06.27.11

Government of India Increasingly Groks GNU/Linux

Posted in Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Patents at 8:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Emblem of India

Summary: GNU/Linux-friendly policies from the Indian government and some encouraging news from Kerala, as well as the Indian education sector which increasingly adopts Free software

T

ECHRIGHTS is proud to have friends in India*, who continue to teach the West all about the importance of freedom which India not always had. On a separate note, my colleagues from India sure show the way forward in technology, by increasingly adopting knowledge from other countries, refining it, and putting it out there for others to build upon. The country recognises the fact that for excellence in the sciences, knowledge must be shared, not monopolised, and as pointed out by Mark (in IRC) last week, the West’s attempts to put lot of patents inside India — as we covered repeatedly some years ago — is a miserable last effort to keep a foothold despite all the debt (historically, the West used debt to enslave other countries, only to more recently become a principal borrower from countries like China).

“When it comes to Free software adoption, India is doing pretty well.”A long time ago we leaked a document that showed how Europe wanted to harm India, using a treaty involving intellectual monopolies. It is clearly in the interests of large European businesses (not the same as European people). This is not acceptable from the point of view of Indians, who are merely pawns in this battle. If their politicians abandon their voters and choose the path of greed instead, then atrocious treaties like this one too can be signed, acting as a waiver against Indian leadership.

When it comes to Free software adoption, India is doing pretty well. Quite often we include links in this site about GNU/Linux preinstalls in India, even the increased usage there (a new low-cost tablet is coming from India fairly soon, and it only runs Linux). Despite the fact that Microsoft turns a blind eye to counterfeiting in place like India (Microsoft prefers counterfeiting to GNU/Linux), at the government level we have been seeing a lot of support (at least on paper) for Free software, open standards like ODF, and occasionally hostility towards RAND (uniform fee on vital ideas/access) and software patents. On a relative scale, India may not have so much influence on world powers, but it sure nudges other countries in the right direction. Maybe more leaders will become humble through realisation of the impact on their neighbours in the East (there is already a moral awakening to the mistreatment of labour force in China, for example).

To illustrate just how much ahead India has come policy-wise, consider this reference.document available at eGov Standards (a government site) [PDF]. It s a “FOSS friendly one,” argued the person who sent the pointer and indeed, based on a cursory look, this draft is full of references to GNU/Linux and Open Source.

According to this article which we found this morning (“Free or open source for students?”), Kerala has completed a moved to GNU/Linux in education, The wording seems to suggest a complete abandonment of Microsoft Windows. Surely it may take another generation or two for this fundamental change to have a major effect, but it’s a big step in the right direction.

Recent discussions on which software package to be incorporated in the free laptops to be distributed to students this year in Tamil Nadu have highlighted the attempts across the country to promote the use of Free and Open Source Software in education and other fields.

That’s the opening of the article. Kerala is somewhat of a leader in this regard, but it is not alone really. In fact, the hope is that the policy set in Kerala will spread to more regions, even outside of India. Many eyes will be put on Kerala which serves as a bit of a case study when it comes to going into Free software at schools. Microsoft did try to intervene against this [1, 2, 3], but evidently Microsoft failed.
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* In 2008, for instance, our Indian followers organised a Boycott Novell protest, amongst others.

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2 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    June 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Gravatar

    Congratulations to Kerala.

    I’m curious about what effects might take time. The effects of software freedom are immediate and last as long as people keep it. They can now publish information without having to worry about kill switches and other censorship mechanisms in Windows. They can be sure of their privacy and make plans without alerting Microsoft. They no longer have to pay fees for the disservices of non free software and can spend the money on schools, roads and other things that people actually need. The benefits of software freedom, as Richard Stallman pointed out recently, are kind of like the benefits of not having to wear handcuffs. An infinitely long and amusing list of advantages to not wearing handcuffs can be made, such as being able to wear normal shirts, but the real question people should as is, “why am I giving this power to non free software owners in the first place?”

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The ramifications of censorship are particularly important in the context of education. To accept proprietary software is, by default, to accept censorship of code.

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