Saturday, October 14, 2006


Chillu Encoding

Tale of a Flip Flop

The Rachana Team had vigorously opposed encoding of the Chillu as characters in the Unicode Standards. Their opposition was so vigorous, that the move actually made it into the daily news papers in Malayalam. At the end of a long and tedious (to me) debate, the Unicode Consortium decided to encode the Chillus. And then, the Rachana team stepped in, and sent in a barrage of documents (rather, arguments) which they initially did not to be discussed in public. The confusion created was immense, that the consortium decided to defer the move till further information emerges.

Sorry, none of the info is available on line - the mailing list is password protected to prevent email address harvesting (the password is available on line for the asking), and the Malayalam newspapers use proprietary encoding and proprietary, non-standard fonts, so no links for those wanting to dig for more info. But, some of the arguments in favour of encoding are listed out at the varamozhi site. My arguments are listed somewhere on the web.

Finally, at the end of all this, Smt. K. G. Sulochana, an official of the Trivandrum unit of C-DAC was able to access a document submitted by one of the members of the team to and send excerpts to the Indic mailing list run by Unicode. The document is titled ``Key Board Mapping & Layout for Malayalam -- Some random thoughts, by K. H. Hussain of Rachana Akshara Vedi.

Here is an excerpt:-

``Unicode hasn't provided slots for chillu which are badly needed.''

This confirms one suspision I had about the Rachana People - they are good at heart, understand some issues involved in encoding but are being misled by somebody. They had the magnanimity to release their excellent set of Rachana fonts under the GNU/GPL - the first copy was handed over to none other than Richard M. Stallman himself.


Child Labour

Child Labour

Now that the ban on child labour in domestic work and eateries has come into effect, I was a bit surprised to find some material (1) (2) on the web which insists that the ban is bad.

While people have the absolute freedom to have their own opinion, I am a bit startled by one blog statement which holds that the problem is related to religion and family planning. Religion and population may or may not influence existence (or absence) of child labour. As an individual who, in his official capacity as an officer of the Labour Department of Government of Kerala, I never found any of the so called `factors' which allegedly cause child labour exist in any of the cases of child labour I have come across. Such cacophony only distracts from the real causes of child labour. I may be wrong in the list below, but they represent the most common causes of child labour in the instances of child labour I detected.

  • poverty
  • cheap labour
  • desire to gain sympathy
  • laziness on part of parents / guardians

    Do not bother me with questions like what I did when I came across the cases of child labour; At the time I detected them, it was legitimate to employ children doing those jobs.

    I wish to reiterate that nothing above is government policy; nor does anything above detract from my liability or ability to enforce government's policy.

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