[Reader-list] National norm for language computing

Monica Narula monica at sarai.net
Tue Dec 11 13:06:02 IST 2001

 From CDAC (Centre for the Development of advanced Computing, India) 
website, although it must be said that that they have been working on 
this for many years by now!

National norm for language computing gets on its way
Dated December 04, 2001
Economic Times
The ten-year-old problem of lack of standards in Indian language 
computing is moving towards a solution. The Language Technology 
Consortium formed a year ago by MAIT, with representatives from the 
IT industry, making some headway at last in evolving a National 
Standard for Font Layouts and Character Encoding. Ironically, the 
"national" standard may have to co-exist with the international 
standard, which is based on an earlier version of what would be the 
national standard!

To date, growth of computing in Indian languages has been retarded 
due to adhoc standards and proliferation of proprietary software. 
Consumers have been taken for a ride, as the multiple packages in use 
simply don't talk to each other. Representatives from leaders in the 
segment like Modular Infotech, Summit Infotech, TVS Finance, IT 
giants like Microsoft and IBM and representatives from the government 
including the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) 
and National Centre for Software Technology have drafted a layout for 
Devanagari (used in Hindi, Marathi, Konkani and Sanskrit) and 
Gujarati. The Devanagari draft has been referred to the Ministry of 
Information Technology and expert opinions from state governments are 
awaited. A similar exercise is on for Malyalam and Punjabi as well. 
When the drafts are finalized they would be put on the MAIT website, 
to elicit public opinion before announcing them as the National 
Standard for Font Layout.

However, the national standard, in itself, may not be the answer to 
problems of language computing as it is likely to co-exist with 
Unicode - an international standard which has changed alphabetical 
order, omitted some characters, included unused ones and does not 
have currency signs. As Mr. M.N. Cooper, Joint MD, Modular Infotech 
says, "Our effort is mainly to revisit the Indian Script Standard 
Code for Information Interchange (ISCII) of '91 and make further 
Monica Narula
Sarai:The New Media Initiative
29 Rajpur Road, Delhi 110 054

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