05.29.15

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Microsoft Lobbying in India Shoots Down or At Least Weakens Free/Libre Software Policy

Posted in Asia, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 7:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bill Gates and Nasscom
Photo from NASSCOM’s Web site

Summary: Microsoft’s covert efforts (lobbying with the help of public partners like NASSCOM) to eliminate an India-leaning software policy in India is finally paying off

After Microsoft lobbying (both directly and by proxy) against Indian sovereignty we seem to have ended up with a watered-down Indian policy, which briefly favoured Free/Open Source software (FOSS). This happened in many nations before (especially in Asia) and given Microsoft’s influence in the Indian government we pretty much expected this to happen once again. Let’s not forget that Microsoft is blackmailing British politicians (as it always did). If Microsoft can do this to the empire which ruled India, why not India too?

“It’s not just Microsoft doing it because one must recall OOXML pressure in India (usually done by proxy, as in this case, via NASSCOM).”The latest article from the corporate media in India (Business Standard in this case) makes it very clear that Microsoft leads in lobbying against the policy which favours Free software. “Government says open source software use not made mandatory” is the headline and Microsoft is all over it:

Business Standard had reported earlier this month that software firms such as Microsoft had expressed concerns over the policy, unveiled in March, as it had a clause that stated use of anything other than open source software had to be justified by the official concerned.

Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman of Microsoft India, had said, “The government needs to be technology-neutral. You should be able to adopt the best technology, the most economical and the most appropriate technology for the problem at hand. Let’s not have biases one way or the other.” Because of this policy, he added, a company might end up choosing a technology solution that’s not the best and this might take the “country back”.

The corporate media is doing it again, relaying Microsoft talking points and using straw man arguments. Microsoft needs to maintain the illusion that it is not fighting FOSS while it actually does fight it. Here’s why we need to watch out. As Sir Humphrey Appleby famously said in Yes Minister: “It is necessary to get behind someone in order to stab them in the back.”

Indian politicians now come out with statements about the FOSS policy which suggest they either got intimidated or bribed by Microsoft et al. It’s not just Microsoft doing it because one must recall OOXML pressure in India (usually done by proxy, as in this case, via NASSCOM). To remind readers what NASSCOM has been doing:

Microsoft “loves Linux” and supports FOSS like BP loves nature and supports wind power.

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