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Tamil Internet 2004 - Tamil IT for Tomorrow

7th International Tamil Internet Conference
see also Tamil Internet 2004 - Official Web Site
Singapore 11-12 December 2004

[ see also 7th Tamil Internet Conference, Singapore - Special Issue of Min Manjari -
உலகத் தமிழ்த் தகவல் தொழில் நுட்ப மன்றத்தின் இதழ்]

The Singapore Communiquι [also in PDF]

The International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil (INFITT) held its seventh annual international conference, Tamil Internet 2004, on December 11 and 12, 2004 in Singapore. The series began in Singapore in 1997 and this is the third time Singapore is hosting this conference. Singapore was asked to host the conference on short notice – less than five months - and the Singapore Organizing Committee (SOC) under the leadership of Mr Arun Mahizhnan, delivered the conference on schedule. INFITT records its deep appreciation to SOC and the other two committees – the International Organising Committee (IOC) under the leadership of Mr Muthu Nedumaran and the Conference Programme Committee (CPC) under the leadership of Dr K Kalyanasundaram – which together helped organise this conference.

Mr Muthu Nedumaran, Chair, INFITT (third from left) giving the opening address at Tamil Internet 2004
Others in picture: (L to R) Mr Arun Mahizhnan, A/P Tan Tin Wee, Prof M Anandakrishnan, Prof V Sankaranarayanan, Dr K Kalyanasundaram

2 International Participation & Sponsorship

More than 60 expert delegates from countries such as India, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and USA participated in the conference. Representatives from various premier IT related institutions such as Anna University, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), ICTA of Sri Lanka, Indian Institute of Science, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Tamil Virtual University, University of Pennsylvania, and National University of Singapore contributed to the deliberations of the conference. The conference also had the support of the leaders of IT industry such as Microsoft, Maxell, and Oracle as well as the Singapore government support through the Infocomm Development Authority and the Tamil Internet Steering committee, and several other local sponsors. INFITT wishes to thank all of them for their attendance and kind support.

Alternate Model

This conference has offered an alternate model for INFITT’s annual Tamil Internet Conference (TIC). Many of the earlier TICs had three hubs -- Conference, Business and Community hubs -- in order to provide interfaces for the IT experts, the business community and the public at large. Many of the TICs also had parallel sessions on multiple tracks. But Tamil Internet 2004 experimented with a new single-track format entirely focused on technical issues and it enabled extensive and in-depth discussions on those issues. The broad consensus at the end of the conference was that this was a successful experiment and could be used as an additional model for future TICs.

Tamil Internet 2004 delegates in discussion

 Conference Programme

“Tamil IT for Tomorrows” was the core theme of Tamil Internet 2004. It had seven sessions under the headings of Tools for Tamil Computing, Mobile Devices, Application Software, E-Learning, Speech Technology, Tamil Internet and Tamil Unicode. Altogether 21 technical papers were presented in these seven sessions and three special guest speakers also addressed the conference. The conference papers were produced in CD, folder and book forms for the conference participants and are also now available from the INFITT Secretariat.

The conference inaugural session was unusual in the sense it had no participation by any political leaders as it was earlier decided that this new format should be confined to the focus of the conference, which was the discussion of technical issues. Therefore, it featured only welcome and introductory remarks by the Chair of INFITT and Chair of IOC, Mr Muthu Nedumaran, the Chair of SOC, Mr Arun Mahizhnan, and the Chair of CPC, Dr Kalyanasundaram. The session also included, as in the past, the INFITT Executive Director’s annual report for the benefit of the conference participants. In addition, this year there were two other unusual features at the inaugural session. First, there was a special message for the conference from the President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, a distinct honour for the conference. He not only passed on his good wishes for the conference but also specifically suggested Tamil search engines and internet application architecture as two key areas for the consideration of the conference participants. The second feature was the INFITT resolution that expressed its deep concern over the decision of the University of Cologne on the closure of the Institute of Indology and Tamil Studies.

The inaugural session also recorded the condolences of INFITT on the demise of three Tamil IT enthusiasts -- Dr Tamizhkudimagan and Dr Pakkrisamy, both from Tamil Nadu, and Mr Ramalingam Shanmugalingam from Canada. On the first evening of the conference, a special event was held by Bharathiyarnet.com to introduce the newly established website to celebrate and propagate the work of the great Tamil poet Bharathi.

On the second evening, the conference closed with a concluding session and a briefing for the media. INFITT also held its members meeting at the end of the conference.

Presentation on Mobile Devices
(L to R) Mr S Baskaran, Mr D Sivaraj, Dr A G Ramakrishnan, Mr Niranjayan

New Initiatives

Tamil Internet 2004 discussed many new directions and initiatives as well some of the previous concerns such as the standard key board for Tamil and the migration to Unicode. Following are some of the most important conclusions and initiatives that emerged from those deliberations:

Tamil in Mobile Devices

Three approaches were discussed in the conference on using the keypads of mobile telephones for inputting Tamil messages and there was a call for some convergence in these approaches. This is an indication of the amount of work done by various groups in this area. Tamil in mobile devices is well on its way to becoming a reality very soon.

Tamil E-Commerce

Tamil based application software for an on-line book shop was demonstrated in the conference and it is expected that it would become a prototype for various other vending organisations in the web. Developed by using open source codes, this would lead to the development and localisation of various other models.

Tamil E-Books

Digitizing Tamil texts and books received a great impetus. Prof. N. Balakrishnan, of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, a key member of the team that is leading the movement to digitising a million books in India as requested by the President of India, has offered free software, expertise and high power scanners to digitise Tamil books. Many delegates have expressed keen interest in the project.

Tamil Speech Corpus

The conference concluded that there was a clear need for a large speech corpus that would help mobile telephony and speech recognition technology and urged relevant institutions to initiate multilateral efforts to build up such a corpus.


Conference deliberations have also indicted new directions for better transliteration tools and tools for migration from one encoding to another. The conference concluded that there was no need to revise the current standard Tamil99 keyboard for popular use. However, it recognised that the specifications can be improved from time to time based on end-user feedback.

The conference could not come to any firm conclusion on the need for an alternate 16 bit scheme to Tamil Unicode, though a whole session was devoted to this topic. It was decided that further discussions were needed on this subject.

Call for Papers - Announcement by Dr.K. Kalyanasundaram
Chair, Conference Programme Committee
(Email: [email protected])

Tamil Internet 2004 is organised by the International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil (INFITT) with the support of Singapore's Tamil Internet Steering Committee and other organisations. It will be held at the National University of  Singapore premises.

A Conference Programme Committee (CPC) has been formed with Dr. K. Kalyanasundaram of Switzerland as the Chair, Mr. Arun Mahizhnan of Singapore as Vice-Chair and Mr. N. Maalan (India), Mr. A. Elangovan (India), Mr. D. Sivaraj (India), Dr. Vasu Renganathan (USA) as members), to deal with paper submission and scheduling of the conference content.

Prof. V. Sankaranarayanan, Director of Tamil Virtual University, Chennai, has agreed to serve as Advisor to the CPC for Tamil Internet 2004.

In contrast to multi-hub, large audience format of earlier Tamil Internet Conferences (TICs), Tamil Internet 2004 will be an intensive, focused technical conference with only one session scheduled at a time. More time will be devoted to in-depth collective discussions (workshop style) than in formal presentations.

"Tamil IT for Tomorrow " has been chosen as the theme for the Tamil Internet 2004 conference. We invite technical papers on all topics relating Tamil Information Technology. The deadline for paper abstracts is 16 September and for the full paper, November 16. There will be a peer review of the submitted papers before acceptance. The abstract should be detailed enough for CPC to make a decision on acceptance. After the review, successful candidates will be informed before end September.

To assist the CPC select papers for formal presentations, please send us one or two pages (A4 size) of the abstract of your presentation by the above date. Papers may be presented in English, Tamil or bilingual (Tamil-English) format. As with the earlier TICs, all submissions must be in electronic form.

For papers with content in Tamil or are bilingual, please use either TAB or TSCII (version 1.7) encoding. Characters that are not part of the encoding prescribed must be included as images (jpg/gif). The outline/summary of your presentation should also include your full name, designation, address, email and contact numbers.

We assume that submission of a paper for possible presentation at Tamil Internet 2004 implies attendance at the conference and presentation in person by at least one author of the paper. The Singapore organizers have offered to provide free boarding and lodging, free conference registration to one author of each paper accepted for oral presentation.

As in the past, papers presented in the conference will be archived, printed and distributed as INFITT sees fit and INFITT will retain the rights for these purposes.

Please send in the abstract of your presentation to the mailbox <[email protected]>  as soon as possible.

We would appreciate very much if you take note of the deadlines and adhere to them: Abstracts by 16 September - Full paper by 16 November

We greatly look forward to your co-operation and active participation at the forthcoming Tamil Internet 2004 Conference.

The following is a list of topics (not exhaustive) to be covered at the Tamil Internet 2004 Conference:

1. Tamil Character Encoding Standards

• Focus on 16bit schemes, status of Unicode, platform and application level support

• Issues on Collation, supporting a sort-order

• 8bit to 16bit Migration issues: conversion and coexistence of application and data

• Tamil99 keyboard for Unicode input

2. Multilingual Domain Names

• Discussion on multi-lingual domain names and email addresses with a focus on Tamil

• Technical sessions on architecture, dependencies, encoding and implementation issues

• General discussion on usage, take-up rate and INFITT's role in promoting usage

3. Tamil in Indic language cluster and multi-lingual environments

• Classification of scripts (Alphabetic, Ideographic and Syllabic) & multi-script/multilingual environments

• Co-existence with "Indic" family of scripts/languages – Operating Systems and Application issues

• Co-existence with other syllabic and ideographic scripts, Chinese and Arabic in particular

4. Tamil Optical Character Recognition, Machine Translation, Spell Checking and Speech Recognition

• Current initiatives and progress over the last 5 years

• "Red-flag" (problem) areas and bottle necks

• Technological and linguistic dependencies

• Parallel initiatives: compare and contrast development in other languages besides English

• Proposed solutions

5. Mobile and hand-held technologies

• Development tools and libraries for mobile and wireless devices: phones, PDAs etc.

• Issues with implementing Tamil at platform and application levels

• Tamil input standards for mobile phone keypads

• Hand-writing recognition (graffiti) – considerations for Tamil script

• Character encoding for internal representation and data exchange

6. Open source software and Tamil localisation

• Tamil open-source initiatives: Tamil-Linux, Tamil-OO.o, Tamil- Mozilla etc.

• Translation and localisation issues: glossary, locale settings (Tamil-India, Tamil-Sri Lanka, Tamil-Singapore, Tamil-Malaysia etc)

• Tools and technologies for localisation

• Future projects

7. Education Technology

• Compare and contrast use of technology in other language areas: English, Hindi, Sinhala, Chinese, Arabic, Malay, etc

• Identify requirements specific to Tamil

• Demonstrate existing applications and propose areas for improvements

8. Database driven applications

• General purpose business applications

• Tamil locale handling in 16bit enabled databases

• Implementing sort-order

• Application specific issues: Web (blogs, portals, ezines, messaging, ecommerce), Fat-Client (desktop centric)

9. E-Government

• Challenges and prospects for introducing E-Government

• Issues of privacy and security

• Issues of multilingualism

• Multilingual Archival Systems, Multilingual PDF forms creation and filling 



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