The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jaya hits back with website language revamp

Chennai, Aug. 31: Tamil Nadu is taking its two-language formula of using both Tamil and English to the worldwide web.

The websites of various state departments will be available in both the languages, chief minister Jayalalithaa said.

The move — announced at the international conference, Tamil Internet-2003, inaugurated at the Anna University here — appeared to be a rejoinder to rival M. Karunanidhi’s “soft-Hindutva” accusation against the ADMK.

The DMK’s tirade against Jayalalithaa at a party fundraiser this week had hinted her party was thus drifting away from its Dravidian roots.

The chief minister did not let go of the opportunity to take potshots at her arch rival, but without naming names. “Will the language grow or develop if somebody spoke in favour of Tamil in various platforms, just for the sake of politics'” she said.

“We see people, in the garb of promoting literary works, adding more wealth to their families. Can you call it literature if a white paper is blackened with pen' Their only aim is to sell books with a commercial angle.”

Her senior party colleague, . Pulamaipitthan, had recently regretted that Tamil scholars still had to “keep knocking on New Delhi’s doors” to get Tamil declared a classical language. His reference to some scholars’ hunger strike in Delhi followed a similar demand made by DMK’s T.R. Baalu during the no-trust debate in the Lok Sabha.

Jayalalithaa cited various steps her government had taken to promote Tamil, such as ordering the teaching of “Scientific Tamil” from primary to the higher secondary level at all government schools from this year.

She emphasised that ADMK’s was the regime which gave Rs 50 lakh as a “one-time lumpsum grant” to New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University to institute a “Tamil chair”.

The driving force behind the language-access move is the city-based Tamil Virtual University, which will implement the plan along with the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu.

The state-funded virtual varsity, which started offering diploma and degree courses last June, has caught the Tamil diaspora’s imagination with its Tamil course on the Internet.

Tamils worldwide are now using the Internet to learn and explore all facets of their language, from literary criticism to history, Jayalalithaa said.

The varsity, that has already attracted over 2,500 students from over 40 countries, is in the process of setting up a “huge digital library”, she said.

The library will encapsulate the entire range of Tamil literature, from the classic Tholkappiyam to the post-modern. A picture gallery of about 125 temples in the state has already been uploaded.

The varsity will also offer from this year a course on “Tourist Tamil”, which will comprise information related to the interests of tourists and its presentation.

E-governance, the chief minister said, was one of her government’s top priorities. She said she hoped to make some headway with the help of Tamizh Pori, a software released two days ago that can instantly translate information and databases from English to Tamil.

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, a Tamil himself, urged the delegates to help find a way to automatically make available in Tamil all the information accessed through Internet search engines.

For now, a similar facility is available for only a few European languages such as French and German, which can be translated into English when accessed on the Internet.

Kalam also asked the experts to evolve a “basic architecture” of software and hardware for Tamil-related Internet applications that can be extended to other Indian languages.

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