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Tasa to push for Unicode

Gobindapur (Baksa), Feb. 3: Asam Sahitya Sabha’s new general secretary Prahlad Chandra Tasa today said one of his top priorities would be to fight for ensuring an independent Unicode script status for Assamese. The language is currently listed as a sub-script of Bengali.

Talking to The Telegraph at Dr Bhupen Hazarika Samannay Khetra here, Tasa said, “We will discuss the issue in the first meeting of the new executive body to expedite the process.”

The Sabha earlier asked the Unicode Consortium in New York to rename its webpage on the Bengali script set (which is now Bengali and Assamese) to Kamrupi. The Sabha was of the view that Assamese (and Bengali) uses the Kamrupi script.

Several people, such as writer and researcher Satyakam Phukan, have taken up the issue with the government and the Unicode Consortium, demanding a separate slot for the Assamese script.

They also want naming of the script set as Assamese, arguing that the language has so many unique characteristics that bracketing it with other scripts would be an injustice. The Sabha’s outgoing general secretary, Paramananda Rajbongshi, said if the issue could not be resolved now, the language would lose its importance. “That is why we have organised symposia to discuss the issue thoroughly. We discussed Unicode yesterday too,” he said, adding that in a symposium held on June 7, 2011, in Jorhat, the Sabha had made its stand clear on the issue.

“This morning, too, the issue was raised and discussed during a meeting here on the Assamese language. We have already contacted the Assam government and the Centre on the issue. We will keep on working on it as it is related to the development of the language,” Rajbongshi said.

He said scholars like Aparna Konwar, Madhu Bodo, Bibha Bharali and Ramesh Pathak took part in the meeting today and added that the scholars also discussed what should be done to keep Assamese up to date in a fast developing digitised world. “We have been in touch with the Unicode Consortium. If the issue is resolved, it will be a leap forward for the Assamese language. It will be resolved soon.”

“There is nothing called an Assamese script. It is Kamrupi. Had we used that term instead of Assamese, the problem would not have appeared, as it would also encompass Bengali. Besides, it will make our demand with the Unicode Consortium stronger,” Ranjbongshi said, adding that the Sabha did subscribe to the term “Pub-Nagari” to denote the Assamese script.

“It was just a suggestion from an individual but the Sabha never used it. We use the term Kamrupi,” he said.