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ICANN mulls technical feasibility of Indian language domain names news
14 February 2008

At its 31st public meeting currently underway in New Delhi, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said that it was exploring the possibility of introducing top level domain names in local language and local scripts.

At present while India has introduced domain names at the secondary level in the local language, the top-level domain names are still in the American ASCII code.

The Indian experts in charge of language development in the ministry of information technology as well as programme head of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) Mahesh Kulkarni shared India's experience in developing a primer on how the 22 Indian languages can be categorised and what scripts and script families are.

Development of language tables, policy issues for Indic scripts also figured in the discussions. Senior experts from ICANN debated on the complexities involved in non-English languages as alternate spellings pose a problem. According to Indian experts only homographs are being considered and C-DAC had achieved Unicode character set finalisation for inclusion in the IDN.

The ICANN public meeting, which began on 11th February, draws to a close tomorrow 15 February. Speaking on the meeting, ICANN's board chairman Peter Dengate Thrush said, "India and Asia are at the heart of the internet's future - a future that ICANN is working on. internet penetration in India is at just over five per cent and growing fast - considering that one per cent is 11 million people coming online. ICANN's work on Internationalised Domain Names and new top-level domains has the potential to reach out to rest of India and begin remaking the Internet as people connect in their own languages and scripts."

ICANN's IDN programme is making about close to 100,000 characters from the languages of the world available at the top level - the part after the dot - so users can benefit from a domain name in fully localised language or script," said Tina Dam, ICANN's IDN programme director. "India has 22 official languages and has done a great deal of foundation work on how languages and scripts - or the collection of characters used in a language - can be categorized and used. There are a lot of lessons for the world coming out of the work being done in India."

"As ICANN moves forward to making the scripts and languages of the world available in all levels of domain names, the work being done in India, and the lessons learnt, will make an immeasurable contribution to the people of the world being able to get their name in their language for their Internet," Dam said.

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ICANN mulls technical feasibility of Indian language domain names