Oxford Languages Hindi Word of the Year for 2020 ‘Aatmanirbharta’

Oxford Languages Hindi Word of the Year for 2020 'Aatmanirbharta'

NEW DELHI: Oxford Languages on Tuesday announced ‘Aatmanirbharta’ as its Hindi Word of the Year for 2020. The word implies self-reliance, an expression or a thought that has resonated with a very wide majority of Indians in the past year.

The Oxford Hindi Word of the Year is a word or expression that is chosen to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance.

The year 2020 was an unprecedented year with India under stringent lockdowns for most of it. The restriction of movement and day-to-day activities slowed down the economic activity, impacting millions of citizens in the country. It took the indomitable human spirit and display of resilience and self-reliance by people from all walks of life to weather the tough times.

In the early months of the pandemic when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s Covid-19 recovery package, he emphasised the need to become self-reliant as a country, as an economy, as a society and as individuals, in a bid to navigate the perils of a pandemic. The Prime Minister elaborated on this, noting that “Aatmanirbhar Bharat is not about being self-contained or being closed to the world, it is about being self-sustaining and self-generating”.

He said that “we will pursue policies that promote efficiency, equity and resilience”.

There was a massive increase in the usage of ‘Aatmanirbharta’ (self-reliance) following the Prime Minister’s address, highlighting its increased prominence as a phrase and concept in the public lexicon of India.

However, it must be noted that the concept of self-reliance is not new; it draws similarities with Gandhi’s vision of a self-sufficient village economy where the villages would be independent economic units. In more recent history, in the 1960s and 1970s, initiatives such as the Green Revolution and the White revolution that saw us, as a nation, through the times of war and food scarcity are examples that exemplify the concept of a self-sufficient India and a self-reliant India.

On an individual level too, 2020 required self-reliance more than ever before. From home schooling to remote working, from creating our own means of entertainment to finding ways of keeping ourselves physically fit within confined spaces, from cooking for ourselves to caring for ourselves, and being forced to remain away from family and loved ones for extended periods of time, what has gotten many of us through is self-reliance. This has taken many forms, from discovering how to take care of our mental wellbeing in the absence of immediate support systems, to finding new support systems in online communities.

As we enter 2021, one of the standout successes of the entire ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign is the large-scale manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccine in India. During the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, the Department of Biotechnology highlighted the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign and showcased the Covid-19 vaccine development process in their tableau at Rajpath.

The Hindi Word of the Year 2020 was chosen by the Oxford Languages team with the help of an advisory panel of language experts comprising Kritika Agrawal, Advocate-on-Record, Polyglot and Indian language expert, Poonam Nigam Sahay, Associate Professor at Ranchi University and Imogen Foxell, Executive Editor, Oxford Languages, OUP

“In an unprecedented year, Aatmanirbharta found resonance with a wide cross-section of people as it is seen to be an answer to the revival of a Covid impacted economy.” said Sivaramarkrishnan Venkateswaran, Managing Director, Oxford University Press India.

He added that “our endeavour at Oxford University Press is to develop world-class print and digital content for learners, teachers, scholars and researchers including lexical resources that reflect, rather than dictate, how language is used by real people in their daily lives. OUP’s well-researched and evidence-based content plays a pivotal role in shaping and providing new ideas to millions of users, every day. I take this opportunity to congratulate the panel of judges for selecting a word that captured the imagination of Indians in the year gone by”.

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