Centre for Internet & Society

Black is beautiful, and it can go places if it is well researched. When HL Omshivaprakash wrote a Wikipedia article about Karnataka's bidriware, the metal handicraft where gleaming black bowls and hookahs are dotted with delicate silver strips, he didn't expect it to be picked up by the French and Swedes.

Read the article published in the Times of India here. Subhashish Panigrahi gave inputs.

His article has now been translated into their languages. Though it might not lead to more money for the struggling artists of Bidar, they might get an edge while marketing their wares, says Omshivaprakash. This is the advantage that a week-long editathon hopes to achieve. Editors of the online encyclopaedia are celebrating Republic Day by encouraging people to upgrade and contribute articles on those arts, crafts and goods unique to various parts of India. "People are already working on 15 products from Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and West Bengal," says Subhashish Panigrahi, Wikipedian and language activist.

India has 213 goods and crafts with geographical indication (GIs) tags. The GI mark is a kind of trademark, which indicates that a product's reputation is linked to its origins in a particular area. Of 213 GI tags, only 70 have English entries. So while intricacies of Muga silk-making in Assam and cultivating Bangalore Blue grapes are explained in detail in English, Alleppey coir has only a sketchy Malayalam entry.

"People should know the history of each item. For example, they should know how Kondapalli toys from near Vijayawada are made,"says Nageswara Rao Gullapalli.

Omshivaprakash, who created a signboard outside Bidar Fort last year, with a QR code that allows users to read the relevant wiki entry on their mobile phones, says a change in design can make a difference."The QR code was etched in bidri to create a socio-economic link between readers and artisans. Though the art is expensive, the artists are not paid well,"he says.

It is this desire to unearth new facts that will see Santosh Shinga, an IIT-B researcher, delving deep into Nagpur oranges, Nashik grapes and Mahabaleshwar strawberries. "I am from Nagpur and interested in fruits,"says Shinga, who knows a bit of orange farming.The only exception in his list is Puneri pagadi, the elaborate headgear recently spotted on actor Ranveer Singh in Bollywood movie 'Bajirao Mastani'.

Panigrahi hopes to finish the edits in English by January 30, right in time when the event wraps up by January 31. Karnataka, which tops the list with 30 GI goods, has only a handful of articles and images, says Panigrahi.