Monday, May 1, 2017

Language disconnects need bridging:

From: jitendra <jituviju@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Mar 17, 2009 at 9:33 PM
Subject: Re: can you convene this meeting on 19march 4pm in your office, as suggested?
To: Vinay Dharmadhikari <vinay2000@gmail.com>
Cc: Leena Mehendale <leena.mehendale@gmail.com>, "Dr. Pushpak Bhattacharyya" <pushpakbh@gmail.com>, swarnalata@mit.gov.intdil@mit.gov.in, Ashok Saraf <saraf.ashok@gmail.com>, Anupam Saraph <anupamsaraph@gmail.com>


Dear Vinay,
I feel there is a need for a more organised meeting.
A discussion on emails should precede the meeting.

The biggest opportunity has been opened by the fact that NONE other than the Language department of the Government has taken the initiative. Credit goes to the Champion of the cause, Madam Leena Mehendale.
I wish to put forward my personal views , admittedly biased , for whatever they are worth. They are not very organised but hope to begin somewhere to evole into a coherent  perspective
Objective: Building a perspective and then draw an action plan for boosting Marathi on Computer/Internet
Who should attend: I  feel that attendees should include people active in language technology and/or decision makers in governments concerned with language technology.Users and cheer leaders may express their strong views on the email . And those who are not active on the email may take a back seat for the moment.
State Govt must take initiative:The state government is the right seat for such a meeting . Central Government has been urging the state governments to take active interest.

Some disconnects need bridging:
  1. Language Vs Technology: There is often a disconnect between language people ( those who are masters of linguistic delicacies and have an emotional bond for the language) and those who deal with IT/software (content developers who use IT tools, software application developers who need to incorporate indic languages, eGovernance application agencies who have a mandate to reach out to non-english masses). An intersection set of the two is what can actually do the job. The recent meeting (30th January) was a very welcome bridge of this sort.
  2. State Vs central: There is another disconnect: state governments and central government agencies.
    1. While Central Government has huge funds, it is not clear what their policy is.
    2. In the name of standardisation for egovernance, I have seen some ploicy initiatives , but do not know how much will land on the ground.
    3. the initiative from state governments is poor. It gets lost in the din of IT equipment purchase or big-ticket egovernance projects. 
    4. The situation in different states differs. It will be an adventure to pass cursory remarks. But , hazarding a thumbnail sketch, even if it is to provoke some violent reaction, is only to draw attention to what needs to be done for Marathi. There is no doubt that southern states (TamilNadu, Kerala and to some extent Karnatak and AP) have , as state governments taken major initiatives and taken decisions,actions and have , as a result achieved a lot of IT enablement of the language. Northern states , covered by Hindi have been blessed by major projects of the Central Government as also have been the focus of commercial organisations. As a result , some of the languages have gathered the critical mass and developments are happening. So a critical mass has to be gathered to shore up Marathi on Computer.
    5. But Marathi, Guarati, Oriya, (Bengali ?) etc have been languishing without the critical mass. 
    6. A meeting of officials across the state and central governments may create an alternative mechanism for giving momentum to the marathi technology development
  3. Can C-DAC be involved in perspective building:  It is not possible to blame C-DAC alone for failures in bringing all languages on computer. This is so  particularly in the absence of direction of the state government. But I hope i am wrong in my assessment of C-DAC. Due to close familiarity I may be missing the wood for the trees. Moreover , ironically,my  views about the role of the organisation are directly inverse of my sincere  respect for the individuals therein. Yet I feel C-DAC has failed in delivering over the last decade while  it had done so in the previous decade. The ISCII, inscript and fonts and basic infrastructure along with ISM and LEAP etc were pioneering service to the people of India. But this success and consequent complacency and monopoly was a cause of its failure. Then came the era of commercialisation. Then service to people was secondary. Hence the resistance to standardisation . Look at the CDs produced for all languages. Even today , the fonts and software distributed by C-DAC have no clear (public) license.Thus having acquired a role of vendor in the market, if we desire to work on a non-commercial pro-people perspective, it may be logical that C-DAC be kept at an arm's length from perspective building. 
  4. Targets: Use of Marathi on computers must perade into education(90% 0f students learn or are comfortable in marathi/indian languages in the state), governance ( government function and interface of egovernance), court work , content generation of all types.  
  5. Which technologies: Language Technology Group of e_governance standards has ably put together a comprehensive list of aspects of language technologes .We may be able to take that classification and place concerns of marathi within that . It is possible to bring all individual experiences and painpoints to the table but my feeling is all such concerns can be best handled in a structured manner.(see attached minutes of the working gropu meeting). I have no intention to suggest accepting any recommendations in the minutes attached. Only suggestion is to take the help  of classification implicit.
Hope these suggestions are seen only as positive.
Please reject any thing you feel is negative. I have no intention on arguing to defend my views.
Let us concentrate on the positive.
Hope there is a force of the community , supported by the government to salvage indian languages and hope marathi can lead the way hereafter

jitendra

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