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Subject: Minutes of the 2nd meeting of the Apex Body on Standards for eGovernance

  • . The Second meeting of the Apex Body on Standards for eGovernance was held on 17th June 2009 at 11 AM in Centre for E-Governance, Department of Information Technology. The meeting was chaired by Secretary, DIT. Following were present for the meeting 1. Sh. R. Chandrasekhar, Secretary, DIT Chairman

  • Sh. S. R. Rao, AS (eGovernance), DIT
  • Shri Ramesh C. Misra, AS&FA, DIT

  • Dr. B. K. Gairola, DG (NIC)
  • Dr. Gulshan Rai, DG (STQC)
  • Dr. Shankar Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, DIT
  • Shri S. K. Chakrabarti, DDG (MMC) O/o RGI
  • Smt. Lekha Kumar, Director (e-Gov), DAR&PG

  • Shri M.R. Rajagopalan, Director CDAC
  • Shri M.D. Kulkarni, Programme Coordinator CDAC
  • Shri Narendra Singh, Head (LITD) BIS
  • Smt. Reena Garg, Jt. Director (LITD) BIS
  • Dr. RJ.R. Kasibhatta, Legal Adviser, Department of Legal Affairs
  • Shri M.M. Chanda, Joint Adviser (C&I) Planning Commission

  • Shri P.S. Dhekne, Raja Ramanna Fellow BARC
  • Shri Rajeev Sangal, IIIT, Hyderabad
  • Shri Rajdeep Sahrawat, VP NASSCOM
  • Shri Vinnie Mehta, ED MAIT
  • Shri Pankaj Sharma, NASSCOM
  • Shri Swaran Lata, Director, DIT
  • Shri J.K. Tyagi, Director, DIT
  • Shri U.K. Nandwani, Scientist ‘F’ STQC DIT
  • Smt. Aruna Chaba, STD, NIC
  • Dr. P. Balasubramaniam, Director NIC
  • Shri Kewal Krishnan, TD and Member Secretary Localization NIC
  • Smt. Meenakshi Mahajan, TD NIC
  • Smt. Suchitra Pyarelal, TD NIC
  • Mrs. Sidhi Sehgal, NIC
  • Shri Gangadhar N. Datanal, Sr. Programmer, Govt. of Karnataka
  • Smt. Renu Budhiraja, Director, DIT
  • Smt. Kavita Bhatia, Scientist ‘D’, DIT
    • The agenda of the meeting was to seek recommendations/suggestions from the Apex Body members on the:
    · Approval on Draft Localization Standards o Character Encoding Standards o Font Standards · Approval on the Metadata and Data Standards o Person Identification o Land Codification o Common Generic data Elements · Draft National Policy on Open Standards Secretary DIT welcomed all the Apex Body members for the meeting and said that the Integration of projects developed by multiple agencies is the need of the hour and Standards play a major role in enabling collaborative and open environment for developing interoperable eGovernance projects. The meeting started with a presentation by Director (RB) on the Institutional Mechanism set up by Government of India for standardization including other areas of activities under the standardization. This was followed by the brief on the Standards currently put up to the Apex Body for the approval and the draft National Policy The highlights of these deliberations were:
  • Secretary (DIT) suggested the following approach that could be adopted while presenting the draft Standard for approval to e Apex Body :
  • A brief description of the Standard presented b. Sequence of review stages on the Standard feedback there of w.r.t the deviations/differences could be indicated in the Apex Body. c. Based on the suggestions of Apex Body, the respective committee would modify the Standards and DIT would proceed further for their release through STQC
  • Localization Standards: Character Encoding Standard – The recommendation of the Expert Committee chaired by Prof. Rajeev Sangal, Head, IIIT, Hyderabad for the Character Encoding Standard was:

Specification Area

Standard Name


Nature of the Standard

Nature of Recommendations

Indian Liaison

Character Encoding for Indian Languages

Unicode 5.1.0 and its future up gradation as reported by Unicode consortium from time to time.

Unicode Consortium, Inc.



TDIL Programme HCC Division, MC&IT, Dept. of IT New Delhi 110001

  • HoD (TDIL) mentioned to the Apex Body that although Unicode is the global character encoding standard of 16 bit and is widely recognized all over the world, it supports Indian languages and will ease Localization of applications for all the constitutionally recognized Indian languages. Unicode 5.1.0 supports all the Indian languages except some variants of Kashmiri, which has been already taken up with Unicode consortium.

    Decision: The Apex Body approved the Unicode 5.1.0 as a standard for e-Governance Applications for all 22 Indian Languages except for the Kashmiri. Once the Kashmiri variants are accepted at Unicode consortium, the next Unicode version released by the consortium would be notified by the Apex Body.

  • Localization Standard: Font Standard – The recommendation of the Expert Committee for the Font Standard was Open Type Fonts which are based on a single International Standard and comply with UNICODE for data storage. This font will ensure data portability across various applications and platforms. HoD (TDIL) mentioned to the Apex Body that TDIL and CDAC jointly have implemented a reference Open Type Font called “Sakal Bharti” for the 22 constitutionally recognized Indian Languages. DG (NIC) mentioned although eGovernance applications are free to use any OTF, it is advantageous to promote an OTF compliant FONT like Sakal Bharati, as it would ensure uniformity of font size for all Indian Languages. Hence, the Apex Body felt that this reference implementation needs to be validated against the OTF Compliance and the Principles of Open Standards laid in the Policy. Once certified, it could be recommended for the eGovernance Applications. Mr. Vinnie Mehta, MAIT raised an issue of Copy right as Sakal Bharti has been developed by CDAC. To this HoD (TDIL), mentioned that as it is jointly developed by TDIL and CDAC and a conscious decision has been taken to proliferate it free. Also CDAC is mandated to provide support and maintain it and as well as upgrade from time to time. Also, HoD (TDIL) mentioned that TDIL group is only supporting the Sakal Bharti Font and not the Open Type Font standard as mentioned in the standard document. Hence, it was agreed that in place of “Support Contact” it would be changed to as below: Indian Liaison TDIL Programme HCC Division, MC&IT, Dept. of IT, New Delhi 110001 Decision: The Apex Body approved the Open Type Font as a Mandatory standard for e-Governance Applications for all 22 Indian Languages. Also the Apex Body recommended “Sakal Bharti” for the eGovernance Applications after it is certified.

  • Metadata & Data Standards – Dir (RB) gave a brief overview to the Apex Body on the 33 Generic Data Elements put up for the approval. The elements can be sub-classified into:

  • Common Generic data elements – 8 elements b. Generic data elements for Person ID – 17 elements c. Generic data elements for Land Region Codification – 8 elements HoD (TDIL) had an observation on “Language Code” a common generic data element. She said that the current standard for the Language code is not based on International Standard. Language code storage could be modified as per International standard i.e. ISO-639-2 std. But after the detail deliberation of the Apex Body, DG (NIC) suggested that it is generally a good practice to follow International practices but as these are the Data standards and hence every country has a specific requirement and at times customization of International standards are required to be done for the specific need of our country. Secretary DIT mentioned that the Expert Committee should again re-look at the data standards and at least ensure that they are mapable to the International standards. Secretary DIT constituted a small group under AS (eGov) with various stakeholders as members to look into the issues pertaining to language.

    Decision: The Apex Body accepted the Data Standards proposed by the Expert committee and also suggested Expert committee to ensure that they are mapped to International standard. With regard to the ownership of the code directories, it was suggested that the code directories would be maintained by the owners on the basis of notification by the competent authorities. 5. Draft National Policy on Open Standards – Dir (RB) briefly mentioned about the events subsequent to the 1st Apex Body meeting. The presentation covered the changed made in the Draft Policy based on the Industry feedback. The following was presented clearly bringing out the industry concerns on Royalty free/RAND, Single versus multiple standards and Standard selection criteria and some of which have been resolved in the current Policy:

Industry concerns

Draft Policy highlights

Single versus Multiple

• Current Draft Policy allow for multiple standards within the application and is enforcing a single standard only at the interface • New section on - Exceptions for Selecting One or More Additional Open Standard in a specific domain added

Royalty Free / RAND Standard

The Draft Policy mandates Royalty free in the Mandatory characteristics but now has incorporated new section on Non-availability of Open Standard which meets all Mandatory Characteristics

Standard Selection criteria

Market maturity is currently not being considered in the Draft Policy

  • MAIT & NASSCOM appreciated that the Policy has come a long way from what it was submitted earlier. Mr. Vinnie Mehta of MAIT mentioned to the Apex Body they would get back to Industry as this e revised draft Policy has not been shared with the Industry. They would like feedback from the Industry on the Applicability of the Policy at the interface including other Principles. Also he suggested that maturity is an important part for of selection of a Standard; however Government should look into the emerging and innovative standards at the pilot level for adoption later. With regard to Royalty Free/ RAND, government should recognize the time and cost put for the innovation and incentivize the industry. Mr. Rajdeep of NASSCOM re-iterated that government should allow multiple standards at any instance. To this Secretary DIT mentioned that complete interoperability could possibly be achieved through single standard. However, possibility of ensuring the same through multiple standards can also be considered in consultation with Industry. Decision: Secretary DIT and DG (NIC) suggested that NASSCOM and MAIT should have an industry consultation on the revised draft Policy and come out with a collective view ensuring that the objectives of open standards are fully met and achievable. Both the members i.e. NASSCOM & MAIT have agreed to do so and suggested to come back to DIT with the industry view by 7-8th July’09. Also, Secretary DIT suggested that once the industry feedback is received through NASSCOM & MAIT, DIT could be convene next Apex Body meeting around 15th July’09 to take the Policy further. Action Points:


  • o To validate “Sakal Bharti” against the principles of Open Standards & OTF Compliant and once certified it could be recommended for the eGovernance Applications. o To make available the Sakal Bharti Font downloadable from http://egovstanadrds.gov.in website

Expert Committee on MDDS

  • o To indicate the reference international standards for the data elements in the Standard document and ensure that the data elements are mappable to International standard.


  • o Changes in the Font Standard document

    o To revise the “Support Contact” to “Indian Liaison”. o To mention “Sakal Bharti” as reference implementation in the Font Standard document including the path for download. o Changes in the MDDS Standard document o To revise the “ownership of code directories” to “the ownership of the code directories would be maintained by the owners on the basis of notification by the competent authorities”. o Changes in the revised Draft Policy on Open Standard o To revise the point no. 5.1.8 of the mandatory characteristics to “Identified Standard should be capable of supporting all Indian official Languages” o To revise the point no. 6.3 of Non availability of Standards which meets functional requirements “Specifications as per proven open source” to “Specifications as per proven reference open source implementation” o To send the revised Draft Policy to NASSCOM & MAIT by 19th June’09. o To convene next Apex Body meeting around 15th July’09 to take the Policy further.


  • o To come back to DIT with the industry view on the revised draft Policy by 7-8th July’09

The meeting ended with vote of thanks to the chair