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EKAVI-TEJASVI-Venkatsubbaiah-KAMBAR-Dr.Halemane on KSD and NUDI Fonts
EKAVI and Writers, presses for KSD and NUDI Fonts to be in Open Source
EKAVI – POOCHANTHE – Venkatsubbaiah – KAMBAR – Dr. Lingadevaru Halemane –
EKAVI July 16th 2004 meeting on Kannada Software Development and Press Conference at Bangalore PRESS CLUB on July 16th 2004.
Minutes of the meeting on Kannada Software
A meeting was convened on 16-07-04 at Vijayanagara Club, Bangalore, to discuss some of the issues related to Kannada Software. Following members had attended the meeting.
1. Sri. Purnachandra Tejaswi – Famous writer, Mudigere
2. Dr Chandrshekhara Kambara -MLC and famous writer, Bangalore
3. Prof. G. Venkatasubbayya – Lexicographer and famous writer, Bangalore
4. Sri R. S. Rajaram, Proprietor, Navakarnataka Publications, Bangalore
5. Sri S. K. Anand, MD, Cyberscape, Bangalore
6. Dr. Pavanaja – CEO, Vishwa Kannada Softech, Bangalore
7. Sri. Gyanesh – Software Engineer, Bangalroe
8. Sri. Satyanarayana – Software Engineer, Bangalore
9. Sri K Krishna Kumar, Software Engineer, Bangalore
10. Dr. Lingadevaru Halemane – CIIL, Mysore, Convener of the meeting
11. Sri K.T. Satheesh Gowda – Secretary, E-KAvi and Software Engineer, Bangalore
12. Sri Somashekhar – Software Engineer, Bangalore
In addition to the above participants, we had invited the following persons.
1. Prof. B.N. Sreeram – Publisher, Mysore
2. Sri. Srinatha Shastry – Chief Secretary, Kannada Ganaka Parishat, Bangalore
3. Sri. G.N. Narasimha Murthy, Secretary, Kannada Ganaka Parishat, Bangalore
4. Dr. Panditharadhya – Kannada Ganaka Parishat, Mysore
5. Dr. B. Mallikarjun – CIIL, Mysore
6. Shivakumar – Editor, Aparanji
7. Dr. Sharada – CIIL, Mysore
However, they did not attend the meeting.
Dr. Lingadevaru started by welcoming everyone for the meeting and explained the background for conducting the meeting. He circulated the minutes of the meeting held at Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, on May 25, 2004. He explained the necessity to call this meeting of technical experts and linguists to take the advice on the issues concerned about Kannada Software Development.
Dr Lingadevaru thanked Sri Poornachandra Tejasvi, Dr Chandrashekhara Kambara, Prof G Venkatasubbayya, Sri R S Rajaram, ministers Sri Siddaramayya & Sri M P Prakash and all others for showing keen interest and extending support. He also thanked Sri V M Kumaraswamy, founder of E-KAVI organization and its Bangalore chapter trustees Satheesh Gowda, Somashekhar and his team for taking all the troubles. He felt that this entire culmination is due to the extra efforts of E-KAVI.
Dr Lingadevaru started the discussions. There should be free and level playing field for Kannada software developments. We should use and encourage the software developed by the developers. Writers and artists have passion for the language but have limitations in understanding the technologies. But they can not be silent spectators when Kannada language is becoming extinct due to the onslaught of technological enhancements. Everyone felt on the May 25th meeting that things are not alright in Kannada Software Development. Members felt that the Govt should be pressurized to take steps to create enough opportunities for Kannada software developments and encourage such developments. At the same time no body should feel that this is a fight against Kannada Ganaka Parishat.
Sri K P Poornchandr Tejasvi took up the issue of lack of availability of good fonts for printing and publishing. Govt feels that it is the biggest customer. Even though it is correct, it is also important to have good fonts and related technologies for commercial printing. It is not enough if the software development is done targeting only the Govt requirements. All Kannadigas should get the benefit of technology. The problems of adapting technology for Kannada should end. If we don’t solve these problems Kannada will become extinct very soon. The monopoly of any one organization or Govt is hindering the growth of Kannada software development. Kannada software development should strive in an area of healthy competition. We can’t expect anything good from Kannada Ganaka Parisht which consists of technically unqualified people. Govt should withdraw the notification making Kannada Ganaka Parishat as the certifying body for Kannada software. Govt should also withdraw the notification making it mandatory for Govt departments to use only Nudi software. These steps are a must for encouraging all software developers.
He appreciated all those developers who foresaw the requirements for Kannada at the early stages and developed the software as per the need. Rajaram felt that there should be free and open market for Kannada software development and selling. Any monopoly is not good for the development. He also remembered the scientific research and development done by Dr Reddy, Prajavani newspaper for keyboard layout for Kannada and the font design by Kamalesh under the guidance of Prof G Venkatasubbayya.
Whatever be the internal problems of Kannada Ganaka Parishat, we should appreciate the passion for Kannada of their office bearers, felt Rajaram. He felt that we should invite the office bearers of Kannada Ganaka Parishat for the meeting. It was brought to the notice that the invitation has gone to the office bearers of Kannada Ganaka Parishat, but no one has turned up. Tejasvi appreciated the good work done by Kannada Ganaka Parishat in digitizing the pampabharatha. But he added that such works can be done by anyone and this kind of jobs should not be the priority of Kannada Ganaka Parishat. They should not forget their primary aim of developing basic tools and technologies needed for the Kannada software development. He opined that Kannada Ganaka Parishat is incompetent bear the responsibility and taking forward the Kannada Software development.
At this time Lingadevaru drew the attention of the people towards a letter sent by Kannada Ganaka Parishat in reply to the minutes of the meeting of CIIL meet of May 25, 2004. He read out the letter written by the chief secretary of Kannada Ganaka Parishat. He mentioned that according to this letter the issues discussed at CIIL meet are not issues at all and they have been taken care already. S K Anand reacted saying that Kannada Parishat expects software developers to co-operate with them. But how can one co-operate with an organization which pirates the fonts developed by others and cheats the Govt, he felt. He added that the situation wherein Kannada Ganaka Parishat, which is the certifying agency for Kannada software, making its own software, is like a referee himself running the race and then declaring himself as the winner. Dr Lingadevaru opined that the points mentioned in the letter written by Kannada Ganaka Parishat are nothing but a ploy to divert the attention. He read out a portion of the letter wherein Kannada Ganaka Parishat has asked as to what is the wrong recommendation sent to Unicode. Dr Pavanaja reacted to this questioning the wisdom of Shrinatha Shasthry and Dr Panditharadhya who were present at CIIL meeting wherein he (Pavanaja) had explained in detail about this. Pavanaja also wondered why these two gentlemen did not clarify this during the CIIL meeting itself.
Computer field is changing at a rapid pace. Nudi has already become obsolete in the context of Unicode. Representing Kannada at national and international level is the need of the hour. Unicode is must for this. These were the opinion of Dr Pavanaja. Windows 98 does not support Kannada Unicode. But there could have been a facility in Nudi to save the typed text as Unicode. Then it is not possible to open and edit such a text in Windows 98. But there could have been a facility in Nudi to convert the Unicode text back into the old technology for editing on Windows 98. This is quite easy to accomplish and Pavanaja wondered why such a small facility has not been included in Nudi software. There is no solution for the problems faced while using Nudi. If the source code of Nudi is put in the public domain interested people can work to improve it, opined Pavanaja. Gyanesh questioned what the benefits of making Nudi opensource are. He also asked about the standardization vis-a-vis making Nudi opnesource. Pavanaja replied that opensource concept works under the purview standardization. At present Nudi has only some standardization but there are not many useful features. There are so many bugs in Nudi. This is the opinion of majority of the application software developers who are using Nudi Software Development toolkit. There are lots of doubts about the professionalism in making and maintaining the Nudi software. For once it is doubtful about Govt possessing the source code of Nudi. Then there is doubt about proper documentation of Nudi. What happens to Nudi if the programmer of Nudi, K M Harsha, goes to some foreign country? Nobody has thought in these lines. If the sourcecode of Nudi is avilable in public domain, the bugs present in it can be fixed by passionate experts. Moreover, Nudi is funded by Govt, hence every citizen has a right on its source code. In case of Linux enthusiasts, some parts of the code of Nudi which deals with Windows API might not be useful, but all other code which deals with core concepts like keyboard handling, sorting, etc. will be definitely useful. In fact Kannada Linux enthusiasts are desperately looking for the source code of Nudi for implementing Kannada sorting.
Gyanesh suggested that there should be a consortium similar to the Unicode consortium consisting of technologists, writers, consumers of software and Govt representatives which will address the issues concerned with Kannada software development. That consortium should evolve and publish all standards pertaining to Kannada software development. All works should be carried out as per these standards. Pavanaja replied that there was such a committee. But it looked into the standardization of glyphset for monolingual truetype font only. Afterwards there were no activities towards any standardization at Govt level. That committee did not standardize glyphset for bi-lingual font. But Kannada Ganaka Parishat included bi-lingual fonts in Nudi versions 3 & 4. A myth has been created that whatever made by Kannada Ganaka Parishat is the standard. But Ganaka Parishat has failed in this endeavor. Hence there should be a permanent committee at the Govt level to look into standardization, opined Pavanaja.
Rajaram continued the discussions about fonts from where he had left it earlier. There were very good foundry types prior to the advent of DTP. In computers everyone gave importance to text fonts and no body bothered about headline fonts. We need good headline fonts for Kannada, opined Rajaram. Pavanaja replied to this highlighting the technical advancements that have been made in the concept of fonts by the availability of opentype fonts. In opentype fonts, there is no limitation of number of glyphs as in the case of truetype fonts. We can have thousands of glyphs to address every specific need. The need of the hour is to make 10-12 very high quality opentype fonts for Kannada. This needs investments in the form of resource, time and money. There is no mechanism to protect the fonts from not being copied by some means. Creating and selling opentype fonts is not a commercially viable business. Hence the stake holders like Govt, printers and publishers, newspapers, etc have to mobilize the necessary resources and fund the devlopment of opentype fonts for Kannada, opined Pavanaja. Rajarama seconded this suggestion. Tejasvi added that Govt must support and fund this activity. If they can spend crores of Rupees for Sahithya Sammelanas why can’t they fund these really useful and absolutely necessary activities, he wondered.
Dr Chandrashekhara Kambara told to the members that he has taken initiative at Govt level and has already done preliminary rounds of talks. He mentioned that he has brought to the notice of Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and Shri M P Prakash. He promised to help in all respects for step by step implementation of the resolutions of this meeting. Let us inform everyone through media. Then let us submit a memorandum to the Govt. I will bring this issue in the forthcoming session of the assembly. Let us also invite all Kannada associations to join hand. Govt has opened a separate department for E-Governance. All computerization work at the Govt level must include Kannada and it should follow standards, opined Dr Kambara.
A Sthyanarayana took up the issue of computerization of Govt departments. He explained the steps taken by Kannada Development Authority in this regard. Due to the interest of Chandrashekhara Patil, then President of Kannada Development Authority, notification was issued for the standardized keyboard layout. Prof Baragooru Ramachandrappa made the Computer Kannada action plan. This action plan was supposed to be implemented through Dept of Information Technology. They gave the responsibility to Kannada Ganaka Parishat. It is a big question as to what happened to this action plan. Nudi was made during the period of Prof Bargooru. There was no proper training to the Govt staff in using it. The aim of implementing Kannada in all administrative work is getting backstabbed in the name of computerization. He gave the example of computerization of treasury. Prior to computerization all the works of treasury department were being carried out in Kannada. Now the things have changed after computerization. Now everything is in English due to computerization. Kannada Devlopment Authority can only issue guidelines and memos. But the implementation of these guidelines depends on the respective departments. There is no training at all for the Govt staff on using Kannada on computers. This training is very important. The present computer training policy of Govt has no place for Kannada. Govt has awarded the training contract to big names. It is important that the medium of instruction of these training and the usage of computer must be Kannada. Likewise the medium of instructions and the examples used in the “mahiti sindhu” project of the Govt should be in Kannada.
Members took serious view of the fact that as per some report of experts, Kannada is in the forefront of dying languages of South India. We are in the critical juncture of saving and giving long life to Kannada language. If we don’t act now Kannada will remain as a spoken language in villages. In the context of these, the following resolutions were adopted unanimously.
1. There should be a permanent committee to look into various aspects of standardization and implementation of Kannada on computers. This committee should also take care of various aspects of the technical problems faced, their solutions, the software to be developed, their priorities, etc. This committee should be constituted by the Govt immediately. This committee should consist of computer experts with good knowledge of Kannada, Kannada experts with knowledge of computers, printers and publishers, newspaper owners/journalists, Kannada writers and Kannada software experts.
2. All Kannada software developers should be encouraged. Kannada software development should happen in a healthy competitive environment. Kannada Ganaka Parishat also should compete with other commercial vendors. Since Kannada Ganaka Parishat is also into Kannada software development, the Govt notification appointing Ganaka Parishat as the certifying agency for Kannada software should be withdrawn.
3. The source code of Nudi software which is developed by Govt funding should be kept in public domain by making Nudi as opensource software.
4. Pressure should be applied to Govt to implement these resolutions.
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