Last year, the Oxford University Press chose ‘Aadhaar’ as its first ‘Hindi word of the year’. The Hindi word of the year is a word or expression that has attracted a great deal of interest over the last 12 months. According to the Oxford Dictionaries, the chosen word should reflect the ethos, mood or preoccupations of the year. It shouldn’t necessarily be a new word but should be strongly linked somehow to that particular year. Kritika Agrawal, Language Champion for Oxford’s Hindi Living Dictionary said, “The launch of Oxford University press’s first Hindi word of the year campaign in 2017 was a milestone in the global recognition of Hindi as one of the major languages of the world”.
This year, ‘Nari Shakti’ was announced as the Oxford Hindi Word of the year 2018 at the Jaipur Literature Festival(JLF). The word ‘Nari Shakti’ has been derived from Sanskrit. ‘Nari’ means ‘women’ and ‘shakti’ means ‘power’ and together it means women power.
The selection process
People were invited to submit suggestions on the Hindi Living Dictionaries site and also through the Hindi Dictionary Facebook page. Submissions were accepted till December 9, 2018. Following the public suggestions, the word of the year was chosen by the Hindi Dictionaries team at Oxford University Press along with an advisory panel of language experts.
The panel for 2018 had the following 6 members:
- Ashok Kumar Sharma- Hindi Language Champion, Advisor, Public Relation Society of India.
- Kritika Agrawal- Hindi Language Champion, Lawyer (Oxford), polyglot and Indian language expert.
- Namita Gokhale- Writer, publisher and festival director. She is the author of 16 works of fiction and non-fiction. She’s also the co-founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and Mountain Echoes, the Bhutan Literature Festival.
- Randhir Thakur- Associate Commissioning Editor- Hindi, Oxford University Press India.
- Saurabh Dwivedi- Journalist, Editor in Chief of thelallantop.com and former Associate Editor AajTak.
- Vijay Nandan- Hindi Language Champion, freelancer, writer and translator.
Reasons for choosing ‘Nari Shakti’ as the word of the year
‘Nari Shakti’ was chosen as the word of the year due to many reasons. It led to a lot of conversations in 2018 due to the efforts and initiatives undertaken by the government, civil society, NGOs and universities for women empowerment. There was a large spike in the use of the word ‘Nari Shakti’ in March 2018 due to the Nari Shakti Puraskar (Women Power Award) held on the International Women’s Day.
The word rose to prominence mainly because of two reasons. The main reason was the Supreme Court’s decision to ban the controversial Islamic practice of triple-talaq. The other reason was the historical decision of the apex court to allow girls and women into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. The championing of the #MeToo campaign also promoted this word internationally. The government-sponsored Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save the girl child, educate girl child) programme and many other steps taken to tackle cybercrime and the online harassment of women are also the reasons. Namita Gokhale, one of the panel members said “Nari Shakti encapsulates the spirit of our times, with all its struggles, challenges and triumphs”.
According to Agrawal, Nari Shakti is “representative of the courage that women derived and the feeling of sisterhood which was stronger than ever before”. The selection of this word has made many women feel empowered and proud.