INFITT - Objectives and Achievements
1. What is the mandate of INFITT?
The International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil (
INFITT ) is founded for the purpose of coordinating Tamil Information Technology
efforts worldwide, furthering the growth of on-line Tamil content globally, and
facilitating the development of new Information Technologies for the advancement
of Tamil culture, language, education and skill development, especially through
global information infrastructure.
INFITT will provide a forum and a mechanism for coordinating
such activities through conferences, workshops, symposia, meetings, working
groups, commissioned research and studies and other means, legal and
2. What efforts INFITT has taken to meet its mandate/objectives?
INFITT attempts to meet its mission objectives through three key
i) promote dialogue by facilitating networking of key
players with different background/expertise e/needs;
ii) provide technical forums (in the form of Working groups
and Discussion lists) in key areas of Tamil computing technology development
iii) Organize international conferences in the area of Tamil
computing in different parts of the world where there is a substantial Tamil
3. Has there really been any interaction and support of regional
governments for INFITT efforts?
Yes, we can cite several specific examples:
i) When INFITT was initially launched in 2000, govt.
representatives of all leading countries and states (Tamilnadu, Singapore,
Malaysia, Sri Lanka) participated at the ministerial level and committed
ii) Govt of Singapore provided financial support for the
Secretariat initially for 3 years;
Tamil Virtual University is the IT Task Force focal point for Tamilnadu
Govt and INFITT has been given exofficio representation in the Tamilnadu IT
Task Force committees; IT Secretary of Tamilnadu has participated in several
of the INFITT-run Tamil internet conferences.
iv) Govt. of Tamilnadu has twice provided full financial
support to organize Tamil Internet Conferences of INFITT in Chennai.
4. Are there specific examples where online technical forums
produced concrete results?
At least four of the eight specialist working groups launched
have produced clear results:
WG1 has compiled a glossary of technical terms in Tamil for use by leading
MNCs (Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Sun, ...) and Open Source Software in their
products (OS to applications) .
WG2 worked closely with Unicode Technical Committee in the review of current
Tamil Unicode block; helped UTC rewrite block description and add new characters
such as symbols to the Tamil block.
worked closely with Multilingual Domain Name Consortium. For Tamil Domain names,
WG3 helped to define equivalents in Tamil for extensions like .org, .net, .gov.
WG5 examined various transliteration schemes for Tamil and has produced a
technical note on usage of some, as recommended standards.
International MNCs like Microsoft, Yahoo and Unicode all have
appreciated the key contributions of the WGs. Even United Nations agencies have
cited INFITT as a typical example where community user groups can play a
positive role in standards development.
5. Font Encoding is very basic to language computing. What role
did INFITT play in working out standards for font encoding?
First, it must be pointed out that INFITT is NOT a
standard-setting authority for Tamil. There are regional Govt. agencies (like
Bureau of Standards of Govt. of India) and International Organizations (such as
IETF and IANA).
INFITT role consists mainly in bringing together all key players
of different regions of the world and assist these groups work out mutually
acceptable standards. INFITT organised several specific working groups (WG2
on existing Tamil Unicode block)
on 8-bit encoding and WG8 on 16-bit encoding).
It is up to Tamilnadu Government to make best use of these
international forums to work out consensus-based standards acceptable to
everyone globally. Wherever possible, INFITT has provided technical input and
evaluation and in the case of 8-bit encoding even tried hard (sadly in vain) to
work out a unified standard fusing TAB and TSCII.
6. What are the benefits of the annual Tamil Internet
First, TICs are the only occasion for Tamil software developers
from leading MNCs and independents to meet, discuss key issues and to learn
about developments in all key areas of Tamil computing. Regular participation
from leading MNCs (Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Sun, IBM, Adobe, ...), Professors
and Students of leading academic institutions (from Tamilnadu, Singapore,
Malaysia and Sri Lanka) has shown clearly the need for such conferences.
Co-sponsoring with sharing of financial costs by leading Institutions such as
Univ. of California at Berkeley also confirms the utility of these annual meets.
Community Hub of the Conference (where Tamil software is
demonstrated) is a popular component in TICs held in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and
Chennai. Several thousand visitors (school children accompanied by their
teachers in particular) passed through the stalls.
7. Tamilnadu is where majority of Tamils live. Hence Tamilnadu
Govt. has every reason to have a major say in all issues related to Tamil. How
does INFITT ensure equitable representation of Tamils residents in other parts
of the world?
Operationally INFITT has adopted a three level democratic
General Body, composed of grass roots membership elects 51-member
General Council (like a state assembly). GC in turn elects a 12-member
(like the government composed of ministers). INFITT Constitution has put in
proportional representation in both GC and EC, so that no single region can
dominate the proceedings or decisions of INFITT. Tamilnadu has one-third
representation in both bodies.
8. Who financially supports INFITT?
Since its launch in 2000, Singapore Govt. supported the costs of
running a Secretariat in Singapore for 3 years.
Since then INFITT runs on its own. For its routine operational
costs, INFITT depends on annual dues from its members. For major events such as
Tamil Internet Conferences, INFITT depends on support of regional governments
and local businesses and sponsorship of major MNCs with interests in Tamil
9. In what way would I becoming a member help advance the
mission of INFITT?
INFITT has already built up (continue to build) strong working
relationships with leading MNCs (Microsoft, Apple, Unicode, Yahoo, Oracle,
Sun,...). In several cases we have established formal liaison relationship. For
any global organization such as INFITT, its credibility is seen largely by the
extent of its grass roots membership and regional bodies support. So we need to
have a large grass roots membership, with members coming from all over the
world. Also if you have specific ideas on Tamil IT, here is your chance to
influence how Tamil IT evolves. Get involved. Be counted.
10. How do I become a member of INFITT? Any current promotional
It has been 3 years since INFITT held election for its 51-member
General Council and 12-member Executive Committee. INFITT is anxious to conduct
election as soon as possible, preferably before end of 2007. With this in mind,
currently there is a promotional drive for people to join INFITT. Anyone
interested in INFITT and who subscribes to its Constitution, can become a member
by registering via online gateway:
Annual dues for individual members (with voting rights) are
US$25 for those residents in developed economies such as North America, Western
Europe, Singapore, Australasia,..) and US$10 for those residents in developing
economies (India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia,...). Those who sign up now, annual dues
paid will be credited for year 2008 with rest of 2007 subscription added as
11. Are there any special forums, assistance for young students?
INFITT wants to encourage young students of schools and colleges
to take active interests in Tamil computing, Tamil IT. For this, we have created
a new "associate membership" category for registered students of academic
institutions, with NO annual dues to pay. We have set up special forums (at
http://www.infitt.org/forum/ ) to provide online help on Tamil software and to
take projects in Tamil IT areas.