GUWAHATI, July 1 - City-based general surgeon Dr Satyakam Phukan, who has been fighting for the past about one decade for a separate slot for the Assamese script in the ISO: 10646 Standard to facilitate its use on the computer, has objected to the idea of inviting Michael Everson of the Unicode Consortium to Assam, and has requested the State Government to reconsider the idea.
In an email to the State�s Commissioner and Secretary for Cultural Affairs, Dr Phukan alleged that Everson was standing in the way of the Assamese script securing a separate slot in the ISO: 10646 Standard from the very beginning. He is one of the main persons, along with some Government of India officials, who are responsible for deletion of the Assamese script from the ISO: 10646 Standard, asserted Dr Phukan, adding that it was Everson who drafted the Unicode Standard, which was later synchronised with the ISO: 10646 Standard.
In his email, Dr Phukan also said he had raised the issue of the Assamese script in the Unicode Forum in July, 2012. Everson responded to that proposal with very bad, unparliamentary comments on the Assamese script and also about the Assamese people, said Dr Phukan, attaching a PDF file of the communication with the email.
He narrated how following this, he secured help from a group of Hungarian computer experts, who were also upset with the highhandedness of Everson, to lodge a complaint with the ISO on June 14, 2014 and the ISO official reprimands faced by Everson. Dr Phukan enclosed a copy of the ISO email he received in this connection.
Even now, the suggestion for renaming of the Bengali code chart has been drafted as an ad-hoc proposal by Everson himself. But Everson does not, on any ground, agree to the proposal for a separate slot/range for the Assamese script. Moreover, he is not willing to encode the �Kshya� alphabet of the Assamese script, said Dr Phukan.
Moreover, he said the issue of transliteration of the Assamese script has not been emphasised by the government proposal. The BIS got into the scene because of the issue of errors in the ISO: 15919 Standard, which is the Transliteration Standard for Indic Scripts.
Dr Phukan maintained that on July 21, 2012, he had filed a representation via email with the ISO, pointing out the errors in Assamese transliteration in ISO: 15919 Standard. On October 2, 2012, ISO wrote back to him, they accepted by representation and referred the matter to BIS, who represents India in the ISO. ISO Technical Committee 46 (ISO/TC46) looks after the ISO: 15919 Standard.
The Management and Systems Division 5 (MSD 5) is the mirror committee of the ISO/TC46 in India. The MSD was then headed by a Bengali man named NK Pal, who asked Dr Phukan to submit a proposal for rectification of the Assamese transliteration errors in ISO: 15919 Standard. On November 24, 2012, Dr Phukan submitted a detailed proposal and the proposal was accepted at the 14th meeting of the Documentation and Information Sectional Committee, MSD 5 (the National Mirror Committee to ISO/TC46) held on December 14, 2012 at BIS New Delhi.
But to get a script into ISO: 15919, the script needs to be encoded in ISO: 10646 Standard, so the committee took steps for encoding the Assamese script in ISO: 10646 Standard. From then onwards the issue has progressed to the current status, said the surgeon, requesting the government to attach due importance to the issue of Assamese transliteration.