Local Language Efforts” by the various government agencies

The government has recently shown a lot of interest about Free/Open Software, especially in the area of localization for Indian/Indic languages. However, this well meaning interest has resulted in some totally clueless individuals and agencies being delegated to work on these issues, resulting in a major mess. The prime example of this would be BOSS Linux, which has not bothered to work with the community in any way (at least for the translations), and a result, it looks like a large amount of work (paid for from the tax payer’s money) is going to be wasted. Gora has started a thread on the gnome-i18n mailing list on this, and we can see no easy way to reutilize the work done. Interestingly, as per the comments in Sankarshan-da’s blog post on this matter, the government agency responsible for this had actually contacted some people in the community (via a 3rd party), offering to pay around USD 0.07 per string translated. The condition was that the work needed to be secret and exclusive for BOSS. That’s interesting for an “Open Source” project, funded by the government.

Closer home, there’s this “Baishakhi Linux” distribution, which makes quite dubious claims such as “All Bangla compound words can be viewed and written in Baishakhi Linux, and this special feature distinguishes it from the other localized Linux distributions.”. After making this statement, they go on to show a list of “compound words” (conjuncts, or yuktakshars), of which, I believe only _one_ is not writeable in stock OpenOffice.org/GNOME, and the fix for that is a one liner (bug, with patch).
I downloaded the ISO image from their website (I didn’t see any link to any source code), and started it up in a VM. It looks like they took the existing upstream translations, made minor modifications to them (which includes adding the English msgid in parenthesis at the end of each msgstr). They took care, however, to replace each translator_credit translation with their own name. I ran msgunfmt on the Evolution mo file, and though the translator_credit had been changed, the header read:

Last-Translator: Promathesh Mandal \<promatesh@mat3impex.com>n”
“Language-Team: Bengali \<gnome-translation@bengalinux.org>n”

In case you are wondering, gnome-translation@bengalinux.org is the email address of the upstream GNOME translation community for Bengali.
This kind of approach makes me pretty pissed off. In the past, we have included all the names possible in the translator_credit translation, IMHO that is the least the Baishakhi Linux people could have done.

It’s a sad state of affairs - it really is.