INTERNATIONAL FORUM for lNFORMATION TECHNOLOGY in TAMIL (INFITT)
Tamil is an ancient language but it will remain an ancient unless it takes advantage of Information Technology. Information, as technology, got its start in the United States in the early 1950’s. The language of choice was English. Handling of Tamil text materials in computers, in Tamil script form, became possible in the mid-eighties through the advent of a handful of Tamil fonts and text editors. Free fonts, for use in all three of the commonly used computer platforms (Windows, Mac and Unix), and the emergence of the World Wide Web, as a powerful medium for information exchange, started from the mid-nineties. It enabled the widespread exchange of Tamil digital materials worldwide through Internet-based communication tools (Email, Web). Tamil Information Technology efforts expanded phenomenally and became firmly established amongst Tamils worldwide thereby introducing a phase transition in the Tamil, and through it, Tamil culture.
The first International Conference devoted to Tamil Computing-TamilNet 97- organized at the National University of Singapore, in June 97, laid the foundations for bringing together, annually, key players in the field of Tamil Information Technology. The primary issues for attention were delineated and the urgent need for standardization of basic elements, such as font encoding and associated keyboards, was recognized. The second International Conference-Tamilnet 99- was organized in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India in February 1999. It brought together representatives of Tamil speaking peoples and took a landmark step in recommending official glyph encoding and keyboard layout standards. The third International Conference -Tamil Inaiyam 2000-was held in Singapore during 22-24 July 2000.
As a follow up to Tamilnet 99, National Steering Committees have been formed in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and Singapore and several regional committees being established, to promote Tamil Information Technology in the respective countries and regions. Substantial amounts of monetary and human resources have been made available to develop standards and software in key areas of Tamil Information Technology.
There is an urgent need to coordinate the efforts of various national and regional initiatives, through an International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil (hereinafter referred to as INFITT), consisting of regional and national representations, concerned institutions and individuals.
Many Asian languages already have such International Steering Committees. An example is the Asia-Pacific Networking Group (AP-NG? devoted to Chinese. In addition to China, there are regional representatives from North America, Europe, country and individual representatives from Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan etc. The chairmanship is rotated and all decisions are collectively made. Another type of association is the Unicode Consortium, a voluntary grouping of representatives of major hardware and software industry that coordinates and leads world-wide efforts on the emerging Unicode standard. INFITT is an international body created to meet the felt needs of the Tamil Information Technology community.
The Tamil speaking people around the world, presently of about 80 million, strongly feel that the preservation and development of their culture and language critically depends on their ability to come to terms and taking advantage of evolving Information Technology. The International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil ( INFITT ) is founded for the purpose of coordinating Tamil Information Technology efforts worldwide, furthering the growth of on-line Tamil content globally, and facilitating the development of new Information Technologies for the advancement of Tamil culture, language, education and skill development, especially through global information infrastructure. The INFITT will provide a forum and a mechanism for coordinating such activities through conferences, workshops, symposia, meetings, working groups, commissioned research and studies and other means, legal and appropriate.
- The INFITT is established with the support of governmental and non-governmental organizations, agencies and institutions, the private sector, foundations, research and education institutions, industry and concerned individuals all focused on the promotion and development of Tamil culture and language through Information Technology.
- The INFITT shall operate as a non-profit non-governmental autonomous organization, international in status, and non-political in management, staffing and operations. The INFITT shall be organized for coordination, research, development and education.
- INFITT does not have a regulatory or enforcement role. Its primary functions are advisorial, promotional, facilitative and liaison with bodies and individuals concerned with the promotion of Tamil Information Technology
- The collective decisions of the INFITT shall be in the form of recommendations to multinational agencies, nations, states, economies, organizations, institutions and individuals.
- The mandate of the INFITT is to promote Tamil culture and language through Information Technology, computing, Tamil Internet, Tamil electronic content by the coordination of their regional, national, international and individual efforts and resources worldwide.
- The aims and key objectives of INFITT are,
- To organize and coordinate the efforts of its own policy and technical groups, various regional and national steering groups, independent groups (including Internet-based 3 organizations) industry and individuals and, within a global framework, facilitate, dialogue and promote cooperation and collaboration among various groups and individuals;
- To identify key application areas for development of Tamil Information Technology, to define broad guidelines for their implementation and to provide technical assistance wherever possible;
- To develop norms and standards for Tamil computing, including text and data handling, across different platforms, and the development of “open source-application programming interfaces (OS-API);
- To promote education and the dissemination of Tamil Information Technology knowledge regarding Tamil computing;
- To organize “Tamil Internet” (“Tamil Inaiyam”) conferences regularly (preferably annually) in different parts of the world in cooperation with concerned national organizations.
- To provide a mechanism for the Tamil Information Technology community to be represented collectively at international, regional and national Information Technology and networking organizations and their conferences or meetings, and to act as a liaison body and a voice for Tamil Information Technology in these bodies.
- The INFITT shall serve as an international catalyst, forum and resource devoted to developing competence and expertise in Tamil Information Technology.
- The INFITT will complement its activities with those of other international and national societies, associations and institutions, industry and individuals, that have similar aims. Its activities will, wherever appropriate, be planned and implemented in collaboration with such societies, associations, institutions and individuals.
- The INFITT will promote the standing of Tamil Information Technology in the global arena through liaison and cooperation with other international bodies.
- In fulfilling the aforementioned aims and functions, in the spirit of the guiding principles, the lNFITT shall engage in a range of activities including:
- holding meetings and arranging lectures, training courses, workshops seminars, symposia and conferences;
- commissioning the publishing and dissemination of books, periodicals, reports and research and working papers through print and electronic on-line and other media;
- establishing and maintaining contact with individuals and institutions with expertise in relevant fields through collaborative research, seminars, exchange visits, sabbatical attachments and likewise;
- commissioning studies and other projects on behalf of or in collaboration with other organizations and institutions;
- maintaining offices, information resources (including websites, databases, archives) and other facilities as may be necessary for its proper functioning;
- assist in development of international standards and norms in formats recognized by the lnformation Technology industry, such as Internet Drafts (ID) and Requests for Comments (RFC), in all key areas of Tamil Information Technology;
- and taking such other actions as may INFITT further and fulfill the aims and objectives of the
- The INFITTs activities, programs and plans shall be reviewed periodically, taking into account the changing needs of developing and developed economies and the INFITT’s capacities in meeting these needs.
INFITT and its Organs
- The INFITT is a corporate body, consisting of a General Body of members, having a common scale.
- It can sue and be sued
- The organs of INFITT are
- i) The General Body,
- ii) the General Council, and
iii) An Executive Committee including a Secretariat
Members of General Body
- Members of General Body may consist of
- A state;
- A regional body;
- A national body;
- Non-governmental organizations, agencies, institutions, the private sector, research and education institutions or industry;
- Anyone who subscribes to the Aims of INFITT and abides by its rules and regulations can become a member of General Body.
- General Council of INFITT shall periodically fix the membership fee of members in each of these categories. Continuation of membership would require prompt payment of membership fee.
- No partisan group including a state, economy, country, non-governmental organization, agency, institution, company, industry, or organization shall have majority representation in the General Body.
- Conduct of members. Members shall perform all duties for the INFITT as well as conduct their own professional activities in an ethical and professional manner. The INFITT may recommend disciplinary action for conduct of any member inconsistent with the purposes of the INFITT.
- Resignation. Any member may resign at any time. Such resignation shall be made in writing and shall take effect at the time specified therein, or, if no time is specified, at the time of receipt by the Chairman or Secretary.
- Removal. Any member can be removed by the Executive Committee subject to approval by the General Council.
- Each member shall have voting rights as per one.
INFITT General Council
1.1 The membership of the General Council shall consist of 51 members constituted by geographical, institutional and individual representation.
1.2 The geographical representation will be as follows:
Sri Lanka – 06
North America – 08
Malaysia – 04
Singapore – 03
Europe – 05
Australasia – 01
Middle East & Africa – 02
1.3 The number of Institutional Members and Members-at-large in the General Council will be 6 and they will be elected by the General Body.
1.4 Wherever there is a national or a regional steering committee, its nomination to the General Council shall be limited to 50% of that geographical unit.
1.5 The rest of the geographical representatives will be elected by their respective geographical members of the General Body.
1.6 The duration of membership to the General Council shall be limited to two years
1.7 The General Council will elect the executive committee from its membership
1.8 The General Council will review and accord its approval wherever necessary the decisions of the executive committee.
- The General Council may appoint sub or ad-hoc committees or working groups composed of appropriate technical experts to address specific topics of Tamil Information Technology as it may deem necessary for the performance of its functions. These committees/working groups will function under the direction of the Executive Committee.
- The General Council will work largely as an Internet working group, except when it meets in annual “Tamil Internet” conferences, or through a mailing list (a closed list open only to members).
- The Members of the General Council shall meet at least once a year in person, preferably during the “Tamil Internet” Conference. At this Meeting, amongst other things, the General Council shall elect or renew the office-bearers of the Executive Committee in accordance with the rules laid down in article 9.
1.1 The Executive Committee shall consist of 9 members, the Chair, the Vice-Chair, the Secretary, the immediate Past Chairman and three other Member all being members of the General Council.
1.2 The Executive Director of the Secretariat shall serve as the Secretary of the Executive Committee.
1.3 Except for the Past Chairman and the Secretary all other offices and members of the Executive Committee will be elected by the General Council from amongst its members.
2.1 The members of the Executive Committee will hold office for two years.
2.2 The Chair and Vice-Chair shall hold office for one year. In general, the Vice-Chair is Chair-elect and succeeds to the Chair the following year.
2.3 The election of the Chair and Vice-Chair may be by direct ballot or through rotation.
2.4 Tamil Nadu shall have a permanent position in the Executive Committee.
- Executive Committee Members, upon assumption of their post, shall serve in their personal capacity and are not considered, nor do they act, as official representatives of their source states, countries, economies, institution, community or organization.
- To this end, the Executive Committee shall:
- define objectives and approve plans to meet INFITT aims and monitor theachievement of these aims;
- formulate policies to be followed by the Secretary in pursuing the specified objectives;
- ensure INFITT’s cost-effectiveness, financial integrity, and accountability;
- approve INFITT’s program and budget;
- appoint an external auditor and approve an annual audit plan;
- approve INFITT’s broad organizational framework and that of the Secretariat;
- approve the INFITTs fund raising and resource mobilization strategies, policies and programs, and promote such fund raising and resource mobilization activities;
- perform all acts which may be considered necessary, suitable and proper for the attainment of any or all of the aims of the INFITT as set forth in the articles herein. In special cases or routine matters, Executive Committee may meet informally via teleconferencing or on-line asynchronous means, and take decisions.
- The Chairman of the Executive Committee shall preside over a meeting of the General Council.
- The Executive Director shall head the Secretariat and shall report to the Chairman of the Executive Committee and through him to the Executive Committee
- The Executive Director shall be responsible to the Executive Committee for coordinating the operation and management of the INFITT and for ensuring that its programs and objectives are properly developed and carried out. The Secretary shall work closely with the financial committees of the INFITT to coordinate fund raising and resource mobilization activities.
- The Executive Director shall implement the policies determined by the Executive Committee.
- The Executive Director shall be the legal representative of the INFITT.
- The INFITT shall have the following capacity: to receive, acquire or otherwise lawfully obtain from any governmental authority or from any corporation, company, association, person, firm, foundation, other entity or individual, whether international, regional or national, such charters, licenses, rights, concessions or similar assistance – financial or otherwise – as are conducive to and necessary for the attainment of the aims of the INFITT without compromising its neutrality and non-partisan, non-governmental and non-profit role in Tamil Information Technology worldwide.
- to receive, acquire or otherwise lawfully obtain from any governmental authority or from any corporation, company, association, person, firm, foundation or other entity, whether international, regional or national, by donation, grant, exchange, device, bequest, purchase or lease, either absolutely or in trust, contributions consisting of such properties, real, personal, or mixed including funds and valuable effects or items as may be useful or necessary to pursue the aims and activities of the INFITT and to hold, operate, administer, use, invest, sell, convoy or dispose of the said properties in accordance to the principles laid down elsewhere in this document;
- to enter into agreements and contracts;
- to employ persons according to its own regulations;
- to institute, and defend in, local proceedings; and
- to perform all acts and functions as may be found necessary, expedient, suitable or proper for the furtherance, accomplishment or attainment of any and/or all of the purposes and activities herein stated, or which shall appear, at any time, as conducive to or necessary and useful for the aims and activities of the INFITT.
- The budget of the INFITT shall be funded by signatories of the Establishment Agreement for INFITT, international, regional and national organizations, public and private institutions and individuals which wish to make financial and other voluntary contributions to it. The INFITT may receive contributions from other sources. It may also receive contributions and gifts toward the establishment of an endowment program.
- The financial operation of the INFITT shall be governed by financial regulations to be developed by the Secretariat and approved by the Executive Committee.
2.1 The budget for the INFITT will be approved, annually, by the Executive Committee.
2.2 The budget shall consist of two components: a “core” budget covering activities and resource requirements which are central and critical to the operational effectiveness and sustainability of INFITT, and a “special ” budget which is fully supported by voluntary funds and contributions from donors who support specific initiatives and activities of the INFITT.
2.3 Special initiatives may include named programs, activities or grants provided by donors.
- The “core” budget shall be supported primarily by fees collected from individuals, institutions and from obligatory contributions provided by signatory economies which shall be calculated in direct proportion to total GDP of each economy/state/country, except that such contribution from any one economy shall be capped at no more than 25% of the core budget.
- An annual audit of the operations of the INFITT shall be conducted by an independent international accounting firm or by the appointment of Honorary Auditors appointed by the INFITT on the recommendations of the Secretary. The results of such audits shall be made available by the Secretary to the Executive Committee. The audit report with the comments of the Executive Committee shall be circulated to all members of the INFITT.
- The deliberations of INFITT shall be conducted in a totally transparent manner.
2.1. The INFITT and its subordinate entities shall operate to the maximum extent feasible in an open and ransparent manner consistent with procedures designed to ensure fairness.
2.2. The INFITT shall maintain one or more World Wide Web sites.
- INFITT shall constantly search for additional transparency policies and transparency procedures designed to provide information about, and enhance the ability of interested persons to provide inputs to the INFITT and subordinate entities. Any such additional transparency policies and procedures shall be widely publicized by the INFITT in draft form, both within the INFITT membership and on a publicly-accessible Internet World Wide Web site maintained by the INFITT. Any such additional transparency policies and procedures may be adopted only after a process for receiving and evaluating comments and suggestions has been established by the INFITT Executive Committee, and after due consideration of any comments or suggestions received by the INFITT.
Relationships with Other Organizations
- In order to achieve its objectives in the most efficient way, the INFITT may enter into agreements for cooperation with relevant national, regional or international organizations, foundations and agencies, both public and private, and with individuals.
- This Constitution may be amended by a two-thirds majority of all voting Members of the General Body, provided notice of such a proposed amendment together with its full text shall have been mailed to all members at least eight weeks in advance of the ballot.
- The Quorum required for constitutional amendments shall be 50% of the General Body membership.
- Voting may be carried out by electronic means or as designated according to procedures instituted by the Executive Committee.
- The INFITT may be dissolved by a three-fourths majority of all voting Members, if it is determined that the purposes of the INFITT have been achieved to a satisfactory degree or if it is determined that the INFITT can or will no longer be able to function effectively.
- The Quorum required for dissolution of INFITT shall be 50% of the General Body membership.
- In the case of dissolution, any land, physical plant and other assets situated in participating economies, and made available to the INFITT, and permanent fixed capital improvements thereon shall revert to their legal owner. The other assets of the INFITT shall be transferred for use for similar purposes or distributed to institutions having purposes similar to those of the INFITT in the participating economies.
3.1. The decision of the Executive Committee, in all these matters, will be final.
1 The participants at the “Tamil Internet conference, convened to approve the Establishment Agreement, shall elect a pro-tem chairman .
2 The INFITT shall come into being with the approval of the constitution by the participants at a special meeting held during the Tamil Internet2000 conference in Singapore.
- The first General Council shall be constituted in consultation with the participants of that meeting.
- The first Executive Committee will be established by the first General Council.
- The first Executive Committee will decide on the location of the Secretariat and the appointment of Executive Director.
- Within one year, the first General Council will take necessary steps to establish the General Body.
For More Reading:
Regional Chapter Bylaws
Interim bylaw for Chapters
Student Chapter Bylaws
Interim Bylaws for Student Chapter