O Foundation Conversations

In our podcast — O Foundation Conversations — we invite global leaders to discuss the diversity of societies, languages and cultures, and geopolitics  and conflicts. Each episode looks at unique perspectives on such topics through intimate conversations. Through these conversations we also look through the lenses of marginalization and exclusion, and Openness (Open Culture, Open Knowledge, Open Access and Open Source). All episodes are licensed under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 International License.
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Episode 5: Lesser-known Languages of North Pakistan

With Zubair Torwali, Torwali-languageactivist from North Pakistan  | August 9, 2020

This episode of “O Foundation Conversations” is an intimate conversation with Zubair Torwali who is a prominent language-activist from North Pakistan. Mr. Torwali has been working for the last 15 years for the protection and growth of his own language Torwali and 30 other languages of his region.Did you know that 9th of August is the “International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples”? It marks the inaugural session by the United Nations “Working Group on Indigenous  Populations” that has been working for protecting the indigenous rights since 1982. As social, political and environmental changes often put indigenous communities under risk, this day, of many things, is also a reminder for everyone to protect the rights of indigenous communities. And access to information in one’s own language is a fundamental human right too. Mr. Torwali and his organization “idara baraye taleem-o-taraqi” (Institute for Education and Development) have been working closely with the communities of northern Pakistan for the preservation and documentation of their respective languages and cultures, and for also creating digital resources for the growth of these languages.In this episode, Mr. Torwali shares some key recommendations that other language activists can use in their work,  and his words of hope affirming that communities sharing languages across borders will continue to work together.


  1. Torwali, Zubair. “Countering the challenges of globalization faced by endangered languages of North Pakistan”. Language Documentation and Description,  vol 17. (Ed. Peter K. Austin). (Accessed 8 August 2020)
  2. Torwali, Zubair. “Short documentary on IBT work on Torwali language and culture”. (Accessed 8 August 2020)
  3. Torwali, Zubair. “|Qismat Si Qissa| قسمت سی قصّہ | Torwali Folktale | The Luck| Animated by #IBT”. (Accessed 8 August 2020)
  4. Torwali, Zubair. “Angaag o Bangaag| آنگاگ او بانگاگ Torwali Folktale| Animated| IBT|”. (Accessed 8 August 2020)
  5. Rising Voices. “Q&A: Meet Zubair Torwali, Torwali language activist“. (Accessed 8 August 2020)
  6.  “’توروالی‘ اپنی مادری زبان کیسے بچا رہے ہیں؟” (in Urdu). Independent Urdu.

MUSIC: Freesound pieces: gutiyvon. YVONNE GuitarArpeggiation. (CC0 1.0); quetzalcontla. Warm guitar rhythm Intro. (CC-BY 3.0); Additional music: Subhashish Panigrahi

2020. © Subhashish Panigrahi and O Foundation. CC-BY-SA 4.0 International License.

Episode 4: Imagining a Digital Future for the Santali Language

With Maina Tudu, R Ashwani Banjan Murmu, Manik Soren, Fagu Baskey and Ramjit Tudu—all Santali Wikipedia editors | July 24, 2020

Would you consider the language and culture of a community of 7.6 million people in danger, especially when the language is recognized as one of the 22 provincial official languages in the world’s largest democracy? It is, and it is much more than that, when you look at it from the geopolitical, socioeconomic and technical standpoints.

In this episode of our podcast — O Foundation Conversations — we bring you some intimate conversations with Maina Tudu, R. Ashwani Banjan Murmu, Manik Soren, Fagu Baskey and Ramjit Tudu who are all Santali-language Wikipedia editors. Talking about Santali Wikipedia — it is turning two on August 2. Santali Wikipedia is one of the few online resources in the Santali language which is spoken mostly in the eastern India along with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The Santali Wikipedia community has participation from Bangladesh, India and Nepal. Maina, Ashwani, Manik, Fagu and Ramjit are young community leaders who are using digital activism to promote the Santali language and culture in the digital domain, specifically on the internet. This episode was a remote collaboration between O Foundation and the Santali Wikipedia community during the ongoing COVID pandemic. This episode covers the social, political, linguistic and educational landscape through a lens of technology. The ambitions and dreams of the Santali community that our guests amplify will be worth revisiting when India’s new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is implemented.


GUEST: MAINA TUDU, R. ASHWANI BANJAN MURMU, MANIK SOREN, FAGU BASKEY AND RAMJIT TUDU, ADDITIONAL RECORDING: NOAM CHOMSKY (The minimalist program and language acquisition. URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oq5lMTKJiqE. VideoLecturesChannel. CC-BY 3.0, license in video description: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)


  1. Department of Higher Education. “Provisions of the Constitution of India having a bearing on Education”. Retrieved 1 April 2010.

MUSIC/SOUND EFFECTS: Christel Steigenberger. Audio file of the “Happy Birthday” tune whistled. (CC BY-SA 4.0); edtijo. Happy Guitar. https://freesound.org/s/207558/ (CC0 1.0); tim.kahn. guitar loop.aif. https://freesound.org/s/50072/ (CC-BY 3.0); Tudu, Ramjit. “Dhal disom re thari bati (santali folk song)”. CC-BY-SA-4.0; Tudu, Ramjit. “A prayer to supreme god by santhal people”. CC-BY-SA-4.0; Tudu, Ramjit. “Santali folk song by an old man”. CC-BY-SA-4.0; Tudu, Ramjit. “Santali folk dance represents by MPC, BARIPADA student”. CC-BY-SA-4.0;  tim.kahn. guitar loop.aif. https://freesound.org/s/50072/. (CC-BY 3.0); squashy555. computer startup.wav. https://freesound.org/s/273736/ (CC0 1.0); pinkinblue. BirdFish Happy Loop.mp3. https://freesound.org/s/425971/ (CC0 1.0); OSFX. Beach dream (loopable). https://freesound.org/s/420686/ (CC-BY 3.0); MattiaGiovanetti. Tranquillity Atmosphere I. https://freesound.org/s/477837/ (CC-BY 3.0).

  1. © Subhashish Panigrahi and O Foundation. CC-BY-SA 4.0 International License.


The description was updated on August 2, 2020 to reflect commentary about India’s National Education Policy 2020.

Episode 3: Digitally-Documenting the Sundanese Language and Cultural Heritage

With Ilham Nurwansah, Sundanese-language and cultural digital activist | June 24, 2020 | DOI: 10.17613/frzt-b139

The colonization era was complicated for Indonesia, a country with 700 languages, as it is hard to tell if it was helpful or not for the Sundanese language. But Ilham Nurwansah is now on a mission to digitize old text, and share encyclopedic information through Wikipedia. What is known very little about Nurwansah is that he also makes his own musical instrument (see a short documentary of him playing the Sundanese instrument Karinding).

UNESCO estimated that half of the world’s 7,000 languages are in danger. According to the “2020 Decolonizing the Internet’s Languages Report” by Whose Knowledge?, only a mere 7% of the world’s languages are captured in published resources. When it comes to digital content, a much less fraction of these languages is represented.

As the world’s largest island country, In this episode Subhashish Panigrahi, producer of O Foundation Conversations is talking to Ilham Nurwansah who is researching the Sundanese language of Indonesia. Nurwansah is digitizing ancient manuscripts and contributing to the Sundanese-language Wikipedia.



MUSIC/SOUND EFFECTS: edtijo. Happy Guitar. https://freesound.org/s/207558/ (CC0 1.0); tim.kahn. guitar loop.aif. https://freesound.org/s/50072/ (CC-BY 3.0); ShortRecord. happy piano.mp3. https://freesound.org/s/525080/ (CC-BY 3.0); gutiyvon. YVONNE GuitarArpeggiation.wav. https://freesound.org/s/465583/ (CC0 1.0); quetzalcontla. Warm guitar rhythm Intro. https://freesound.org/s/458425/ (CC-BY 3.0)

Episode 2: Knowledge Commons and the Adivasis

With Ankush Vengurlekar and Ashish Birulee, Founding members of Adivasi Lives Matter | May 28, 2020

Adivasis are the indigenous communities in India. There are 104 million Adivasis that speak a few hundred languages but only a handful of them have a access to media of their own. In this episode of O Foundation Conversations, our host Subhashish Panigrahi talks to Ankush Vengurlekar and Ashish Birulee of Adivasi Lives Matter, a platform dedicated to giving a voice to Advisi content producers. Shaped with inspirations from the Black Lives Matter movement, Adivasi Lives Matter provides training to many Adivasi youths on a regular basis who then create stories — text, audio and video. Even the hardship of COVID-19 lockdown has not stopped these content creators who are on a mission to promote their people, languages and cultures online. This episode is only a glimpse of the myriads of activities that Adivasi Lives Matter has been leading.



MUSIC/SOUND EFFECTS: https://freesound.org/people/0ktober/sounds/188828/, https://freesound.org/people/16HPanskaBenda_Jonas/sounds/503635/, https://freesound.org/people/mahammed/sounds/444271/, https://freesound.org/people/Tr4ck3r/sounds/132382/, https://freesound.org/people/InspectorJ/sounds/411162/, https://freesound.org/people/pjcohen/sounds/414447, https://freesound.org/people/SamplingSamTheMarylandMan/sounds/468520/, https://freesound.org/people/swapnil_gt/sounds/255115/, https://freesound.org/people/quetzalcontla/sounds/458425/, https://freesound.org/s/173564/

Episode 1: Indigenous Languages In The Times Of A Pandemic

With Dr. Mandana Seyfeddinipur, Endangered Languages Documentation Programme at the SOAS University of London, UK | April 28, 2020

How can the speakers of indigenous languages be educated during a pandemic like coronavirus? In this episode of O Foundation Conversations, Subhashish Panigrahi speaks to Dr. Mandana Seyfeddinipur who is a linguist and heads the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme at the SOAS University of London. Dr. Seyfeddinipur shares how indigenous and endangered language speakers need to document their language, and recommendations for the government and other authorities to ensure that such speakers get access to critical information (like health advice during COVID-19) in their own language(s). Recorded during the Decolonizing the Internet’s Languages Conference 2019 that was organised by Whose Knowledge? October 2019 in London at the Mozilla Festival 2019.

Transcript (read a blog version)


MUSIC/SOUND EFFECTS: Flight announcement by Subhashish Panigrahi, CC-BY-SA 4.0 YVONNE GuitarArpeggiation.wav by gutiyvon, CC0 1.0 bingBong.wav by stib, CC0 1.0 Warm guitar rhythm Intro by quetzalcontla, CC-BY 3.0 hospital_lobby.flac by tim.kahn (CC-BY 3.0)