NIC Sets Up Linux Group For E-governance

Kolkata: | Updated: Oct 21 2002, 05:30am hrs
National Informatics Centre (NIC) has formed a specialised Linux group to develop cost-effective e-governance applications. Apart from Microsofts proprietary software solutions, NIC has created a roadmap to develop applications on Linux, an open source code operating system (OS).

NIC, an organisation under the department of information technology (DIT), dedicated to design and develop IT solutions for decision support functions for the states and central government departments, has decided to have Linux specialists across all the state NIC offices.

According to NIC director general N Vijyaditya, the task of the Linux specialists will be to develop best practices, create awareness and develop applications in some key areas where Linux will be cost-effective vis-a-vis other operating systems.

Said Mr Vijyaditya, NIC is one of the oldest users of Unix. Recently, we have seen IT users are showing interest in Linux-based solutions, we have decided to look at Linux in the Unix segment. Along with Windows-based expertise, we will also develop Linux expertise to serve the needs of the government departments.

IT consultants feel NICs move is an indication that various organisations of the cash-strapped government are looking for solutions which have features and are also cost-effective.

Given the availability of quality software developers in the country, there are opportunities to develop applications according to the local needs on Linux.

Said Etalk Solutions Pvt Ltd director Subhojit Goswami, We have seen how other countries like China have used Linux for their e-governance applications. IT majors like Oracle and Microsoft have good tools for e-governance but these tools are very expensive.

As most of the states are at the brink of bankruptcy, factors like upfront cost and cost of ownership will be crucial for successful implementation of IT in government functions. Here Linux can be an alternative, Mr Goswami said. Etalk is a Kolkata-based project consultant company.

While some NIC officials believe there are advantages to use open source code-based operating system in certain e-governance applications like land records, panchayats and school education, the issue is support and upgradation.

Said Mr Vijyaditya, Since applications will have no ownership, we have to ensure support and development. For this we need trained people who will be conversant with the open source code development. As an organisation we are open to all kinds of technology which provide us with features, security and cost effectiveness and with after sales support.

Several government projects have already started working with Linux.

According to NIC senior technical director Subir Roy, the smart card in the transport segment a project to be implemented by the department of surface transport will have Linux OS with DB2 as database software.

Said Mr Roy, If we want to take IT to the rural people, in panchayats and schools, Linux is an alternative. I dont think government has the resource to spend on expensive software. We are already porting applications on Linux and there has been interest in some government circles over this alternative.