Odia author and cultural historian Jagannath Prasad Das has recently permitted to re-license under a free license Creative Commons Share-Alike 4.0 or CC-BY-SA 4.0 for 30 volumes of his notable works. The author, popularly known as “J P” or “JP Das” has been honored with Saraswati Samman and Sahitya Academy award for his significant contribution in fiction, historical research of Odisha’s cultural heritage in his books Puri Paintings, Chitra-Pothi and Palm-leaf Miniatures apart from his Odia books “Prathama Purusa” and “Bhabanatha O Anyamane”.
“I made a rather late and hesitant entry into the internet and digital world, but it has since become an integral part of my life. My introduction to digital books was through Srujanika’s digitised version of Purnachandra Odia Bhashakosha – all of 95,00 pages in seven volumes — which was impossible to handle on the writing table. That made me think how wonderful it would be to have all Odia books available on the internet that could be easily accessible to every interested reader”, says Das.
“As a beginning I decided to put my own writings on the internet. Many of our young Odia writers are are quite active on the social media. I hope they will take the initiative to get more and more Odia books available on the internet with the help of Odia Wikisource”, he adds.
This contribution opens up a whole new window to his books being accessible to readers for free online. Recently the scanning of the original books were made by the Bhubaneswar based non-profit and science education research organization Srujanika which will now be made available after converting them into text form.
Apart from Dr Das, many other notable individuals like Padma shree Debi Prasanna Pattanayak, Dr Subrat Prusty, Manoj Panda, Bharat Majhi and organisations like Aama Odisha, Manik Biswanath Smrutinyasa have taken the noble step of sharing their works online with free licenses using Odia Wikisource as a platform.
Odia Wikisource, a sister project of the Odia Wikipedia, is available online at or.wikisource.org. There are over 238 books already and all of the books are either under Public Domain or under the above mentioned Creative Commons Share-Alike license which gives the freedom of accessing the works for free, reuse them and even correct if any mistakes found, of course following the guidelines made by the Wikisource community. Currently about 10 Wikisourcers are actively contributing to digitize books of various genre, ranging from science to fiction to even the Odia classics.
With more authors generously opening up their work online, it feels like they are worried of the books becoming obsolete from the new generation leaving them with no way to learn about their own language and literature. Regional languages like Odia are facing the struggle to selling more books with the growing trend of English-centric education and rat race for jobs. In such a tough situation more popular Odia literary content is certainly going to give a boost to readership and will take the language to more people.