How this 22-year-old carpenter from Jodhpur fought against all odds to become a Hindi Wikipedia contributor

Raju Jangid began writing his own content on Wikipedia in Hindi in 2015. Shreesha Ghosh uncovers the story of this carpenter-turned-Wikipedia contributor
Photo: Raju Jangid
Photo: Raju Jangid

Dedication. Yearning to learn new things. All this defines 22-year-old Raju Jangid, who had to quit his studies after Class 10 and start working as a carpenter to support his family's financial needs. Hailing from a small Jodhpur village named Thadiya, Raju overcame all his financial constraints to become a Hindi Wikipedia contributor. Since 2015, he has contributed over 18,090 articles and done at least 57,000 edits on the Hindi Wikipedia page.

His tryst with Wikipedia began in 2011 when he was in Class 8. "I watched a Bollywood movie and had taken my sister-in-law's mobile to check some information about it on Google. That's when Wikipedia came up in the search, right at the top. When I began searching for other stuff, Wikipedia came up almost every single time. I decided that I wanted to create a Wikipedia page of my own when I grow up. I didn't know then that you can't just go ahead and create your own page if you aren't notable or someone famous. Then, I began researching more about page creators, contributors, editors and how Wikipedia works," Raju recalls.

Raju began writing his own content on Wikipedia in Hindi in 2015. "Hindi is my mother tongue and I couldn't find enough content in Hindi on Wikipedia. I wanted to provide as much information on important things in the Hindi language as I could. When I began writing, I realised that there were existing Wikipedia pages for a lot of places and areas in other languages, however, there were none for my village or even any of the smaller villages nearby. So, I began writing about my own village and the areas close by. This would reach an audience who cannot read English and they would get to know about these remote places. I edited the pages that were already existent and added more information to make them more resourceful," explains Raju.

As easy as it may sound, all of this was not a walk in the park for the youngster. "I did not have a laptop, I had just a basic phone. I couldn't write a lot on that. There were times when I would type long paragraphs and the phone would automatically hang and all that information would be lost. My phone would suddenly shut down in between," he shares. Initially, Raju had also tried creating his own page a few times. "Other writers and editors on Wikipedia told me that there are rules to create these pages. That's when in 2015, I created a Wikipedia contributor account and began writing regularly. I also learnt that the Wikipedia platform is a non-profit and contributors don't earn from it," he adds.

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In 2016, things changed for Raju when Wikipedia recognised his work and gifted him a laptop and a free internet connection at one of their conventions. Since then, there has been no looking back for the 22-year-old. Raju has attended numerous Wikipedia conferences across the country. Sharing his experiences from there, he says, "We plan ahead, we discuss how to increase active users, how to make more pages. That's what happens at these conferences. It had also become a lot easier to write and edit with the help of the laptop. I could write longer articles."

Raju's education remained incomplete after Class 10 as he left for Pune to become a carpenter. When he began writing for Wikipedia, he was still working as a carpenter for some time. "I saved money and appeared for private exams of Class 12 and then pursued graduation through distance education," says Raju. He completed his graduation in Arts in 2018, quit his job as a carpenter and decided to look for something in content writing. "I liked what I did for Wikipedia. So, I wanted to earn my livelihood as a writer. I worked for a company in Gurugram before COVID-19 struck. Currently, I am doing a lot of freelance work in Jodhpur," he adds.

Raju also began contributing to SWASTHA — Special Wikipedia Awareness Scheme For Healthcare Affiliates, which provides crucial information on COVID-19 in Hindi. "I write in Hindi, others write in several other languages such as Marathi, Gujarati, etc," adds Raju. He has also launched another page called Wiki Cricket. "My fascination with the game of cricket led to me write about it. I wanted to become a cricketer but due to financial constraints, I couldn't pursue that dream. Hindi Wikipedia did not have many pages about cricket. So far, I have written around 700 articles on the game," he shares.

After this, Raju wants to set up Wikipedia pages in Marwadi language too. "I also want more users, contributors, writers to come join us and write more articles in Hindi. I feel we need to work more in setting up regional language content on Wikipedia," concludes Raju.

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