn how to read and write Urdu Alphabets and words and their meanings. In addition to it, Rekhta, very soon, is going to inaugurate a publishing house under which there is a plan to publish standard books and a quarterly magazine to come out too.
Talking about the recent plans of Rekhta, an employee told us “In collaboration with Ghalib Institute Delhi, twenty five thousand books will be scanned and Ghalib’s belongings, which are in museum, will also be uploaded to the website. Rekhta is trying to have participation with Muqtadera Qaumi Zaban and Academic publication of Pakistan, he added.