PU discusses project to digitise literary sources

CHANDIGARH: Digital humanities project, which is one of the biggest proposed research projects worth more than Rs 41.33 crore, came up for a discussion at Panjab University (PU) on Thursday.

PU discusses project to digitise literary sources


Bhartesh Singh Thakur 

Tribune News Service 

Chandigarh, January 10 

Digital humanities project, which is one of the biggest proposed research projects worth more than Rs 41.33 crore, came up for a discussion at Panjab University (PU) on Thursday.

The project, which aims at hypertextualising selected forms of the Indian literature, has been submitted by Prof Akshaya Kumar of the Department of English and Cultural Studies. 

“There is an absence of hypertextualised Indian literary sources online. The project aims to build a hypertextual resource base of Indian writing, with a focus on selected forms of poetry and narrative genres. To begin with, texts of Indian literature will  be selected — with special focus on forms such as ‘barahmasa’, ‘ghazal’, ‘kissa’, ‘katha’ and ‘charita’. Then these texts will be digitised and subsequently provided with hypertextual links,” said Prof Kumar. It will be a 10-year project, the linkages of which will cover a wide range of inputs. The primary text will be embedded with linkage to its scholarly annotations, critical comments, multiple translations, diverse paintings, musical renditions, and dance performances. 

According to the project report: “In the first phase, the ‘barahmasa’ will be culled from ancient and medieval texts for converting them into hypertexts. This phase will last for three years.” 

The second phase will be for three years wherein medieval ‘kissa’ from Punjabi literatures will be taken for up for hypertextualisation. “It will cover ‘kissa’ of Pooran Bhagat, Heer-Ranjha and Sohni-Mahiwal. In this phase, hypertextualisation of ‘ghazals’ will also be undertaken. About 50 ‘ghazals’ of leading poets will be selected,” states the project report. 

In the third and final phase, focus will be shifted to Indian narrative traditions — from ‘katha’ to ‘charita’. “This phase will last for about four years and will involve hypertextualisation of about 50-70 texts,” adds the project report. “The purpose of the project is to bring all major representations of a text on a single page with a limited number of hypertextual links for readers. The hypertexts will not only consist of printed or typed version of an original text, it will also include animation, its simulations in virtual space and graphic representation,” said Prof Kumar. The project calls for experts’ help from 15 different departments of Panjab University. 

The project will yield around 150 hypertexts of select Indian writings and can be used for generating revenue. The infrastructure installed during the project can also be used simultaneously to produce 200-250 postgraduates in the emerging inter-disciplinary domain of digital humanities. 

The possible funding agencies could be the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology under the digital preservation project.

Resource allocation

  • Manpower Rs 18.63 crore
  • Digital media lab with 50 desktop Rs 7 crore 
  • Two sound proof smart classrooms theatre Rs 2 crore
  • Books, journals and software Rs 2 crore
  • Purchase of copyright material Rs 5 crore 
  • Travels to sites of performance, archives, libraries and painting galleries Rs 3 crore 
  • Honorarium to visiting professionals Rs 2 crore 
  • Total Rs 41.33 crore 

Other proposals 

  • Prof Upinder Sawhney of Economics Department has submitted a project on ‘Pace and Pattern of the Growth and Development of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh’ at Rs 40.36 crore. 
  • Prof Alok Srivastav of the Chemistry Department has submitted a project — ‘Studying toxic elements occurring at ultra-trace levels in the Ganga from Gangotri to Gangasagar and arsenic in the Indo-Gangetic Plain’ — at Rs 20 crore
  • Prof Rajeev Patnaik from Geology has submitted a project on ‘Functional adaptation and dietary evolution of extinct mammals of India and the establishment of a Micro-CT scanning Lab’ at Rs 11.23 crore  



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