N. Anand

CHENNAI: The Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT) is pushing State Government offices to adopt its Tamil fonts equivalent to Avvaiyar from private firm Vanavil.

ELCOT procured 10 desktop fonts with typical desktop computer keyboard layout and one font with Remington keyboard layout from ‘Lastech Systems’ through an open tender. These fonts work with Windows as well as open source (LINUX Operating Systems) environment.

Since 2002, the Government departments have been procuring Avvaiyar font from ‘Vanavil’. ELCOT raised objection to the use of this proprietary font on two counts. First, it violated the Government standard (prescribed during June 1999) and made documents created in Vanavil Avvaiyar font totally proprietary. With the help of other standard TAM/TAB fonts, one cannot view, edit or use the documents created using Vanavil fonts. Besides, it also resulted in loss of money to the exchequer.

“The new fonts enable the users to migrate to and from Vanavil software with ease. With this, ELCOT has succeeded in promoting open standard and open source environment in State Government offices.

These free-to-use fonts are meant for the use of the entire Tamil world community. It will benefit publishers, online magazines and others,” ELCOT Managing Director C. Umashankar told The Hindu on Thursday.

Vanavil view

When contacted, Vanavil Software CEO Thiyagarajan said: “It is unfair to state that the documents created by our software are totally proprietary. We had offered our software and services to many users free of cost. We started charging them only on expiry of 12 months. The users are not ready to pay even Rs.150 and have migrated to open-source system in the last few months. When that is the case, how can we sell the software for an exorbitant price? To offset the losses, we have started dealing in electronic items.”

Tough task

Having obtained the font from Lastech, one of the members of the Tamil consortium, ELCOT in July 2007 wrote to various State Government officials, explaining the advantage. It failed to elicit a positive response.

The Remington keyboard layout requires keyboard driver installation. It is also supplied as freeware for LINUX and Windows.

Says IT Secretary C Chandramouli: “So far we have not standardised any fonts nor have we recommended that any department buy a specific set of fonts. The fonts are purchased by the departments directly as they are free to do so. We have also not issued any G.O. in this regard.”