தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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CONTENTS
OF THIS SECTION
Last updated
25/09/07

[to read the Tamil text you may need to download & install a Tamil Unicode font from here - for detailed instructions please also see Tamil Fonts & Software]
Digital Media & a Growing Tamil Togetherness
"going where the mainstream media can't or won't go"
Tamil Fonts, Keyboards & Software
Tamil Internet Forum - கணனி உலகச் செய்திகள்
கனடாவிலிருந்து பிரபல கணனி வல்லுநர் ஜிஃப்ரி
Tamil Language Computing Initiatives Launch, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 2005
Google Search in Tamil - Video
Some of the best things in life cost nothing, even when it comes to software - David Flynn,19 February 2007
Tamilnet.com: Some Reflections on Popular Anthropology, Nationalism, and the Internet - Mark P Whitaker, 2004
(INFITT) - International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil 
Conferences...
Tamil Internet 2004 - Singapore
Tamil Internet 2003 - Chennai
Tamil Internet 2002 -San Francisco 
Tamil Internet 2001- Kuala Lumpur
Tamil Internet 2000 - Singapore
Tamil Internet 1999 - Chennai
Tamil Internet 1997 - Singapore

Vanni Institute of Technology, Tamil Eelam [see also Tamil Techies Master Blaster Worm - BBC Report, October 2003]

Tamil Eelam Institute of Information Technology

Tamil Information Technology Association "The Tamil Information Technology Association (TITA) is a non-profit IT service organization operating from Sri Lanka. In 1999, when the civil war was at its peak, the idea to establish such a service organization was conceived in the minds of a handful of recently passed out Tamil engineering graduates and undergraduates in Sri Lanka..."

Swiss Tamil Educational Project in Information Technology for Homeland
zha Kanini Project, Tamil Nadu
Village in Tamil Nadu attempts to replicate Business Process Outsourcing success, May 2005
Technology Development Centre for Indian Languages - Tamil "..Information Technology has emerged as an all pervasive technology to impact the lives of people across the globe. To ensure the complete reach of the benefits of the Information Revolution in India, people should be in a position to operate computers in all Indian languages. A step in this direction is the proposed Release of Tamil Fonts, software etc., by the C-DAC. This also points to a firm resolve of the Ministry of Communications and IT to take the fruits of IT development to all the languages of the country. I am sure, this will help in bridging the digital divide by empowering the people belonging to all strata of society and speaking different languages of the country.."
Tamil Digital Library Network
Yarl Tamil Unicode Google Search
Yarl Tamil (Tscii, Madurai, Forumhub, Bamini, Tab) Google Search

Thamizha - Tamil Open Source

Breaking New Ground in Tamil Software or Continued Dominance of English?, 2005
Suparno Technologies, Chennai  announce release of IndiSearch - a PC driven Indexing/Searching Technology targeting languages which have dissimilar orthographic and storage view of information. Except for few files all Classical and Contemporary Tamil Texts available at Project Madurai have been indexed. 
தமிழ் வளர்க்கும் அறிஞர்கள் -
அழகி.காம் விஷி (எ)விஸ்வநாதன்
- Nilarchal Interview
People, not technology, drive politics - Andy Ho, July 2005
Tamil Nadu gets dual-boot Win-Linux desktops, March 2006
Tamil Language Computing Initiatives Launch, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, April 2005
Information Technology at Government of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Portals & E-Zines
Web Based Tamil Letter Writing Service
Ramalingam Muttiah - Inventor of First Tamil Typwriter
Subhashini's Tamil Digital Village "...Digital Village is a concept that enable Tamil kids and parents to learn computer technology through internet. Here I have created digital models for kids. It is always interesting to work in team to obtain technical skills..."
Resource Centre for Indian Languages - Tamil
Digital Q - Fortnightly
Virtual Reality & the Tamil Nation - Dr.N.Kannan
Tamil Virtual University, Chennai

Tamil Virtual University Report by Patrick Harrigan

Quiet Information Revolution in Tamil Nadu - Colin Mclay, 2000
Nurturing Tamil togetherness through the Internet - Dravida Peravai
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister
M.Karunanithi on Inaugration of Tidel  Park for IT Industries in Chennai, July 2000
IT must be part of Tamil Nadu's Economic Growth says Harvard University Study
Singapore Tamil Internet Steering Committee
Tamil Internet Forum in Tamil Nadu

The Market Economy, Globalisation & Tamil Culture - Dr.Sathyabalan

Self Determination in the Information Age -  Scott Crawford & Kekula Bray-Crawford
Multi Lingual Internet Names Consortium
Tamil Information Technology Association
Coimbatore Information Technology 
Nudpam - Tamil Technology Magazine
TCwords
encouraging worldwide participation in coining Tamil computing words
Singapore Tamil Internet Steering Committee
Electronic Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT)
TIDEL Park
Tamil Nadu Industrial Guidance & Export Promotion Bureau
Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation
Tamil Nadu Corporation for Industrial and Infra Structure Development
Manufacturing Association of Information Technology
National Informatics Centre (NIC)

Tamilnation Library - Digital Revolution

Digital Library of India: A Testbed for Indian Language Research, 2006 - N. Balakrishnan, Supercomputer Education and Research Center Indian Institute of Science
Bangalore, Raj Reddy, Madhavi Ganapathiraju and Vamshi Ambati, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh USA . "This paper describes the goal of the Universal Digital Library Project (UDL) and presents the approach taken by – and the technological challenges associated with – the Million Books to the Web Project (MBP). The Digital Library of India (DLI) initiative, which is the Indian part of the UDL and MBP, is discussed. DLI fosters a large number of research activities in areas such as text summarization, information retrieval, machine translation and transliteration, optical character recognition, handwriting recognition, and natural language parsing and morphological analyses. This paper provides an overview of the activities of DLI in these areas and shows how DLI serves as a multilingual resource.
Digitisation of Scholarly Materials in India for Distance and Open Learners -  Anup Kumar Das, B.K. Sen and Chaitali Dutta, 19 November 2005

 

TAMIL DIGITAL RENAISSANCE
பனை ஓலையில் இருந்து, கணிப்பொறித் திரை வரை...
 நான்காவது தமிழ் உதயமாகிறது

Nadesan Satyendra
May 1998, revised March 2007

"..The print revolution brought Tamil from the ola leaves to paper, from the select few literati to the many. The digital revolution is bringing Tamil from paper to the computer and the internet. Swaminathatha Iyer and Thamotherampillai heralded the Tamil renaissance in the 19th century. Today, a Tamil digital renaissance is taking place - and is helping to bring Tamil people together not simply culturally but also in political and economic terms..." Nadesan Satyendra, May 1998


The agricultural revolution and the river valley civilisations led to the rise of the early cities of the Tamil people. The mercantile expansion of the maritime powers of Europe, led to the colonisation of the Tamil homeland both in South India and in Eelam (known as Ceylon to the British and as Sri Lanka to the Sinhalase). The colonisation was led by Great Britain, France, Portugal, and the Dutch. The industrial revolution fuelled that expansion, led to the breakdown of feudalism and the birth of nation states in Europe - and, at the same time stifled industrialisation and the organic growth of nations in the colonial empires.

It was with the departure of the colonial rulers, in the aftermath of the Second World War that the nations of the fourth world have begun to assert their identity. The Tamils are one such nation.

Today, the third wave - the digital revolution - is rendering State boundaries increasingly porous. It has enabled the building of net communities and is helping to bring a new sense of togetherness to Tamils living in many lands and across distant seas. 

The paper presented by Scott Crawford and Kekula Bray-Crawford at the Internet Society Conference in 1995, provides useful insights on Self Determination in the Information Age and so does Piet Bakker in New Nationalism: The Internet Crusade.

"The swiftly evolving information and communication technologies and networking infrastructures are playing an expanding role in supporting the self-determination of peoples and emergent nations...." Scott Crawford and Kekula Bray-Crawford on Self Determination in the Information Age, 1995

"Although it is sometimes argued that the nation state is becoming less important and we’re heading towards a global village, evidence is also pointing the other way. Nationalism is flourishing – almost every armed conflict in the modern world has nationalistic roots. One of the most visible aspects of the new nationalism is the spread of nationalistic online activities...."Piet Bakker in New Nationalism: The Internet Crusade, 2001

Alex Salmond, Scottish National Party Leader has rightly remarked -

"As our world has become more complex and inter-connected, the need for nations to be independent with a direct say in regional and global affairs has become more important - not less. In 1945, there were only 51 members of the new United Nations. In our new century, there are nearly 200 independent UN members - and more than 30 of these have emerged since the end of the Cold War. Thus in the modern world, the processes of independence and interdependence are mutually supportive and reinforcing. The political imperative to share the same state for reasons of building a large domestic market, or great power projection, is a fundamentally outdated 19th-and 20th-century concept."

Dr.N.Kannan has explored some aspects of the virtual reality of the Tamil world in a thoughtful essay in Tamil. For more than 70 million  Tamil people, Nicholas Negroponte's 'being digital' is already taking on a whole new meaning - and, it seems, may do so increasingly in the years to come.

The low transaction cost of setting up in cyberspace has fuelled an exponential growth in the world wide web. The digital revolution is a great leveller - but it is not only that:

"When the printing press was invented it didn’t merely level the playing field to make information more freely available to all levels of society, rather it revolutionised society by providing a new, cheap method of disseminating information to far more people than could be accommodated by the handwritten copying of manuscripts in monasteries. In the information age the internet provides the opportunity to pass on vast quantities of information at little incremental cost to every form of trader, investor and market counterpart. The old hegemony of existing institutional investors, exchanges and brokers is doomed to collapse under the ‘new reality’. Just as the clerics lost power after the printing press, the information revolution undermines the power of established financial institutions." (Patrick Young & Thomas Theys - Co-authors of the Capital Market Revolution )

The digital revolution is undermining the power of not only established 'financial' institutions, but other institutions as well. It has begun to give democracy a new dimension and the politically awakening fourth world has found a new instrument for self expression.

At the sametime, John Harrington's essay titled 'The Media, Framing, and the Internet: Dominant Ideologies Persist '  introduces a necessary note of caution.

"...in earlier times violence and the threat of physical force was used to maintain order. But today control is pursued through very different avenues; most effectively.... through cultural control, or ‘controlling the common sense’.... the dominated are encouraged to see the world as the powerful do, using the various media in this manner is obviously an excellent and efficient means of control..."

Again, as Dr.Sathyabalan points out, there is a need to recognise the impact of the market economy and globalisation on the future of  Tamil language and Tamil culture.

"We cannot protect Tamil unless we understand the economic logic of the so-called ‘development’ that the West seeks to sell to us. That economic logic begins from the concept and ideology of the market. Economics is linked to exchange (irrespective of what is exchanged)... The crux of the matter is that exchange is always dominated by the powerful and therefore it is more favourable to them since they can determine the terms and conditions of that exchange/trade. This is one of the key reasons for the poor and poor nations becoming vulnerable, losing their assets and becoming indebted.... While we may take many initiatives towards promoting Tamil, we should also oppose ... the attempt to globalise cultures and commoditise our lives. This is crucial to protect Tamil in the years to come."

On the one hand,  the digital revolution is rendering State boundaries increasingly porous to money, information and goods. On the other hand, the existing world order, criminalises the movement of persons to better their livelihood - and labels those who do so as 'economic refugees'. 

The remarks of Jeremy Seabrook, who has devoted his life to writing about poverty and resistance in both North and South, are not without a particular urgency:

"Globalisation permits money and goods to move around the world unimpeded, yet criminalises the other indispensable element of production, labour, when it seeks to move to where it can command a decent livelihood. And in the process, the treasures of the earth are mined, ravaged and consumed at an accelerating rate. Globalisation is imperialism by another name; the world market is an extension of the global imperial adventure of the nineteenth century; and the majority of the working class are now located not in the tenements of Berlin and Glasgow, the immigrant apartment blocks of Chicago and New York, but in the terrible slums of Asia, the favelas of Latin America, the townships of Africa...

The story of labour holds sober lessons. It shows that it is not only as workers that people need emancipation from the totalising dogmas of neo-liberalism, but as consumers too, as complete human beings. There is a new urgency to the need to formulate a richer form of liberation than that envisaged by the revolutionaries and pioneers of labour... (Jeremy Seabrook in the New Internationalist, January/February 1999)

To the Tamil nation, of more than 70 million people, struggling to be recognised, the digitising of information whilst enabling easier means of communication across state boundaries will also, hopefully, help them, as a people, to formulate 'a richer form of liberation than that envisaged by the revolutionaries and pioneers of labour'.  The Digital Media continues to serve as a 'force multiplier' in the Tamil Eelam freedom struggle.

Digitisation opens up new economic opportunities and economic markets of value to the Tamil people. Tamil entrepreneurs are already tapping into this market to profit by serving a felt need. Their efforts will  cement the growing togetherness of the Tamil people to the extent that they are also mindful of the need to serve.

"I believe that leadership is not a position. It’s a combination of something you are (your character) and something you do (your skills and competence). In addition, I believe the best model for leadership is that of a servant leader, who leads by serving the needs of people...." (Ken Melrose Chairman and CEO of The Toro Company, a Fortune 500 Company)

Tamil magazines, internet newsgroups, mailing lists  and websites continue to multiply month by month. The classics of Tamil language and literature are being digitised and made available to hundreds of thousands who had not read them before. A fresh impetus has been given to new writers and poets, musicians and dancers.

The Wellcome Library in London has mounted records in its online catalogue  for around 2800 Tamil books on medicine and allied topics that it  purchased on microfilm from the Roja Muthiah Research Library in Chennai. The collection is publicly available for research, and the Library would like to encourage the use of this collection. The Library is  privately-owned and  is open, free of charge to all researchers into medical history and allied topics.

The decision of the Indian government (in New Delhi) to privatise ISPs has encouraged this growth. India with a large reservoir of science graduates, software programmers, and system analysts may be in a position to take advantage of the digital revolution, though it had missed out on the industrial revolution. The decision to privatise was taken in November 1997 and was implemented an year later in November 1998. In 1999, India had only 500,000 Internet users but toady there are several millions.

Amongst the languages of India, Tamil has already developed a considerable presence in the Internet. Much research has gone into the development of Tamil fonts and software and the move towards standardisation of font encoding will increase interoperability. Part of this effort has come from those involved in the struggle for Tamil Eelam, and the need to secure international recognition of the justice of that struggle. The rest has come from dedicated individuals living in many lands.

Tamil Nadu's Information Technology policy statement in November 1997 set guidelines for the state's role in the digital revolution and promises to provide better connectivity and facilitate better infrastructure. The declared initiatives "included according 'industry status' to software units; putting on par government and private IT ventures; the setting up of Tanitec, the IT institute; mooting a venture capital corpus for IT industries and the 50 per cent 'floor space index' relaxation for IT projects."

The state's proposal for setting up a T-Net information backbone connecting all district headquarters in the state, using the cable TV network was an important breakthrough. This was followed in February 1999 by  Tamilnet'99  - an international Tamil conference on the use of Tamil in Information Technology and the announcement of the move to establish a Tamil Internet Research Centre.

"The 75 million-strong Tamil speaking population worldwide has received a boost in cyberspace, thanks to a $1.25 million local language initiative launched by the Tamil Nadu government to promote online content.... Several semi-commercial efforts have thus far been launched to globally coordinate Web publishing and online business among the Tamil population, such as ChennaiOnline, International Tamils Motivational Movement, TamilNet and TamilNation...A global Tamil village is in the making," said Ramasamy Chidambaram Pillay, Minister for Education and Science, Mauritius..." Tamil Nadu Implements Tamil Language Net Plan, 1999

In June 1999, the Tamil Nadu government made order standardising Tamil font encoding standard and unveiled a new standardised Tamil keyboard. The Electronic Corporation of Tamil Nadu website   illustrates the growing role that the internet has begun to play in Tamil Nadu and the remarks of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.Karunanithi at the  Inaugration of the Tidel  Park for IT Industries in Chennai, July 2000 underlined the importance of that growth:

"Out of the 23,000 engineers who graduate every year from Tamilnadu, 13,000 are from information technology-related disciplines, coming from institutions of excellence such as Indian Institute. of Technology, Chennai; Anna University; PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, etc. Software exports from Tamilnadu have increased from a mere Rs. 36 crore in 1994-95 to a phenomenal Rs. 400 crore in 1997-98 and continues to grow at a CAGR of over 70%. The hardware exports in the year 1997-98 are in excess of Rs. 700 crore. With over 15,000 professionals presently working in Tamilnadu, we have one of the largest pools of software professionals in the country."

The Third International Tamil Internet Conference 'Tamil Internet 2000' held in Singapore launched  the International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil (INFITT). The words of its  Executive Director, Mr.Arun Mahizhnan at Tamil Internet 2000 sought to encapsulated the elements of the Tamil digital revolution:

"...As with any journey, one has to start with the first step - usually a small step. In the Tamil diaspora's case, we have taken several long strides in the short time so far. We now have to chart the course for a long journey. However, in true Internet spirit, market forces will decide the fate of this peregrination. The Tamil community is fortunate, as it is resource rich in terms of knowledge, technology, culture and creativity which are critical success factors in the webworld. Perhaps the three elements that will shape Tamil Internet are community, content, and commerce. In a world of simultaneous aggregation and disaggregation, the Tamil community should take advantage of aggregation to leverage its not inconsiderable strength of 65 million members..."

Tamil Internet 2001 in Kuala Lumpur, Tamil Internet 2002 in San FranciscoTamil Internet 2003 - Chennai and Tamil Internet 2004 - Singapore reflect the continuing efforts of INFITT to nurture the Tamil digital revolution.

The Vanni Institute of Technology was established by the International Tamil Technical Professionals' Organization in June 2003 in the town of Kilinochchi in Tamil Eelam. Its  object was to teach the latest technology to the people of Tamil Eelam, generate high-tech employment in the region and prepare them to compete in the international market.

Many Tamil software professionals (in the so called 'developed world') are looking at returning to their homeland as the political and economic climate becomes more attuned to their own aspirations - for themselves and their children. The digital revolution may be laying the foundations for a reverse brain drain in the years to come.

At the same time, masses of people in Tamil Nadu, Malaysia, in Tamil Eelam and in the island of Sri Lanka will benefit from their interaction with the Tamil diaspora - an interaction which has only just begun and an interaction which will be a two way process. Digitisation is enabling the Tamil diaspora to link back with its roots more easily - nourish those roots and in turn be nourished by the invigorating contact with the ground. Globalisation and localisation are taking place at the same time.

Mark P. Whitaker of the University of South Carolina argued in 2004 -

".. Tamilnetcom, an Internet news agency put together by a group of Sri Lankan Tamils to address the Tamil diaspora and influence English-speaking elites, subverted international news coverage during Sri Lanka's civil war by making "ironic" use of the discursive styles of journalism and anthropology... (and) that this constituted a particular form of autoethnographic popular anthropology that challenged professional anthropology, and in some ways sought to replace it."

In April 2005 Red Hat launched a  Tamil version of the Linux operating system -

"..Red Hat India, a provider of open source solutions has launched a Tamil version of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system ..
In addition to the operating system, the Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 4-Tamil includes office suite with a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool as well as a web browser (Firefox) and e-mail client. ..Red Hat is targeting the government and educational institutions for marketing its software... The cost for the entire Linux version-4 Tamil suite subscription cost is Rs 1,950, which includes telephonic and web-based technical support for the first year and upgrades for seven years..."

In the same month Microsoft launched its  Tamil interface in Tamil Nadu -

"Microsoft India has launched Office Tamil 2003, a Tamil language interface that provides users a complete range of applications. The product was officially launched by M Karunanidhi, former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, and Dayanidhi Maran, Union minister of communication and information technology..."

And Tamil Language Computing Initiatives Launch at Chennai on 15 April 2005 was marked by the Release of Free ‘Tamil Software Tools & Fonts’.

The Swiss Tamil Educational Project in Information Technology for Homeland  has as its objective -

 "தாயகத்திலுள்ள பின்தங்கிய பிரதேச மாணவர்களுக்கு கணனிக்கல்வியைக் கற்பித்தலும் தொடர்ந்து மேம்படுத்தலும்."

The Kanini Project, Tamil Nadu led by major Tamil writer Sujatha Rangarajan is aimed at providing a 100% Tamil desktop PC with open source applications to the Tamil community.

In March 2007,  Tamil Nadu finalized a tender for 40,000 Lenovo dual boot desktops which can be installed with both Novell's Suse Linux and Microsoft's Windows XP Starter Edition. According to C. Umashankar, managing director of Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (Elcot), the desktops will be deployed across schools and government departments in the state.

The print revolution brought Tamil from the ola leaves to paper, from the select few literati to the many. The digital revolution is bringing Tamil from paper to the computer and the internet. Swaminathatha Iyer and Thamotherampillai heralded the Tamil renaissance in the 19th century.  Today, a Tamil digital renaissance is taking place - and is helping to bring Tamil people together not simply culturally but also in political and economic terms. 

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