Birua hails from a small nondescript village named Dighiabeda in Mayurbhanja district. To fulfil his dream to make Ho language and script acceptable in the digital world, he now lives in a rented house in Baripada, 100Km away from his village. Working in a photo studio he earns a small amount to fulfil his basic needs. Most of his time is spent in the efforts to make Ho language and script usable for commoners on social media and other platforms of the internet.
Love of mother tongue:
He got hooked to the love for development of Ho tribal language few years back. He claims to be the first person of his village to use internet. In 2014 he opened up his Facebook account. But he could not find his mother tongue on the internet. Warang Citi, the script of Ho tribal language was nowhere on the web. Birua himself also did not know the script of Ho language.
He learnt the Ho language and script in detail. Then he started posting Ho letters and words on his Facebook page. In 2018 he enhanced his efforts and opened accounts on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to promote Ho language and script. He also started a blog named ‘Elabu Etona Warang Citi (Let us learn Warang Citi)’. It was an effort to make people learn the script of Ho language.
Birua’s digital activism was noticed by people thousands of kilometres away. In April 2021 a student in Silicon Valley created a Braille script for Ho language and sought Birua’s approval. Birua’s Ho dictionary project was discovered by Subhashish Panigrahi, a digital language researcher of Bengaluru. Santhali and Ho are identified as vulnerable languages by the UNESCO. Panigrahy was working with a volunteer community involved in creating the building blocks of foundational technologies in Santhali and Ho. Birua’s social media handles became major sources for development of Ho.
Now Birua is able to write Ho language on computer and smartphones. From December he is busy with efforts to monetise Ho language contents on the internet. He has already developed a module for online teaching of Ho language and script. In future he wants to organise offline Ho language learning camps in tribal villages. He is developing teaching tools for the offline teaching. He feels his efforts to revitalise the Ho language and script will strengthen the demand for its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule of Indian Constitution.