‘Nari Shakti’ or women power is the Oxford Dictionaries Hindi Word of the Year 2018: Here’s why this phrase ruled the year

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Oxford Dictionaries announced ‘nari shakti’ as its Hindi Word of the Year for 2018 yesterday. Derived from Sanskrit, ‘nari’ means women’ and ‘shakti’ means power’. Today the term is used to symbolize women taking charge of their own lives. The Hindi Word of the Year is a word or expression that has attracted a great deal of attention and reflects the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past year.

In 2018, there is no question that ‘nari shakti’ has risen to effect change, working to enshrine women’s rights and ensure that all women across the Hindi-speaking world and beyond are empowered.

This is why ‘Nari Shakti’ has been chosen as Oxford’s Hindi Word of the Year.

How did ‘nari shakti’ become highly used in India in 2018?

1. ‘Nari shakti’ drew focused attention in 2018, largely thanks to efforts by the Government of India and Hindi speakers nationwide to realize aims for inclusive development.

2. This has led to new initiatives being established, existing laws being revised, and the championing of the #MeToo campaign which has helped facilitate women’s rights and empowerment across all areas of Indian society.

3.March 2018 recorded a large spike in the use of nari shakti’ as discussion arose around the Government of India’s Nari Shakti Puraskar (Women Power Award) held on the International Women’s Day.

Recognizing exceptional achievement by women who have broken stereotypes and chartered new paths in their contributions to society, the awards sent the tone for the rest of the year with the use of ‘nari shakti’ gaining greater momentum.

5. Supreme Court decisions boosting the use of ‘nari shakti’: Two major decisions taken by the Supreme Court also significantly contributed to the prominence of ‘nari shakti’ in 2018 a ban on ‘triple-talaq’, the controversial Islamic practice of instant divorce’, and the taking down of a rule that disallowed girls and women entry to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

6. Other impactful changes empowering women included:

  • the lifting of the ban on women going to Haj without a Mehram or male companion
  • women being accepted into inter-combat roles in the armed forces
  • the expansion of the hugely successful government sponsored Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save the girl child, Educate girl child) campaign
  • the opening of 200 one-stop centres to help women facing violence across the country
  • and the opening of a universal helpline dedicated to forming international alliances to tackle cybercrime and the online harassment of women head-on

Who were involved in selecting the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2018?

The Word of the Year was formally announced on Saturday, January 26, at the Jaipur Literature Festival where it was subject of a panel discussion with Saurabh Dwivedi, journalist, Editor-in-Chief of thelallantop.com and former Associate Editor at AajTak, Neelesh Misra, founder of Gaon Connection and former Deputy Executive Editor of the Hindustan Times, Geetanjali Sree, author and playwright, Rakshanda Jalil, award-winning translator, critic, and literary historian, Pravin Kumar, assistant professor of Hindi at the University of Delhi, and Akhil Katyal, teacher in creative writing at Ambedkar University, Delhi.

The Hindi Word of the Year was chosen by the Oxford Dictionaries team in India with the help of an advisory panel of language experts:

  • Ashok Kumar Sharma is a Hindi Language Champion and Advisor at the Public Relation Society of India
  • Kritika Agrawal is a Hindi Language Champion, Lawyer (Oxford), polyglot, and Indian language expert
  • Namita Gokhale is writer, publisher and festival director. She is the author of 16 works of fiction and non-fiction, and co-founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and Mountain Echoes, the Bhutan Literature Festival
  • Randhir Thakur is Associate Commissioning Editor, Hindi, Oxford University Press India
  • Saurabh Dwivedi is a Journalist, Editor in Chief of thelallantop.com and former Associate Editor AajTak
  • Vijay Nandan is a Hindi Language Champion, freelancer, writer and translator

’Nari Shakti’ or women power is reflective of the renewed power of women that came to the fore in 2018, said Oxford Dictionaries Language Champion, Kritika Agrawal

It is representative of the courage that women derived and the feeling of sisterhood which was stronger than ever before. It is a sentiment, and that sentiment is being carried forward in 2019. Nari Shakti is a movement involving both men and women, and a reminder that we need to keep fighting the good fight, she added.

Word selection panellist, Namita Gokhale said: Nari Shakti’ encapsulates the spirit of our times, with all its struggles, challenges, and triumphs.

FAQs

What is the Oxford Hindi Word of the Year?

Oxford Dictionaries: As part of our ongoing research into modern Hindi we are undertaking a search for an Oxford Dictionaries Hindi Word of the Year (HWOTY). The Hindi Word of the Year will be a word, phrase, or expression that has attracted a great deal of interest over the last 12 months. The word chosen should reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the year.

The HWOTY need not have been coined within the past twelve months and it does not have to be a word that will stick around for a good length of time: it is very difficult to predict accurately which new words will have staying power.

While the HWOTY has great resonance for the year in which it was chosen, it doesn’t mean that the word will automatically go into any Oxford dictionaries.

Why have you chosen Hindi, not other Indian languages?

OD: We’ve recently made our Hindi dictionary available online at hi.oxforddictionaries.com and so we have a large number of users who are able to help us with our search for a Hindi Word of the Year.

In future years, we might also look for a Word of the Year in other Indian languages.

How can Oxford decide what the Hindi Word of the Year should be?

OD: Oxford has been creating dictionaries for over 150 years and our dictionary editors in India and around the world have developed expertise in monitoring how language is used by real people.

To further supplement our research we’re both calling on Hindi speakers across India to send us their Word of the Year suggestions and consulting with a panel of experts from a range of backgrounds.

How were the advisory panellists chosen?

OD: The members of advisory panel were invited to be part of Hindi Word of the Year (a voluntary role) because they have knowledge and expertise that enables them to make a contribution to the selection process.

We’re delighted to have such an exceptional group of people involved with Oxford Word of the Year.

About Oxford Dictionaries

Oxford Dictionaries is part of Oxford University Press (OUP). Our mission is to provide reliable, evidence-based, up-to-date dictionaries. We are dedicated to improving communication through an understanding of, and a passion for, language.

We’ve been making dictionaries for more than 150 years and we continue to innovate, developing new tools and services as they are made possible by new technologies.

About Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Established in 1912, OUP India has grown to be one of the largest publishers in the region, with a strong presence in India and the neighbouring countries, including Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Headquartered in Delhi, it has regional offices in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai.

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