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Innovative, despite odds

Viswanathan, who suffers from a rare disease, has developed a user-friendly English-to-Tamil transliteration software


VISWANATHAN IS a one-man software team. He has developed Azhagi, an English-to-Tamil transliteration software that will be useful for Tamils the world over. Viswanathan, however, insists that his best is yet to come. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. This 35-year-old suffers from a debilitating illness, colitis, which affects one in a million. Colitis is the inflammation of the lining of the colon, which constitutes the major portion of the large intestine.

Viswanathan can lead a normal life between bouts of illness. Approximately, four months separate two attacks. There is no telling when a sufferer will get an attack. He often becomes skin and bone overnight. Viswanathan loses about 10 kg during an attack. What is worse, the pain is excruciating. As there is no cure for this disease, he has learnt to live with it.

A software professional with the Tata Consultancy Services, Viswanthan turned in his papers in 1997 because his illness interfered with his work. In 1999, he hit upon the idea of developing a transliteration software while he was scouring the Net for a Tamil-font freebie. Though the free software served the purpose, it had a lot of rough edges. Most importantly, it was not user-friendly. It was then that Viswanathan resolved to develop a user-friendly English-to-Tamil transliteration software.

In 2000, he successfully put the project to bed. Azhagi was born. Why did he name the software Azhagi? "Because it symbolises my wife's `beautiful' heart," comes the reply.

PRINCE FREDERICK

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