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Indian Government Moves to Let Linux In 330

Webi writes "The government of India has started taking precise, wide-reaching steps to usher in a Linux wave in India." India sure seems to be a highly contested arena lately. Interestingly, India's plan calls for government-sponsored support and call centers. Looks like they've really thought this through.
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Indian Government Moves to Let Linux In

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  • text of the article (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2002 @08:43PM (#4963501)
    Govt move on to let in Linux


    NEW DELHI: The government of India has started taking precise, wide-reaching steps to usher in a Linux wave in India.

    And that cannot be good news for proprietary software vendors like Microsoft. Yesterday, the IT ministry had a meeting of around 70 people, from companies like HP, IBM, Sun and TCS, government agencies like BARC and CDAC, state governments like Kerala, West Bengal and MP to evolve a level playing field for Linux vis-a-vis proprietary software (read Microsoft).

    All the IITs too were represented at the meeting that went on for 4 hours.

    There was consensus in the meeting that Linux was a secure, robust and cost-effective system.

    As far as concrete pro-Linux acts go, government tenders may soon stop specifying Microsoft or any other vendor's name while floating software tenders, thus throwing open the way for Linux vendors to grab lucrative government contracts hitherto barred from them.

    The government is also setting up special interest groups with officials of industry and academia to find out how Linux can be deployed in e-governance, defence, education and so on.

    Since support to Linux is till a big issue, the government is also thinking in terms of setting up support and resource services, and call centres for Linux users. It is also looking at setting up pilot sites, where Linux applications can be "touched and felt". A heartening fact for Linux-philes would be the enthusiasm for Linux shown by extremely security-sensitive agencies like Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the National Information Centre (NIC).

    Another aspect that came out in the meeting was the work on Indianisation of Linux that's happening now.

    C-DAC's agency NCST and Red Hat have, for instance, developed a Hindi version of Linux, called Indix. IIT Mumbai too is doing pioneering research in Linux.

    Yesterday's meeting of industry, academia and government representatives was chaired by IT secretary R R Shah. According to industry sources, companies like Sun and TCS were all enthusiasm for Linux, with the TCS representative claiming that the company was implementing the country's largest Linux project in Chennai. The government, however, was at pains to bring out the fact that it was not against Microsoft or proprietary software and was only looking to leverage the strengths of open source software.

    However, one official present at the meeting wisecracked, "Microsoft would have had a heart attack if it was present at the meeting. The interest in Linux at this meeting was palpable."

    One influential official told ET that many people were "violently against" computer textbooks in schools and colleges teaching Microsoft Word or Excel, instead of generic applications or technologies, like word processors. Industry sources also said that on the sidelines of the meeting, there were two views among those present about Microsoft's reported move of sharing source code with the government. While some thought it was just "posturing" by MS, others felt that it was a "genuine" attempt by the Redmond giant to reach out.

    However, sources said that it was the representative from Madhya Pradesh, who made a forceful case for Linux. He said that since MP had a paucity of resources, Linux seemed the best solution for the state. He, however, said that there was need to train people in Linux technologies. A member of the Linux user group sprang up to say that the MP government can take help of the extremely active Linux User group in Indore.
  • by ceejayoz ( 567949 ) <> on Thursday December 26, 2002 @09:03PM (#4963617) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, except for the fact that the world's biggest business is Wal-Mart, and MS doesn't even rank on the top ten [].
  • Ah, yes (Score:1, Informative)

    by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Thursday December 26, 2002 @09:26PM (#4963736) Journal
    Your rant sounds much like the idiotic xenophobia and hyper-nationalism present in Germany that let Hitler come to power.

    No one, including the United States, can just close their doors and shut out the outside world. And the outside world is willing to work without also requiring wages that purchase an HDTV, SUV, high-end computer, and two-story house.

    US developers still have benefits over Indian ones. They're closer, easier to communicate with.

    So you just have to leverage that.

    Which means maybe eating plainer foods, not eating out at restauraunts, driving a used car, not upgrading your home theater and computer yearly, not going on cruises, and not goofing off at work. Not buying pills for minor things like depression. Not owning a second car. Becaue the competition is willing to do this and more. So you can evolve...or die.
  • Porting (Score:3, Informative)

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Thursday December 26, 2002 @09:46PM (#4963805) Homepage you really think that Office, Explorer, Visual Studio, Visual Basic, ect ect ect HASN'T been ported to Lunix?

    Yes. The windows API hasn't been ported to Linux, GDI hasn't been ported to Linux. That is a tremendous amount of work that would all have to happen first. This topic hasn't failed to come up, and Microsoft's position has always been that it would much too expensive and their isn't any reason (i.e. the major desktop demand for Linux is to escape the rather low licensing costs so why would these same people pay for Office et al).

  • Re:this is big.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by code_martial ( 625004 ) on Friday December 27, 2002 @12:46AM (#4964503) Homepage Journal
    The indian one is defninitely going to be in english

    No, that's not really so "definite". One of the major reasons why Linux has been chosen for this task is that it's easier to localize Linux into the scores of local Indian languages, rather than paying a proprietary vendor for this job. Considerable efforts have gone into this already. Consider IndiX [], BharateeyaOO.o [] and IndLinux [] (also here []), for example. There was even news that some high school students won a Hindi font design contest and rejected Microsoft's offer to buy the font, preferring to release it under GPL but I don't have a reference right now.

    GoI is very keen on localization so that the reach of computers can be extended to the non-english speaking rural population of India too.
  • by donutello ( 88309 ) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:50AM (#4964843) Homepage
    The article is light on details but from reading it there were two things I gathered they were doing:

    1. When asking for bids, the requirements wouldn't specify Microsoft - rather specify the true requirements.

    2. Computer textbooks wouldn't teach Word or Excel - rather teach how to use word processors and spreadsheets.

    Both are things they should be doing regardless of Linux. It's asinine to do otherwise.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine