Story of Hindi in Australia at La Trobe

By Rekha Rajvanshi

On October 24th 2017, Hindi workshop was held at La Trobe University. Hindi experts, educators, school teachers, principals and authors got together to read aloud the story of Hindi in Australia. Dr Ian Woolford of La Trobe University and Craig Jeffrey of Australia India Institute organized the workshop.

Hindi, one of the world’s most widely spoken languages, has a firm foothold in Australia. The 2016 Census counted 23.4 million people living in Australia, an increase of 8.8% since the 2011 Census. Here are the state-wise figures of Hindi-speakers: NSW – 67,034, Victoria – 51,241, Queensland – 18,163, South Australia – 7,310, Western Australia – 10,747, Tasmania”“ 639, Australian Capital Territory (ACT) – 3,646 and Northern TERRITORY”“ 852. The story of Hindi forms a chapter in the story of Australia.

All aspects of Hindi in Australia were explored in the workshop. Topics covered included all levels of Hindi education, media and publishing, and Hindi as a link between India and Australia. There were guests from India, well-known journalist and writer Mrinal Pande spoke about changing scenario of Hindi and what we should do, Aditi Maheshwari from Vani Prakashan spoke about the translation and its importance.

The workshop had many keynote speakers from Australia’s Hindi community – Prof. Richard Barz was invited from Canberra, he spoke about the challenges Hindi teaching at the university level faces.  Mala Mehta-IABBV Hindi School, Kumud Merani- SBS Radio and Hindi teacher and poet Rekha Rajvanshi were invited from Sydney.

In the first session of ”˜Community’ Mala Mehta, OAM, spoke about how Hindi grew in NSW and its inclusion as Hindi subject in national curriculum by ACARA. Dr Dinesh Srivastava presented a power point to show how Hindi education and translation developed in Victoria. Colin Avery, Principal Rangebank Public School at Melbourne along with his Hindi teacher Pooja spoke on the progress of Hindi teaching learning at Rangebank Public School. An Indian writer Poornima Patil was present too; she read some of the paragraphs from her book ”˜Australia Me Bhartiya Sanskriti aur Hindi.’

In ”˜Creativity’ session, Rekha Rajvanshi presented an overall picture of Hindi literary activities in Australia; she also showed an Aboriginal dreamtime animation film ”˜Minawee’ translated by her from English into Hindi for Aboriginal Nations Australia. SBS Radio’s Kumud Merani said Hindi has become an important language now; it being the eighth most spoken language in Australia.

In ”˜Future of Hindi’ session, Victorian MP and Education Secretary Hon Judith Gray shared her experiences in India and said that India-Australia relationship is getting stronger. Hindi will have more acceptance in future. Richard Barz proposed scholarships to encourage students to learn Hindi.

In Performance session, Dr Subhash Sharma invited poets from Melbourne and Sydney to recite poems.  Mridula Kakkar, Vipin Gandhar, Rekha Rajvanshi, Aditi Maheshwari and Sonal Sharma to recite their poems. In the end, comedian and screenwriter Varun Grover with his piece of humour, made everyone laugh.

Dr Ian Woolford concluded the program, he thanked everybody and hoped Hindi will have a bright future in Australia. He also quoted popular poet Kedarnath Singh’s poetry which meant ”˜Home is the mother tongue: the local, sweet, regional language Bhojpuri. Hindi is everything else. It is the world.’

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