For E-governance, Open Source Software Is Password

Thiruvananthapuram: | Updated: Nov 4 2003, 05:30am hrs
Is Indias e-governance machinery gathering troops for the open source software war Even as Gartner researchers predict Microsoft succumbing to open source software soon, the department of administrative reforms and public grievances (DARPG) is in the midst of a countrywide open source campaign.

Government officials at a DARPG seminar, here, voted for Richard Stallman, along with a fair amount of Bill Gates-bashing, when department of IT senior advisor Vinay Dharmaadhikari spelt out the future of open source applications in e-governance.

Mr B Eqbal, vice-chancellor, University of Kerala, spoke of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates recent meeting with the Indian President. Dr Abdul Kalam had told him that India was for open source software, Dr Eqbal, who was present at the meeting, recalled.

Not to be beaten, Kerala IT minister and IUML state secretary P K Kunjhalikutty added his bit to the open source software campaign, dwelling on his meeting with Richard Stallman two years ago.

Conceptually, e-governance is supposed to be the arch enemy of bureaucratic red tapism, the life-line of babudom. Yet, according to Mr Santosh Babu, (additional labour commissioner, Tamil Nadu government) even bureaucrats are enthused by open source software driven e-governance, which ensures better citizen services at low cost.

The DARPG seminar was organised as a run-up to the 7th national conference on e-governance in Chennai from November 13-15.

As the Microsoft-Open source software rivalry polarises even the staid mandarins, one may recall Gartner research director Steve Bittingers forecast that the software giant will soon be forced to embrace open source software, the same way it was forced to embrace Internet.

Dr Bittinger, as quoted by ZD Net, says that vendor reactions to open source software have made it a disruptive innovation for Microsoft. When Linux TLE started gaining popularity through Thailands Peoples PC project, Microsoft had slashed prices for Windows XP and Offices, to take part in the project. The world will get to hear more on the Bittinger analysis after the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2003 in Sydney later this month.