A language lost is a culture lost. Sanjiv Saraf took this quote upon himself to preserve Urdu literature through his pet project - an ebook portal. A treasure chest for academicians, scholars, book lovers, and researchers, this virtual library has ebooks from travelogues, translations, manuscripts and pop magazines to epics, mythology, The Mahabharata, The Quran, autobiographies, and other nonfiction and fiction. Rekhta.org also offers a collection of ''shers'' and ''shayaris'' and an essential collection of iconic poets. All titles are free.
Sanjiv Saraf a Noida-based entrepreneur and the portal’s founder told a reputed news portal that the e-book project commenced in 2013 after he discussed the idea of an Urdu virtual library with a few university professors. It was around the time when the absence of an Urdu archive was collectively felt by all. Saraf said that they then embarked on a journey to overcome the barrier of inaccessibility and lack of resources in Urdu learning. They reached out to various sources, both public and private across India, with a major focus on covering cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Rampur, Bhopal, Allahabad, Hyderabad, Aligarh, Patna, and other cities.
Saraf worked towards making this literature available to future generations. The 90,000 e-books consisting of 19 million pages are classified into various categories including children's literature, banned books, diaries, and translations and can then be accessed by students, litterateurs, and Urdu-lovers from around the world.
Saraf narrated that most of these books were recovered by organised camps through Rekhta at which several publications and people donated century-old Urdu scripts readily. Naval Kishore Press founded in 1858 and based in Lucknow, Asia's oldest printing and publishing firm was a major contributor, handing over around 2,000 books which included translations of the Mahabharata and the Quran and rare manuscripts from the 17th century and onwards.
He said that they received many tattered copies torn due to “negligence and poor handling”. The Rekhta organisation compiled all such texts and reprinted, re-dyed, and recreated them for their audience. The organisation has begun the same kind of archival for Hindi readers.
(With inputs from agencies)