Will Indian Political Parties Embrace Open Source?

One of the political parties, BJP, has taken the another step towards bringing open source in the national policies. Now, will it trigger the war of other political parties joining the bandwagon?

Monday, March 16, 2009: The second largest political party in India has released its IT Vision statement, thus making clear that IT is going to get more importance in government related activities. This resonates the announcement by Barak Obama, the US president, to appoint the country’s first CTO.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has laid out a grand vision for transforming India and empowering Bharat using the power of information technology (IT). Unveiling the BJP’s IT Vision document, the National Democratic Alliance’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani said, “A future NDA Government, if elected to office in the coming parliamentary elections, would give high priority to the realisation of this vision, which would help India overcome the current economic crisis; create productive employment opportunities on a large scale; accelerate human development through vastly improved and expanded education and healthcare services; check corruption; and make India’s national security more robust.”

Rajnath Singh, party president, and Arun Shourie, BJP MP and former minister of communications and information technology in the Vajpayee government , were also present.

There are clear indications of bringing open source or Free Software philosophies to the mainstream policy making (read point 22).

The highlights of the 30-page IT Vision document are:

1. Multipurpose National Identity Card (MNIC) with unique Citizen Identification Number (CIN) for every Indian citizen in 3 years; to replace all other identification systems.
2. 1.2 crore (12 million) new IT-enabled jobs in rural areas.
3. 1 crore (10 million) students to get laptop computers at Rs 10,000. Interest-free loan for anyone unable to afford it.
4. National Digital Highway Development Project to create India’s Internet backbone, and Pradhan Mantri Digital Gram Sadak Yojana for last-mile access even in the remotest of villages.
5. Broadband Internet (2 Mbps) in every town and village, at cable TV prices (less than Rs 200/month).
6. All schools and colleges to have Internet-enabled education.
7. 100 per cent financial inclusion through bank accounts, with e-Banking facilities, for all Indian citizens. Direct transfer of welfare funds, preferably to the woman of the house.
8. Every BPL family to be given a free smart mobile phone, which can be used by even illiterate users for accessing their bank accounts.
9. Number of mobile subscribers to be increased from 40 crore at present to 100 crore in five years. Internet users to equal mobile subscribers. India to equal China in every IT parameter in five years.
10. Video conferencing to be made affordable and universally accessible.
11. Primary Health Centre in every village to be linked to the National Telemedicine Service Network. Basic health insurance scheme for every citizen, using the IT platform. Cashless hospitalisation.
12. India’s ranking in the United Nations’ Human Development Index, which is currently 128, to be improved to 50 in five years, with the long-term objective of bringing India within Top Twenty by 2020.
13. Massive expansion in the use of IT in agriculture, rural development, SMEs, retail trade, and informal and unorganised sectors of the economy.
14. National e-Governance Plan to cover every Government office from the Centre to the Panchayats. The ‘E Gram Vishwa Gram’ scheme, launched by Shri Narendra Modi in Gujarat, to be implemented nationwide.
15. Government spending to be made corruption-free. A former Prime Minister had once said, “If I put Rs. 100 in the pipeline in Delhi, only Rs. 15 reach the end beneficiary.” In contrast to Congress governments’ Leaky Pipeline, the BJP’s IT Pipeline will ensure 100 per cent benefit to people. Those who misappropriate public funds will be punished.
16. All post offices to be converted into IT-enabled Multi-Service Outlets. All telephone booths to be upgraded to Internet kiosks.
17. Citizens will have a simple 1-800 BSNL Toll Free Number, which will be accessible 24x7x 365 days of the year, to contact their Member of Parliament.
18. Unlimited VoIP access to all.
19. e-Bhasha: National Mission for Promotion of IT in Indian Languages.
20. Special focus to bring women, SC/STs, OBCs and other weaker sections of society within the ambit of IT-enabled development.
21. Use of IT for the protection of India’s priceless cultural and artistic heritage.
22. Government to standardise on ‘open standard’ and ‘open source’ software.
23. Domestic IT hardware industry to be aggressively promoted to minimise dependence on imports.
24. Domestic hosting industry to be promoted to minimise international bandwith charges.
25. An independent body, Digital Security Agency (DSA), to be set up for cyber warfare, cyber counter-terrorism, and cyber security of national digital assets.

Welcoming the vision statement, Venkatesh Hariharan, co-founder, Open Source Foundation of India, said, “The Open Source Foundation of India welcomes the IT Vision document released by the BJP. This vision document endorses open source and open standards.”

He further added, “The CPI(M), another national party in India has always been a strong supporter of our stand on open source, open standards and our fight against software patents. With the country scheduled to go to polls next month, we now have a broad consensus emerging around the use of open source and open standards. This is great news for all of us who
believe in free and open source software! We are hopeful that other political parties will also take cognizance of the FOSS Manifesto and incorporate the same into their IT plans for India.”


One comment

  1. RaiulBaztepo · · Reply

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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