Tamil: from my IPSE DIXIT to everyone's DE FACTO to their DE JURE, in just ~3100 days

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/05/10 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2010/05/10/10010062.aspx

There are a non-trivial number of times that I have been right about stuff where no one decide to take my advice.

And it would ultimately cost them.

Like the infamous one dozen bugs of Access 97 that I insisted would be important to fix because they were in my opinion recall class that were denied in triage or sooner (all of which were fixed in QFEs and service packs, at much higher cost).

Other people championed many of those bugs, of course; it was by no means me against the universe. It was just that the 12 only had me in common as a thing.

In the end, it can be hard to be a vendor (as I was then) and be overruled that way since I was not being paid to care, though there is a sense of satisfaction in knowing that ultimately one was saying the right thing, trying to do the right thing.

Eventually, I took my solace in the fact that I behaved ethically, and if my advice wouldn't be followed, the people who ignored the advice were ultimately the ones paying the price.

Then there was that other time.

It was just a few months shy of nine years ago.

In Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.

Speaking at Tamil Internet 2001, I literally spent more time in the air getting to just about as close to the equator as I've ever been than I spent on the ground there.

Somewhere in the world of experts that gave birth either before or in the years after to the Tamil ISCII encoding coming out of India, the TAM and TAB and TUNE and TANE and TACE16 encodings coming out of Tamil Nadu, the TSCII encoding coming from Tamil folks outside of India and TN, and the myriad of font-based encodings used by websites across the world, in a massive state of confusion that had 3/4 of the items I just listed out there in the wild.

I stood toe to toe in front of Dr. M. Ponnavaikko (later the founder director of Tamil Virtual University) and implored him to move TN to Unicode.

Because, I argued, it was going to happen eventually anyway, and the current plan would hold it back by a decade, maybe even longer.

And if it happens ten years sooner then Tamil will be that much more developed, more advanced in the space.

Well, as reported in The Hindu last week:

CHENNAI: As use of Information Technology spreads in the government, the IT Department is lining up a host of policies aimed at facilitating and regulating the process, IT Minister Poongothai Aladi Aruna informed the Assembly on Monday.

Replying to the debate on the demands for grants of her department, Dr. Poongothai said her department was working on information security policy, e-governance policy and e-waste policy. These would be unveiled soon.

As a first step, all departments would be asked to prepare a three-year e-governance plan with “clearly laid out steps on what will be achieved every year.”

The Minister explained that such a plan would include a roadmap, comprising software application development, required IT infrastructure, capacity building plan and process of re-engineering. Once this was in place, an e-governance news letter would be brought out to share the best practices.

An e-office application to help government departments process files at a better speed and to ensure effective and responsive governance was also on the cards. This is now being developed for use at the State Secretariat. A similar e-office application would be developed for district collectorates.

The Minister said that it was because most of the Tamil fonts, being used by the government, were in the proprietary domain that the growth of Tamil on the Internet had been restricted. To ensure widespread use of Tamil on the internet, Unicode would be made the standard for Tamil encoding. This would enable free fonts to be utilised by all government departments and the people would also be able to receive information on the internet and via e-mail.

Glossaries in Tamil, including those published by the International Academy for Internet Tamil, would be made available in the Wiktionary. The department also planned to hold online competitions in Tamil every year to promote Tamil content.

G2C services

The department proposes to use Common Service Centres better to deliver government to citizen services (G2C services). This had been re-named the People's Computer Centre and would be the front-end delivery points for government, private and social sector services. The aim was to make all government services accessible to the common man within the locality in a more efficient, transparent and reliable manner at affordable cost.

I guess my ten year prediction was a shade to pessimistic since it was really just under nine years.

Though as that bit in red (emphasis mine) said:

To ensure widespread use of Tamil on the internet, Unicode would be made the standard for Tamil encoding.

I am glad that this is now being recognized as the official direction, and I look forward to the productive work that TVU can potentially do in this space, going forward.

Nine years isn't that long of a period of time. Especially since so many others were using Unicode all that time anyway....

Some of the conversations that will be happening next month in Kovai and Chennai that I'll be participating in are shaping up to be about the next steps. With a very receptive audience of people who are ready for the future and excited to be a part of it. In the context of an even larger cultural get together with linguists and artists and musicians.

And (as Kermit would have noted) the lovers, the dreamers, and me....

Pavanaja U B on 10 May 2010 9:33 PM:

That is a good news. Soon you will here something similar about Kannada

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