In a historic decision, the Indian Government has adopted open source for its public offices. With acclaimed Indian organizations like C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) and IIT Chennai working on Debian based distro BOSS Linux and states like Tamil Nadu already advocating open source for a while, this was inevitable. The policy has been published by the Ministry of Communication & Information Technology today.
With this announcement, the Indian Govt. is following the steps of nations like Germany and UK. The financial benefit of using open source is the primary reason behind the drive. “Organizations worldwide have adopted innovative alternative solutions in order to optimise costs by exploring avenues of “Open Source Software”. GoI has also been promoting the use of open source technologies in the e-Governance domain within the country in order to leverage economic and strategic benefits.” – the charter reads.
“Adopt open standards and promote open source and open technologies”, it boldly states.
The nature of compliance has been set to “mandatory” indicating the Govt. is serious on implementing the policy. All public facing offices would be required to follow the same.
This is definitely a blow to Microsoft who happens to be one of the major proprietary office suite vendors. In 2014, China banned Windows 10 from its Govt. offices. With the open source policy in place, the Indian Govt. is expected to move away from the office suite as well as Microsoft’s operating systems including the latest Windows 10. Microsoft products dominate the Govt. offices at the moment.
The decision will also affect the 1.3 billion population of India in the long run. In general, use of pirated software is predominant in the country. With open source and free alternatives getting the much-contemplated green signal from the Govt., it would be interesting to see which operating systems and software replace regular proprietary software for the masses.