MARCH 14, 2009: Indian prime minister-in-waiting and Opposition
leader Lal Krishna Advani of the BJP has come out with a stand that
is seen to strongly favour Free Software and Open Source, released
here today. While politicians are known to be lavish with pre-poll
promises, Open Source campaigners were upbeat over the
New Delhi goes to the polls for its national parliamentary
elections within weeks.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, a right-wing influential party that
rule India between 1998 to 2004, included "key sections of the FOSS
(Free/Libre and Open Source Software) Manifesto" in its IT vision
that was released Saturday, March 14, 2009, Venkatesh Hariharan of
Red Hat India and a Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FOSS)
lobbyist at the policy level announced.
The BJP is Centre-Right in nature, and the party advocates
conservative social policies, self-reliance, an emphasis on
economic growth, with an emphasis on "nationalism" and a strong
military and defence policy.
Hariharan pointed to the just-released 40-page "vision document"
and said the man who is seen to have chances to become India's next
prime minister had "strongly articulated" major demands from the
FOSS world -- on FOSS in education, on open standards, on
encouraging freely shareable FOSS based knowledge and repositories
like Wikipedia in Indian languages.
India's small but active FOSS campaigners have been pushing
politicians and governments to take stance in favour of Free
Software, Open Source and related issues.
In what it called a 'FOSS Manifesto', at a site called
public-software.in, the campaigners called on Indian political
parties "to make FOSS usage and promotion a central part of the IT,
e-government and education plans in their election manifestos."
They argued that FOSS "is software which is liberally licensed
to grant the right of users to study, change, and improve its
design through the availability of its source code. The open,
inclusive and participatory nature of FOSS is a natural fit for the
vibrant traditions of Indian democracy and its emphasis on sharing
To bolster their case, they said that since "software is the
foundation of the digital economy," India's IT infrastructure
should be built on FOSS and "not on closed, proprietary software
systems that enforce restrictive licenses, limit the freedom of
users and encourage monopolistic behaviour."
In the recent past, parties on the Left have also supported such
FOSS initiatives. The CPI(M) government in Kerala is known for its
computer education policy based on Free Software, while FOSS
campaigners have also sought to build links between the Left and
their campaigns on ideological grounds.
"The Left, specially the Communist Party of India (Marxists),
has also been supportive in taking stands against software patents
in India, and in favour of open standards," Hariharan told this
"Of the major parties, only the (currently ruling) Congress is
left to take a stand," he argued.
In a blog post, Hariharan commented, "As a long time supporter
of free and open source software, I am delighted to see a major
Indian political party [the BJP] endorse [the FOSS Manifesto].
However, I am even more delighted to see that this endorsement is
rooted in a comprehensive vision for India's development."
The BJP's press release put out today is at: L.K. Advani
releases BJP's IT Vision Document
The FOSS Manifesto, which campaigners are placing before
politicians prior to India's upcoming crucial parliamentary
elections, is at: FOSS