Assam has been persuading the US-based Unicode Consortium to give it a separate slot for its script and remove the computational intricacies in using it in the digital age. However all the efforts bore no fruit as the Indian Government has done nothing to ensure Assamese language is given a separate slot. However one man won’t take it easy until the aforementioned happens. Meet Guwahati based surgeon Dr Satyakam Phukan.
Phukan’s struggle to give Assamese language its due recognition
Dr Phukan has been challenging the way the Unicode Consortium has obliterated the Assamese script and projected it as nothing but a corrupt version of the Bengali script. This has made Assamese language users on the web face a lot of difficulties as Assamese language could not be written in its correct form on the web.
The Guwahati based surgeon has approached the Central Public Information Officer with an online petition seeking a copy of the ISCII-88 and ISCII-91 scripts from the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India. The aforementioned scripts represent the Indian languages in the Unicode Consortium. It is to be noted that Unicode Consortium governs the scripts of languages on the web.
He also approached the Department of Information and Technology to provide information whether the company had obtained any permission from the State Government regarding the same. Dr Phukan alleges that till now he had been denied the information he sought.
What is the issue about?
While on the web, try writing in Assamese. Chances are high that you will see the Assamese characters lined up along with Bengali. This is due to the fact that the Assamese alphabets are not separately encoded by the Unicode. Following their policy of unification in which similar characters are clubbed together as one language, the Assamese script was merged into Bengali in the Unicode Standard by the consortium. This maybe due to the fact that the uniqueness of the Assamese script is perhaps unknown to American experts of the consortium.
Will the Assamese language get its due representation in the Consortium? Only time will tell.