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Telugu joins Unicode Consortium

Telugu has become a permanent member of the US-based Unicode Consortium, paving the way for standardised, user-friendly fonts and scripts for the language on computers.

Telugu is the first Indian language to join the consortium as a full permanent member although two other Indian languages -- Hindi and Tamil -- are already institutional members, said information technology minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah.

Other members of the consortium are Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Google and IBM.

The standards developed by Unicode form the foundation for software internationalisation in all major operating systems, search engines and applications. “This is a major step. Telugu has been recognised as a pracheena bhasha (classical language) last year.

There are over 84 million Telugu-speaking people in Andhra Pradesh and another 110 million outside India. Mobile penetration in the state is high at 75 per cent and it is time to modernise the language and make it a mass communication tool,” Lakshmaiah said.

The minister attended the first International Telugu Internet Conference (ITIC) in California, recently, which brought together leaders in the field of language computing relating to Telugu for a comprehensive overview of the expanding area of research and development.

He said this recognition would open up business opportunities in the field of internet, information technology and telecommunications. “Now there will be more tools available and plans are afoot to introduce spell check, grammar check and thesaurus for Telugu,” he added. Currently only two fonts are available in Telugu -- Gowthami owned by Microsoft and Pothana, owned by a private company -- as against a plethora of fonts available in English.

To encourage Telugu fonts usage, Lakshmaiah said the government would bring an order making it compulsory for all departments to issue correspondence, notices, tenders and other forms of communication only in Telugu besides revamping government websites with user-friendly Telugu fonts.

Meanwhile, to attract investments, the government is contemplating providing free wi-fi to all users in the city. Currently, there are only ten cities across the world with complete wi-fi zones but none in India. “This will be a good selling point to attract investments,” he explained.

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