GUWAHATI, Nov 22 - The six-member panel of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has accepted the arguments and suggestions of the Assam experts on treating Assamese script as an independent script for the purpose of its recognition in the international digital standards.
The BIS panel was formed recently with Dr L Ramamurthy of the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, as its chairman to discuss the issue of Assamese language and its representation in the national and international standards. It is a representative committee comprising a six-member panel to look into the issue. This panel also includes Manoj Jain of Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY), Mahesh Kulkarni of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Dr Dilip Kumar Kalita, Director, Anundoram Borooah Institute of Language, Art and Culture (ABILAC) and the secretaries to the Department of Information Technology in the States of Assam and West Bengal as members, besides Dr Ramamurthy. Dr Ashish Tewari of the BIS convened the meeting. Dr Mahendra Singh, chairman, Language and Information Technology Development Cell 20 of the BIS, also attended the meeting.
According to Dr Paramananda Rajbongshi, general secretary of the Asam Sahitya Sabha, the BIS penal members were very keen on removing the hurdles faced by the Assamese script in getting it recognised by the international digital standards.
The BIS panel members have asked the Assam team which placed the matter before it in its first meeting held at the BIS headquarters in New Delhi on November 17, to furnish them the relevant documents and information on the Assamese script and also to substantiate its claim to be recognised by the authorities concerned as a viable script for international standards.
According to Dr Rajbongshi, the panel, after a detail deliberation with the Assam team members who included Commissioner and Secretary, Cultural Affairs, Preetam Saikia, and head of the Gauhati University (GU) Information Technology Department, Professor Shikhar Sarma, besides Dr Rajbongshi, decided to propose a separate code chart for the Assamese script before the International Standard Organisation (ISO).
In the panel members� meeting with the Assam team, it was also decided that the Government of Assam would frame the detailed proposal, including the proposed code charts, before January next and this proposal would then be forwarded to the main BIS committee. Once the BIS recommends it, it will go to the ISO, the apex body of the countries in this regard, for its approval.
This will finally pave the way to adopt the similar code chart standards in UNICODE as UNICODE is synchronized with the ISO 10646 standards.
It needs mention here that concerns have been raised during the past several years by several quarters on the future of the Assamese script in digital media.
Following the development of identifying the two unique Assamese characters Raa and Waa as Bengali characters in the Unicode Bengali page, serious concerns were raised by different individuals, researchers, organisations like the Asam Sahitya Sabha, and the State Government on the nomenclature/representation of the Assamese writing system in the international digital standards, including the ISO and the Unicode Standards.
For the Assamese script, it was emphasised by all these quarters that there is need of a separate code set for all the characters and symbols of the broad Assamese script, arranging all the characters in proper collation order.
This matter was seriously discussed on several occasions. Even a day�s sitting of the last Kaliabor session of the Asam Sahitya Sabha was devoted to discuss this issue. Later, a meeting was held at the ABILAC headquarters on November 12, involving all the stakeholders, to arrive at a consensus opinion on the issue.