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ISO agrees to rename Bengali script as Bengali/Assamese script

By Ajit Patowary

GUWAHATI, June 23 - The London sitting of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Working Group-II discussed the possibilities of providing an independent slot for the Assamese script in the US-based Unicode Consortium and agreed to rename the Unicodes attached to the Assamese script from its present Bengali script to Bangla/Assamese script.

The meeting, held with a five-day programme between June 18 and June 22, also decided to review this decision provided the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) sends a fresh recommendation for providing a separate slot for Assamese script in the Unicode.

It needs mention here that script of each language has been provided with an independent chart of Unicodes for its characters by the Unicode Standard Consortium. This allows the data to be transported through many digital platforms and devices. But so far, Assamese script does not have its own identity in the digital world.

Talking to this newspaper over phone from London, Asam Sahitya Sabha president Dr Paramananda Rajbongshi said the issue was raised before the Working Group-II, which is a part of the joint technical committee of the ISO. The Indian representatives, which raised the issue before the Working Group-II, included Bureau of Indian Standard official Mani Kandan, Dr Rajbongshi, Asam Sahitya Sabha�s former president Dr Dhruvajyoti Bora, Prof Sikhar Sarma of Information Technology Department, Gauhati University, and AMTRON Managing Director MK Yadav.

Prof Sikhar Sarma is also an expert member of the ISO Working Group-II.

Initially, the other members of the ISO Working Group-II were of the opinion that the slot allotted to the Assamese script is in no way connected with the Assamese culture. It is only connected with the characters of the Assamese script and the difference of the Assamese script is very minimal, they opined.

At this juncture, the representatives from Assam sent a note to Michael Everson, the Unicode representative in the Working Group-II, describing the unique features of the Assamese script and invited him to Assam for the next special session of Asam Sahitya Sabha scheduled for February next year.

The other members of the ISO Working Group were also approached similarly and on June 21, Everson discussed the matter with the other members of the Working Group, following which the renaming of the existing slot as Bangla/Assamese was agreed upon by the Working Group unanimously.

Rajbongshi further informed that the ISO Working Group members from the other countries advised the Indian representatives to take up the issue of providing an independent slot for Assamese script in the Unicode with the BIS, so that a fresh recommendation is sent by the Bureau to the ISO for providing Assamese script such a slot. The Unicode Standard Consortium will accept that recommendation, said these Working Group members. �Our main efforts will be on persuading the BIS to send such a recommendation expeditiously to the ISO. The ball is now in the court of the BIS,� Rajbongshi said.

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