Israel to launch website in Hindi and Urdu

July 24th, 2008 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) Israel, which has often been the whipping boy in Indian political discourse, has decided to be the first foreign mission here to launch a website in Hindi and Urdu to ensure that the people in the Indian hinterland get to know their side of the story. The website, along with publications in these two languages, will be inaugurated by the Israeli ambassador Mark Sofer at a function at the Hyatt Regency hotel Friday.

“As far as our knowledge and information goes this is the first time that an embassy is launching a website in either Hindi or Urdu for the Indian people,” an official of the Israeli embassy told IANS.

Most foreign missions based in India have their websites in English. Though many of them publish their magazines and newsletters in Hindi or Urdu, none of them so far have a website in these languages.

The British government has a website in Urdu, but it is run by its foreign office in London to cater to people in South Asia. The British high commission, like some other missions in New Delhi, have been toying with the idea of a website in Hindi and other Indian languages, but have not yet done so.

“The initiative of the embassy of Israel is to reach out to the larger Indian population through our brand new website and publications in two of the most popular languages-Hindi and Urdu,” the Israeli official said.

He added: “Our attempt is to reach out to people who are more comfortable in either Hindi or Urdu rather than English.”

India-Israeli relations started to change in the early 1990s when P.V. Narasimha Rao was the prime minister. The warming up in ties became evident when in January 1992 to the two sides established full diplomatic relations and opened embassies in each other’s capital.

But the ties deepened and strengthen further when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance came to power in 1998. Subsequently, the Congress-led United progressive Alliance government has also pursued the same policy. However, the Left parties, which had been a key ally to the government till recently, had serious reservations over the growing ties between the sides.

“Israel often figures in political discussions and debates in India,” the embassy official said. He admitted that often attempts are made by political parties in India to paint a “negative image” of Israel.

“Some times it is unintentional, but at other times it is deliberate,” he said.

“With the website in Hindi and Urdu we will try to reach out to large number of people in India and try and tell them our side of the story and also answers and queries that many of them may have,” the official added.

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