Kannada, Kannadiga, Kannadigaru, Karnataka,

Kannadigarella ondaagi Kannadavannu ulisona, kalisona and belesona

Kannada connects-In 2002 Dr. U. B. Pavanaja at the helm of the KGP or Kannada Ganaka Parishad (Kannada Computer Association), a voluntary organisation to promote the standardisation and use of Kannada on computers.

  Kannada                    connects                   –

In 2002 , Dr. U. B. Pavanaja at the helm of the KGP or

Kannada Ganaka Parishad (Kannada Computer Association), a voluntary organisation

to promote the standardisation and use of Kannada on computers?

Kannada connects

Frederick Noronha


FOR Dr U.B. Pavanaja, a 1993 scooter accident turned out to be the proverbial blessing in disguise. For nine months, as he lay in bed, the scientist learnt Visual Basic. He then went on to write the first versions of what is now his “Kannada Kali” software programme. This is a game that helps a child or new learner of the Kannada language to shape his alphabet correctly.

“I did it lying in bed with a computer by my side,” he recalls with a smile. Over the years, the one-time scientist at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre finds his output increasingly relevant to the common man.

He’s right now at the helm of the KGP or Kannada Ganaka Parishad (Kannada Computer Association), a voluntary organisation to promote the standardisation and use of Kannada on computers.

So far, the standardisation has already been done, both on a uniform keyboard for Kannada, and also for the glyphs and glyph-codes. (The latter refer to the component parts that, when joined together in varying combinations, make up each alphabet.) There’s a big difference between English and Indian languages over the display and storage of information in computers. In the case of English, there is a one-to-one correspondence between the display codes and the storage codes. But in the case of an Indian language, say Kannada, the letters are made up of combinations of consonants and vowels, using, for instance, a consonant-plus-consonant-plus-consonant-plus-vowel combination.

These characters have a unique storage code in ISCII, or the Indian Standards Code for Information Interchange. The display of these characters is accomplished by joining pieces of characters known as `glyphs’. Codes for the storage characters and the display pieces (glyphs) are different.

In addition, the number of characters which make the character (used for storage) and the number of display pieces used for the display of the letter don’t have a one-to-one correspondence. For instance, Kannada uses some 142 pieces to obtain all the possible combinations that can be obtained from the 49 Kannada letters of the alphabet.

Indian groups working on language-solutions such as C-DAC and Mithi have done similar work. But in earlier cases, everyone followed their own glyph sets. This meant the data lacked `portability’. Text composed on one computer could not be carried over, or understood by another computer that did not share the same software. “We feel the best solution is to have the storage in ISCII. Other solutions have attempted to tie up the user in their own software solutions,” says Dr Pavanaja.

He says the Indian Government’s stand is that ISCII should have standardised glyph sets. “In our region, Karnataka has standardised glyph sets already. We have benchmark software too… to ensure that the software will work with any standard computer.” He adds, “standardisation is something that has to be imposed (for the sake of moving ahead together).” At another level, the Kannada language has also pushed for what it calls the Kannada Standard Code for Language Processing. This is used for sorting, as per the Kannada order of the alphabet. Sorting and indexing in the regional language has opened up new possibilities. Also, the Parishad has been working towards a standardised Unicode for Kannada. Dr Pavanaja underlines the importance of uniformity for the Unicode character table and collation code for this regional language.

Incidentally, India’s voting member at the Unicode Consortium is the Indian Government’s Ministry of Information Technology (MIT). But lack of uniform interests among the various Indian languages used for computing means that sometimes not much can be done on this front.

In September 2000, Dr Pavanaja took part in a Unicode conference in California. “We explained the issues (involved in Kannada), and that was appreciated a lot. The MIT is waiting for all languages to come up with a decision. Only Kannada has done this much groundwork on Unicode.” The Parishad has also developed a free Kannada script software. Using this, developers can write Kannada database applications. It could, therefore, have applications linked to phone directories, ration cards, banking, libraries and road transport operations.

“Everyone needs good database applications. In Indian language computing, 90 per cent of the uses are linked to DTP unfortunately. But in English, computers are overwhelmingly used for database applications,” he says, stressing that the lack of applications causes problems.

One of this team’s solutions is `Kalitha,’ a Kannada keyboard driver and font. The group has modified a Kannada keyboard-layout which uses the 26-letter English-language key for Kannada’s 49. How does it work? The `shift’ (or `caps’) key comes to the rescue.

“English has 26 letters of the alphabet multiplied by two (with each using the caps key). This makes a total of 52. In Kannada, we need only a total of 49. It works well with the `shift’ and `unshift’ key,” he says. The layout has been accepted and notified by the Karnataka Government.

To keep things simple for the typist and computer-operator, this keyboard makes things a “little more difficult” for the programmer. But once that is taken care of, things become simple in actually using this solution, he says.

Dr Pavanaja has also created a Kannada version of LOGO. “LOGO stands for logic-oriented, graphic-oriented’ programming. It is a language for children. It uses very simple commands, like `forward’, `backward’, and so on. School children (roughly 10 to 13 years of age) can use it effectively. I thought of Kannada-medium schools, and wanted something for them,” he says.

Work done by this group could make Kannada the first Indian language to get on to a palm-top computing device, he believes.

One of the KGP’s dreams is to have Kannada working with the open source Linux operating system.

The author is a freelance journalist (fred@bytesforall.org)



November 24, 2007 - Posted by | Pavanaja on NUDI, Baraha and KGP


  1. CIbusNN3mCxow

    Comment by Tanner | January 7, 2009 | Reply

  2. Nanu thumba sanna adakke henu madabeku heli

    Comment by shruthi | September 21, 2012 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: