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|February 2, 1999||
Tamilnet 99, an international conference and seminar on Tamil in information technology, is being organised by the Tamil Nadu government in Madras on February 7 and 8.
It would standardise a Tamil keyboard and adopt a common coding standard in the natural language, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has said.
Different keyboard layouts and coding systems in Tamil are confusing Tamil software users and nobody has yet taken an initiative set standards, the chief minister explained.
Because Tamil Nadu is the birthplace of the Tamil language, the state has taken the initiative and is confident that a consensus on the standards would be reached at the conference and would be accepted by Tamils all over the country, he hopes.
Karunanidhi has said that the conference would also focus on producing more learning technology in Tamil and the use of the language in multimedia, the Internet and computing in general.
The rapid development of the Internet and communication technologies has attracted the attention of Tamils everywhere, particularly those living abroad. The language itself has gained substantial presence on the Internet, he claims.
Tamil software is quite popular on the Internet and hundreds of Tamil sites have been developed for information and literature ranging from the Sangam period to newspapers from India. The use of Tamil on the Internet is far greater than any other Indian language, Karunanidhi claims.
However, different coding systems and keyboards have confused the picture, he regretted. If the situation were not rectified, there would be many different forms of Tamil on the Internet. The Tamil text created by one software is not compatible with the text created by another software, the chief minister has pointed out. This would make users of Tamil in computers remain in isolated islands.
Karunanidhi has explained that the reason for the initiative is also to take the Internet to the common people of his state. "The success of the use of the Internet by the people of state in the proposed 1,000 Internet centres in association with WorldTel depends on this," he says.
"Our ultimate objective is that a common man living in Kanyakumari should be able to chat not only with a Tamil living in Kashmir but also in California while using the Internet," Karunanidhi says.
Murasoli Maran, chairman of the reception committee and Prof M Anandakrishnan, chairman of the sub-committee of the state's IT Task Force have said preliminary discussions on the issue have been held over the last 45 days for finalising the Tamil keyboard, involving software experts from Tamil speaking countries.
In the last two meetings a consensus has been reached, they said. In word processing, there are about 50 Tamil software and about 200 fonts. Email software and word-processing software have been developed in the last six months, they added.
Maran said countries like China, Japan and the Arab nations have already standardised keyboards and adopted common coding system for their respective languages.
Official delegates are expected from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore, they said.
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