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Assocham Demands ‘Fair, Non-Discriminatory Regime For Open Source Software’

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Assocham (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) has submitted a note to the Information Technology Ministry, stating that the government of India should modify the policy on adopting open source software (AOSS) and facilitate for a “fair and non-discriminatory software ecosystem.”

The chamber has suggested that building of a technology neutral IT procurement policy and environment, which is business friendly and world class, requires extensive stakeholder consultations.

It is worth mentioning here that the government of India had announced a policy for adopting open source software (OSS) in March this year. The government had, then, made it mandatory that open source software should be considered along with proprietary products, simply because open source technologies bring in transparency and reduce the total cost of ownership of projects.

By far, the policy has been made applicable in the Central government organisations, along with those state governments, that adopt this policy.

Assocham also highlighted some earlier government reports that have advocated the concepts of interoperability and open standards, along with open source. The policies were also against any procurement preference.

According to a PTI report, Assocham said, “There are some who believe that in cases where open source software is available, no commercial software should be used. This can sometimes be counter—productive, since there may be cases when commercial software is better suited than the open source versions.

It is not a good idea to force the use of specific software of any type. Instead, the focus should be on adopting open standards, and using open source as prudent.”

Assocham believes that it is the responsibility of Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY) to grow the IT ecosystem across the country, including aspects like hardware, communication, software, manufacturing and tech like R&D, IoT, BPO services along with open source and e-governance. Hence, Assocham has suggested that DeitY should be technology neutral and should not make any technology mandatory, undermining the other technologies.

As per the current AOSS policy, all government organisations have to include a “specific requirement in Request for Proposal (RFP) for all suppliers to consider OSS along with closed source software (CSS)”, while implementing e-Governance applications and systems, stated the PTI report.