gulmohur Translation Collective: 2024

The second cohort of our Translation Collective started with great enthusiasm on June 09, 2024. We're currently a batch of 37 translators, along with 5 group coordinators, working in Assamese, Bengali, Hindi Malayalam, Marathi, and Tamil. This batch will work with a six-month project timeline from June to November 2024. We'll work with peer-feedback and review processes, supplemented with workshops and reading-discussion sessions.

We wish all our members the very best and look forward to an exciting journey ahead.

Jerry Pinto says, “all translations are ultimately a failure. But they are the noblest failures.” With this noble failure in mind, so Beckettian in spirit, we welcome you all to the gulmohur Translation Collective.

We envision this as a voluntary, group-based project where we can work at the translation of texts from Indian languages. The Collective is open to all who can read and write in English and any of the Indian languages with confidence. The choice of text, the possibilities of translations, editing, and polishing the work could be decided by groups of 4-5 people based on your language interest and proficiency. You can become part of the group as a translator, editor, or reviewer. We are very grateful to our past contributors and translators and would be delighted to see them as part of this Collective.

In this Collective, gulmohur will play the role of a facilitator and a publishing platform too. The translations could be published in the quarterly issues of the magazine. We are also in the process of working with regional publications to figure out the prospects of such a collective literary endeavour. We believe that there are literary works in many languages that have been neglected for reasons of commerce, censorship of content, and preferences of certain literary styles, or otherwise. We hope, through this collective attempt, to approach texts with a serious engagement as translators and to make them accessible in English.

Our second cohort is currently working from June to November 2024.

WELCOME! image

Month 1

orientation and planning; a joint or individual proposal with details about the author and copyrights; a broad justification for the text’s choice (500 words); seeking permission and resolving copyright issues


Month 2

a review meeting to plan the tasks; outline of the whole project; division of labour; anticipating challenges; coordination


Month 3

submission of a first draft (at whatever stage of completion) for peer review and feedback; review meeting; attending workshop and discussion sessions


Month 4

working with feedback and review; external help/ resource person if required; submission of second draft; copy editing


Month 5

final revisions; submission of final draft; peer-review; external review


Month 6

proofreading; final changes to the text; preparing submission for publication; finding avenues for publication

The Translation Collective is a voluntary, peer-learning group initiative, coordinated by gulmohur. This collective was created to provide a platform for writers and translators interested in translating fiction, poetry, and non-fiction from the Indian languages into English. We believe that translators could benefit immensely by working in peer-groups with feedback and review processes. They can hone their skills as translators by donning multiple hats by translating, copy editing, reviewing, and proofreading.

For all practical purposes, within the collective, you’ll be concerned with your own language subgroup of 4-5 people and the coordinators. This involves decisions and discussions related to the texts taken up for translation, editing, proofreading, etc. However, the larger group will also take up interactive sessions or workshops on the craft of literary translations, criticism, and other possible subjects.

Note: The coordinators will not engage in everyday discussions and decisions of the groups but are assigned to the language subgroups to assist in their smooth functioning and communication.
In three years of publishing our quarterly magazine, we have come across many individual translators and their passion for writers/poets within their linguistic traditions. An individual, however, might find themselves filled with self-doubt or uncertainty about where to begin. The translated Indian literature available in English, due to relentless efforts of many translators in recent years, has also gained wider attention and appreciation. However, there is a lack of platforms for translators to come together and help each other in translating texts and figure out new possibilities in the world of literary translation. We, therefore, envision this collective as a mutually enabling pedagogic experience where we not only hone our translation skills but also expand our literary sensibilities.
You must be confident in your reading and writing abilities in English and at least one of the Indian languages. We expect a writing sample (published/unpublished of about 1500 words) in your application. You must be willing to work with a diverse peer group. You must be able to commit weekly 6-8 hours of your time. We encourage experienced translators as well as enthusiasts to participate in this learning experience.
The groups have to complete the undertaken projects within six months. However, in exceptional cases, an extension can be considered.

Here is the timeline:

First month:  orientation and planning; a joint or individual proposal with details about the author and copyrights; a broad justification for the text’s choice (500 words); seeking permission and resolving copyright issues.

Second month: a review meeting to plan the tasks; outline of the whole project; division of labour; anticipating challenges; coordination.

Third month: submission of a first draft (at whatever stage of completion) for peer review and feedback; review meeting; attending workshop and discussion sessions.

Fourth month: working with feedback and review; external help/ resource person if required; submission of second draft; copy editing.

Fifth month: final revisions; submission of final draft; peer-review; external review.

Sixth month: proofreading; final changes to the text; preparing submission for publication; finding avenues for publication.
So, there are two levels on which you pitch your proposal to translate before you begin translation. This is to avoid abandonment due to confusion at a later stage.

If a subgroup wishes to translate a text/author, the members are required to provide a broad justification for the text’s choice (500 words). We suggest the groups take this up earnestly and reach the decision after detailed discussions in the first month.

If an individual chooses to translate a different text they may do so with the group's approval. They have to follow the same instructions: submit a proposal with a broad justification for the text’s choice (500 words). Please note that you can choose individual texts, however, it is a group project and you are expected to work closely with the group and follow the same process as others (peer-learning is the basis of this collective).

These proposals/ pitches are mainly to ensure that as group-work we devote our energies to mutually agreeable projects. As we see it, elimination will be a rare event, depending on copyrights or other objectionable issues.

There are no guidelines here precisely because there’s no one kind of good literature. However, it would be highly appreciated if the groups choose texts/authors who have not been widely translated. (Translating famous writers would also mean tedious processes to obtain permissions and copyrights). Also, it would be advisable to refrain from works that are orthodox (sexist, casteist, xenophobic) in their central concerns, unless one sees a literary/ political justification for their translation.
Absolutely! Here’s how we go about it.

Step 1. Locate the text’s latest published source and find out if the copyrights are attributed to the author or the publisher. [This you can usually find on the first few pages of a book.]

Step 2. Obtain the publisher or author’s email. [You may have to ask the publisher for the author’s email in some cases.]

Step 3. Draft a convincing letter seeking permission and email it to the author/ publisher.

Step 4. The request will either be simply accepted, rejected, or subjected to consideration depending on a translation sample. These can be clarified over email exchanges.

Step 5. In case there is no response, we can write from gulmohur and make a similar request. There wouldn’t seem anything more to do unless you have persuasive suggestions.
Since there is no one way to get permission, we’ll find this out as we progress. As of now, gulmohur and the collective are not registered. So, individuals might have to approach authors/ publishers on their own; but we can provide assistance in terms of persuading or holding conversations, if need be.
This would depend upon the group’s decision. There are two ways however as we see this. One is that each member takes up a different text (by the same or different authors) and assists each other edit and proofreading in turns. The other is that members take up different portions of the same text (say a longer text like a novella or essay) and figure out a way to synthesize the translated work. But, in terms of numbers, any number of texts can be taken up, as long as the group is comfortably able to dedicate efforts toward it and submit the work within the time period.
Following are the possibilities of publication so far. It will of course depend on the terms of permission obtained. We could publish the work in our quarterly issues, in some anthology form, or in a separate section on the gulmohur website. We can alternatively seek publishers who would like to publish the work and see what prospects are available. This can be done both during and after the translation is done.
Yes, we would like to. The translators and authors/ publishers will have a say in determining this. If there’s a prospect of getting the work published elsewhere, we would encourage it and support it in every way within our capacity.
The translator(s) gets the primary credit for the work. However, it would be a nice practice to credit fellow editors and proofreaders within the subgroup, who have assisted in the translation process.
As of now, there are no monetary compensations. In case of pitching the translated work to another publisher, it would certainly be liable to negotiation.
We’re open to working with all Indian languages and dialects as long as there are enough people (minimum 4) to form a group. As of yet, we have majorly considered only translations from Indian languages into English.  
Email is the mode of communication within the larger collective. However, the subgroups can choose to form discussion groups on WhatsApp, Signal, Google Groups or any other forum they find convenient. For the day-to-day activities and updates a dashboard will be shared with the members where they must update their progress and can also comment and raise queries. We’re also planning to have a WhatsApp group to enable us to get informal feedback, suggestions from the participants and to facilitate general discussions regarding the projects.
This is a voluntary collective with literary pursuits. It is understandable that we might have our routine lives and responsibilities to take care of and might not be available consistently. However, please understand that it’s a collective, a peer-learning endeavour, and you must ensure your participation as a member of the group and attend meetings and follow the timeline for the smooth functioning of the collective. A minimum of 6-8 hours of weekly commitment would be reasonable. We would be slightly skeptical of the spectator tendency. If you find it difficult to participate in the group’s activities, due to personal reasons or such, you can perhaps withdraw or let your group know of your difficulties and join again later when you’re better placed.
This and such logistical issues have to be figured out by individual groups. There’s no standard solution for such difficulties. We strongly believe where there’s a will there’s a way.
Currently, we’re working based on mutual trust and support. However, if there are any strenuous situations in the future, we could figure out an adequate response to those.
Yes, that seems to be the only way if people from different places are participating. However, within linguistic subgroups, if you’re a bunch of people from the same city or town, it would be a good idea to meet up and discuss once in a while. After all, a collective has to infuse a sense of belonging and community.
The Translation Collective is a non-hierarchical, semi-structured platform. We at gulmohur have zero tolerance against any form of discrimination or bullying, mental/ emotional/ sexual harassment of individuals. If any such incident is brought to our notice, we’ll inquire into the matter and take appropriate action. We all must remain sensitive to our mutual differences and uphold a democratic and enabling work ethic.
In case of any doubts/ ambiguities, please drop us an email at We'll respond as soon as possible.