The Fox of Innovations
The Indian government promotes open source software – why?
Most people think it's money, but it's not. I know this because I sit on several of the government committees. The rationale is that they are trying to make sure that people are actually exposed to real technology and understand the technology. What's happening with proprietary software is that you're so abstracted from the actual technology, you are only dealing with very high-level APIs and don't know what's happening at the lower level, so that your understanding of the technology with which you're working is pretty low.
The government finds that people who work with proprietary software tend to know a little less about the software than people who work with free and open source software and are exposed to everything from ground-level upwards. If someone is really interested in knowing how something works, he has every option to find out how it works.
So one could call it an educational programme?
In a manner of speaking. I would call it a survival system [laughs], but opinions differ.
Can you name particular initiatives?
At the central government, we have several committees which are pushing free and open source software in various levels within the government and within the country. The government itself is pretty predisposed towards open source software. But by the request of the community, we have asked them not to favour the open source community, just to provide a levelled playing field, and this they have been doing very heavily.
Then there are educational efforts, again from the central government, where they aid and setup projects which help develop free and open source software in India.
Finally, there are state level initiatives. For example, the state of Kerala has announced recently that it has removed all proprietary software from the educational system, and they will be using only free and open source software. There are several initiatives of this sort.
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