Legendary litterateur Ratilal Chandaria passed away on Sunday after a short illness. He was 91 years old and incidentally, he was born on the Dussehra day in 1922.
Literature circles in the city were sorry for the loss but promised to cherish the legends he has left behind.
Rati kaka — as he was popularly known — has been an inspirational figure as an industrialist and a philanthropist. But what he was most celebrated for was he was the founder of GujaratiLexicon, Digital Bhagwadgomandal and several other Gujarati language initiatives to digitise and contemporise Gujarati language across the globe.
GujaratiLexicon is the world's biggest Gujarati language resource portal. He started the project 25 years ago with the simple mission to serve his mother. He wanted to create avenues for people to love and relish Gujarati Language.
His relentless passion and missionary zeal for the language moved across continents and organisations. The launch of GujaratiLexicon on January 13, 2006 as a mega language portal was a starting point for several other ongoing language initiatives.
Saras Spellchecker, Lok-Kosh, Digital Sarth Kosh, Crossword, Quiz, GL Gems, Kids Games and GL Mobile Apps have enlarged people’s vision about the language. GujaratiLexicon has worked with CDAC, GV, GSP and other organisations to spread the love and power of Gujarati Language.
GujaratiLexicon has digitised and created online version of Gujarati’s mega encyclopedic work, Bhagwadgomandal. It is archived in the US Congress Library and British Library Catalogue as a landmark work of Gujarati. The cumulative visits to GujaratiLexicon sites have crossed 25 million — apart from it being installed on lakhs of PCs and mobile devices.
Though lived in different continents, Rati kaka was very much grounded in Gujarati culture. He had his primary and secondary education in Nairobi and Mombasa.
At the beginning of Second World War, he migrated to India. He returned to Nairobi in 1946 to join family trading activities and travelled extensively in East and Central Africa.
During the early ﬁfties, the family diversiﬁed their interest from trading to industry in Kenya and other countries. He moved to Dar-es-Salaam in 1960. In 1965, he moved to London and then for a short period to Geneva before moving to Singapore in 1975.