India’s Centre for Development of Advance Computing (C-DAC) plans to release software tools for six Indic languages – Bangla, Konkani, Kashmiri, Manipuri, Santhali and Sindhi. With this release, C-DAC will have launched tools for 22 Indian languages. In the past, they have released tools and fonts for Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Assamese, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Urdu, Gujarati, Sanskrit, Bodo, Dogri, Maithali and Nepali.
Details of the tools have not been mentioned, though, earlier in July, C-DACs Graphics and Intelligence based Script Technology (GIST) Group had released the ISM V6 software, which it claims is UNICODE compliant and offers support for Open Type fonts, supporting 19 Indian languages, with a spellchecker for Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam and Bengali. The product also features transliteration facility, and a transluscent floating keyboard to help typing in Hindi using an English language keyboard. Sounds tough to me.
While we’re not sure if the new fonts and tools announced yesterday are free to use, we did find it strange that the government has claimed that this will help bridge the digital divide, while on the other hand, made content creations tools developed using public funds by CDAC, paid. View their price list here. If people who are not familiar with the English alphabet dont have sufficient Indic language content to consume, why will they sign up for Internet access? Pricing Indic languages products doesn’t really help Indic language content creation – on the Internet, everyone is a content creator, and CDAC should encourage citizens to create content in Indic languages. Private organizations like Quillpad and Google are doing a lot more with their free transliteration tools to help increase the quantity of Indic language content available in this country.
Besides this, it is sad that an organization that CDAC itself has content on its website that is not browser independent, and renders only in Internet Explorer, and not Firefox (screenshot) or Chrome (screenshot).
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