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Updated: March 7, 2014 01:29 IST

‘Mandate Tamil support for devices sold in TN’

Karthik Subramanian
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A section of Tamil scholars and IT experts have recommended the State government mandate that all devices sold in the state are 'Tamil-enabled'. The screen capture shows Tamil keyboard incorporated in Apple's iOS 7 operating system.
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A section of Tamil scholars and IT experts have recommended the State government mandate that all devices sold in the state are 'Tamil-enabled'. The screen capture shows Tamil keyboard incorporated in Apple's iOS 7 operating system.

Any gadget — be it a computer or a smartphone — sold in the State should support Tamil out of the box, a group of Tamil scholars and computing experts have asked the State government to mandate.

Only such State support in ensuring the Tamil script is displayed properly and available for input in all devices will lead to widespread use.

The ramifications of getting manufacturers to enable the devices in Tamil, or whatever the local language, cannot be undermined, especially if we are to bridge the digital divide, according to the participants of a seminar organised by Tamil Virtual Academy in the city this week.

One instance where government mandate helped immensely, according to Mani M. Manivannan, chair of Tamil Unicode Working Group of the International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil, is when the Singapore government mandated the requirement of Tamil support for all computers it procured for its libraries.

This ultimately led to Apple introducing Tamil fonts on its Mac range of computers. “It also meant Apple quickly ported Tamil support to its mobile devices… the iPhone and the iPad. The government mandate eventually helped a lot of Tamil users,” said Mr. Manivannan.

In their draft recommendations to Tamil Nadu government’s IT secretary, Tamil scholars and IT experts have suggested all modern devices — of computing, communication and entertainment, including phones, game consoles and computers — be mandated to support Tamil out of the box, with government-recommended fonts and input method editors with sufficient technology, to render Tamil correctly.

Muthu. Nedumaran, a pioneer in the field of Indic language input method editors, is of the view that Tamil and other Indian languages can be easily enabled on devices by manufacturers themselves, but they have never had any compulsive reasons to do so.

The scenario is a lot different even in South-East Asian countries. In Vietnam or Thailand, for example, almost all devices have been enabled in local languages for several years now.

He said even the Bangladesh government had mandated by law that all mobile phone sellers in the country must include Bengali compulsorily as an input option.

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To the likes of ravishankar and sathish: In what other way can one be assured of preserving our mother tongue? Is it not the duty of every Tamilian to see that his/her mother-tongue prospers and becomes stronger each day? In what way is Tamil inferior to other languages, that you call it a "waste of time" and a "retrogate step" to promote the language in latest Technologies? I am not sure, what your mother tongues are! However, living in the west for many years, as a Tamilian I feel ashamed that this great language has not been given its due yet. I wish this Mandate would be soon implemented and Tamil would see an upsurge.

from:  Dinakaran
Posted on: Mar 7, 2014 at 13:10 IST

Localization is important to take technology to everyone..

Anyone opposing it must be ignorant

from:  Sriram
Posted on: Mar 7, 2014 at 12:50 IST

Dear Mr.Sathish,

Do you think that all mobile users in Tamilnadu are able to understand the tamil text written in latin alphabet? In my experience, only those who are already relatively good in English are able to type Tamil in this manner. Vast majority of users who are newly acquiring mobile devices, especially elderly and rural populace wouldn't be able to make sense of such text. If the technology has to reach majority populace and bridge the digital divide, it is imperative to have native script support.

This is not just about Tamil pride, but a prudent economic move. Increasing the technology reach for underprivileged will help in empowering them and improving their life conditions.

I hope the TN government (as well as other state governments & the centre) take timely action in this matter to ensure support for all major Indian scripts in mobile devices.

from:  Sivaraj
Posted on: Mar 7, 2014 at 11:39 IST

Let these so called "scholars" first request for a mandate for the use
of pure Tamil in those TV channels owned by political parties. What a
weird idea? There are many people who use Tamil for SMS, Whatsapp using
latin alphabet because that's more easy to use. This would only be a
waste of time, money & effort.

from:  Sathish
Posted on: Mar 7, 2014 at 10:13 IST

This is very good suggestion to bring Tamil to next level.

from:  Sankar
Posted on: Mar 7, 2014 at 07:56 IST

Such a legislation would be positively fantastic. Not only would be
transferring the financial and logistical charge of promoting Tamil to
rich MNCs, but it would also give space for local software and may be
even hardware to sprout entrepreneurship. It is the most excellent idea
to get people of all ages engaged with Tamil. That is how the Chinese
and Japanese have done it.

from:  Na. Palaniappan
Posted on: Mar 7, 2014 at 05:18 IST

It's a retrograde step.

from:  ravishankar
Posted on: Mar 7, 2014 at 05:02 IST

Is Amma listening?

from:  Rajendran
Posted on: Mar 7, 2014 at 04:04 IST
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