Google seems to be doing a much better job of remembering Indian heroes than India herself. Take today’s doodle, for example. The internet search engine is celebrating Savitribai Phule’s 186th birthday with a doodle of the Marathi feminist icon embracing a much-exploited group of women of her time.

If you still remember your history lessons, you will remember that Savitribai was a farmer’s daughter who was married at nine to 12-year-old Jyotirao Phule. A reformist, he can be credited with teaching her to read and write; and together, they opened India’s first women’s school in Bhide Wada in Pune in 1848. Savitribai was also a champion of young widows, especially those who were raped and impregnated.  A superhero of her time – and even ours –  Savitribai deserves the doodle and the accompanying slew of articles that chronicles her work. It’s a great way of celebrating her legacy.

Internet Celebrities

Google has been celebrating global icons and world events for years. Since 1998, in fact. That’s when Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed the ultimate out of office reply – a stick figure hiding behind the second O in the logo – to indicate that they were attending the Burning Man Festival.

Things have gotten a little more creative since then. The Google logo now regularly morphs into a moving picture (think video clips and games), supported by sound and music, like this one honouring apro Freddie Mercury.

In an article in the Guardian, Google’s doodler-in-chief, Ryan Germick said the idea is to do “something as creative and fun as possible for as many people as possible.” And a lot of research goes into these works. For example, to commemorate the celebrated dancer Martha Graham’s 117th birthday, Google asked her dance company’s principle dancer to perform for them so they could animate her moves.

Google India’s 2016 doodles have been fun, if not inventive. This year the company invited entries for its Doodle 4 Google competition and picked this sketch by Anvita Telang as its logo celebrating Children’s Day on November 14. They also celebrated cartoonist Mario Miranda, RB Burman and the camel-mounted Border Security Force, who for the 66th year in a row, participated in Republic Day celebrations.

Also worth mentioning is the doodle on Pandit Ravi Shankar, created to celebrate his 96th birthday this year. Paying particular attention to detail, artist Kevin Laughlin chose to render an exact copy of Shankar’s sitar, complete with two bridges (for drone and melody strings) and gourd-shaped resonator at the top of the drum.

What we’d like to see next, though, is a doodle that’s more interactive – one like this one created for Alan Turing.

See more India-inspired Google Doodles here.

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