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Open source leads the way for e-governance in India

31 March, 2015 7:36 AM
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Embarking on its mission to galvanize the digital ecosystem in the country, the Indian government has made the strategic move to show its support for open source software (OSS).

Primarily seen as means to promote the Digital India movement, the federal government (govt) has highlighted set of guidelines issued by Electronics and communication ministry. Going by the policy amended earlier this month OSS comes to forefront of any e-governance project undertaken by varied state ministries, also upgrade the existing systems to the prescribed mandate.

This open affirmation for OSS basically discards the prospect of software biggies like Microsoft growing in the country's federal/enterprise set up. Any usage of close proprietary software demands a genuine explanation which should get duly justified at all cost, as per statement quoted in the issued policy.

This marks a drastic turnaround in the mindset of governance players in the country, wherein OSS was considered unsafe and unknown entity that could pose national security concerns, harboring the prospect of serious repercussions on India.

The insistence on use of OSS is also being sighted with the govt's plan to take digitization to all nook-and-corners of the country and with OSS the cost of undertaking mass project as this becomes highly cost-effective. Proprietary software's prove to be costly affair which is why the scale of piracy in India is apparent and by adopting OSS, the respective ministry is looking to thwart the danger of getting caught in wrong waters.

Even then this air tight amendment has been bestowed with exceptions that permits use of software that remain closed. So, if the particular domain doesn't lineup with availability of the OSS then use of other options are granted. Also, in events of strategic emergency, wherein getting the work done remains the top priority will be exempted from the obligation of using open source software.

The OSS announcement comes amidst recent statement from telecom regulating body in India over the need to regulate over the top (OTT) services like WhatsApp, Viber and dispense them from operator's duty with more chargeable actions.

It will be interesting to see how the OSS pans out for a government which is yet to fully warm up to prospect of not having Windows-supported products in their day-to-day processes.


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