Chairman of the Pratidin Media Network of Assam, Shri Jayanta Baruah, formally presented South-East Asia's first Braille dictionary, ‘Hemkosh’ to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal were also present at the occasion.
‘Hemkosh’ is South-East Asia's first Braille dictionary in Assamese. It was also the first Assamese dictionary, edited by Hemchandra Baruah in the 19th century. After more than 125 years, Braille version of ‘Hemkosh’ has been conceptualized and published by the Editor of Asomiya Pratidin, Shri Jayanta Baruah.
Notably, the Pratidin Media Network of Assam publishes the highest circulated newspaper of the state, Asomiya Pratidin, and a host of weekly and monthly periodicals.
The first Assamese language dictionary, ‘Hemkosh’, was compiled by Late Hemchandra Baruah in the last part of the 19th century, and was published four years later after his demise. The subsequent editions, of the dictionary were published by the next generations of his family, particularly from fourth edition to 14th edition, was compiled and edited by Hemkosh Pran Debananda Baruah, the father of Mr. Jayanta Baruah, who currently owns the media conglomerate of Assam, 'Pratidin Media Network'.
In a bid to continue the ‘Hemkosh’ legacy, Shri Jayanta Baruah as the grandson of Late Hemchandra Baruah, conceptualized, and published the Braille edition of ‘Hemkosh’. This edition of ‘Hemkosh’ comprises of approximately 10,000 pages comprising more than 15 volumes.
The first phase of this edition comprises of chapters on "Swarabarna", published in five volumes, and is ready for distribution. The later phases (Vyanjanbarna) are also under the process of publication. This is an inauguration of the noble journey of publishing the entire Assamese dictionary in Braille.
Notably, this Braille version of Hemkosh would be the first full language dictionary in Braille, after Oxford.
Shri Jayanta Baruah has also pledged to donate (free of cost), the dictionary copies to all the educational institutions for the visually impaired students, universities, state and central libraries, as well as the national library.
On September 16, Governor of Assam, Professor Jagdish Mukhi, released the Braille version of Hemkosh in presence of several academicians, educationists and prominent personalities including VC Mridul Hazarika of Srimanta Shankardev University and Assam Sahitya Sabha President Kuladhar Saikia.
The special guest of the program was Pandit Bhartendu Pandey, professor of Department of Sanskrit, Delhi University. A visually impaired person himself, Mr. Pandey said that this release is a celebration for the people who gained their vision back through Braille and was fortunate to be a part of it.
In the book release ceremony, Hon’ble Governor of Assam also launched the free distribution program of ‘Braille Hemkosh’. He handed over the inaugural chapter with five volumes to the Principal of Govt. Blind School in Basistha.