DeitY is promoting the use of open source software in all important e-governance projects. This will aid the implementation of the Indian government’s Digital India programme, which aims to make government services accessible online to citizens in their l
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Make in India’ campaign in September last year with the aim to make it easier to manufacture in the country. Now, the government has announced that it will use open source software for all important and long term e-governance projects. However, it has not ruled out the use of proprietary software to meet specialised requirements.
Open source software is that which can be modified because its design is publicly accessible and it is open for the general public to use.
The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) has made it mandatory for the government to use open source software for all its services, in order to make them more efficient, transparent, reliable and affordable. ‘‘The government of India shall endeavour to adopt open source software in all e-governance systems implemented by various government organisations, as a preferred option in comparison to closed source software,” said the policy statement, put up on the website of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology.
DeitY promotes e-governance and empowers citizens. It has been established for the sustainable growth of the electronics, IT and ITeS industries. To enhance e-governance, DeitY focuses on the development of human resources, promoting R&D and innovation, enhancing efficiency through digital services and ensuring a secure cyber space.
With the adoption of open source by the Indian government, all the work related to e-governance applications and systems will get a framework for rapid and effective results. This will ensure long term productivity and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of these projects. Governments in the US, UK and Germany are already using open source software extensively.
The new policy includes a specific requirement in the Request for Proposal (RFP) for suppliers, who need to consider open source software as a favourable option in comparison with closed source software (CSS). In CSS, the source code is not open to the public. CSS code is the property of its original authors, who are the only ones legally allowed to copy or modify it. While implementing e-governance applications and systems, suppliers are required to provide justification for excluding OSS.
The Indian government will also publish a policy framework for rapid and effective adoption of OSS. This will cover prioritisation of the application areas, and frame a list of OSS and OSS stacks required for various functions. With an increased focus on the Digital India programme, the government wants to make services accessible online to citizens in their localities. The need to expand these services quickly at a low cost has led to the decision in favour of open source in the country.
The National Information Technology Policy in 2012 had mentioned the promotion of open source and open technologies as one of its objectives. Carrying forward the goals outlined in this policy, the government will now be promoting open source and open technologies in the country in a more focused manner.
This policy is not new to many states like Kerala, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, which have already supported and promoted the use of open source in e-governance projects in various ways. Now, it’s time to see how DeitY will ensure the acceptance of the policy and promote open source software in other parts of the country.