[fosscomm] Letter to e-Governance department, Government of Karnataka

Gora Mohanty gora at srijan.in
Wed Jul 22 21:46:38 PDT 2009

On Wed, 22 Jul 2009 20:59:05 +0530
vinay ವಿನಯ್ <vinay at itforchange.net> wrote:

> Dear All,
> One of the key goals of FOSSCOMM was to be able to write to
> various departments/agencies relating to adoption of FOSS and to
> engage with the department and persuade them to adopt FOSS.
> One of the fundamental issues in Karnataka is that the 'official'
> font of the Government - Nudi, does not work (well) on GNU/Linux.
> This is preventing government departments/agencies from adopting

How is this an official font? Why the quotes around "official"?
Firstly, we should now be promoting Unicode-encoded fonts, and
pushing for 8-bit fonts not to be used and certainly not in
the capacity of an "official font for a language", whatever
that means. Although it does make sense for the government to
standardise on one font, the idea of mandating one official font
dates back to pre-Unicode days, and now is usually an excuse to
ensure lock-in to that font.
lists several fonts, but I do not know Kannada enough to be
able to evaluate the completeness, or suitability of each.
Several of them are free in the true sense of the word, and
we should ask that the government use them as a starting point.
Our position should be that the production of several libre,
high-quality fonts in any given Indian language should be
a publicly-funded exercise.

> We have drafted a letter for the e-Governance secretary of the
> Govt of Karnataka, discussing the issues relating to Nudi and
> requesting that they address the issue .

> As a consequence of our Bangalore FOSSCOMM meeting, some of the 
> Bangalore organizations are already working on the technical
> aspects of Nudi, this letter is to get the government also into
> this process and own up/complement  work done by the FOSS
> community.

The letter is a little confusing, as it says not fully Unicode
compliant, whereas from other statements in the annexure, it
seems that the font is completely non-compliant with Unicode.
It is also not correct to say that the font is ASCII-encoded.
Rather, from what I understand from the letter, the font
follows some non-standardised encoding that is guaranteed to
break on Unicode-compliant platforms.

We should make a big deal about ensuring that the font follows
open standards (Unicode in this case), and is available under an
open licence. What is Unicode, and why it is important needs to
be brought out more clearly. I will put in some time tonight to
redraft this letter. I think this can be an important tool in
pushing for the actual adoption of the government of India policy
on FOSS in e-governance.

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