[fosscomm] Help required to form FOSSCOM as analternate Industry and Civil Society body to NASSCOM

sajan venniyoor venniyoor at gmail.com
Sat Jul 11 09:10:23 PDT 2009

On Sat, Jul 11, 2009 at 8:47 PM, prabir <prabirp at gmail.com> wrote:

> The problem right now is that we are getting bogged down in
> who will represent us in this one issue of open standards one time,
> and losing sight of what we need to do to be heard and called into
> such bodies. That I am afraid will mean entering the real world, which
> is much worse than the virtual world.

What it boils down to is that we need a representative body for the FOSS
community. I understand that this is anathema to many in the community, but
that's how the real world seems to work. There are at least four -- perhaps
more -- ways in which an umbrella organization could be set up:
1. A Society -- a not-for-profit organization under the Indian Societies
Act, 1860. (Both Nasscom and MAIT are registered as such)
2. A Trust -- a public charitable trust
3. A Section 25 Company (god forbid)
4. A non-registered network of the sort we have now. The Narmada Bachao
Andolan, I'm told, is such a network.

For various reasons, we should seriously consider registering FOSSCOMM as a
Society. 'To be heard and called', as Prabir puts it,  into consultative
committees and such, we need to be a registered body or legal entity, as
governments like to call it. An executive body or nodal person is required
to deal with governments and other representative bodies, and we would need
at the very least  a telephone number, a fax number, a mail id and a mailing
address. The contact person is not necessarily the one who actually attends
these meetings -- that's for the governing body or the collective wisdom of
the community to decide (though collective wisdom, as we have seen, can take
a long time coming).

It is not necessary that the representative body actually represents
everyone in the FOSS community. It is very unlikely that it would do so. But
whether we have universal consensus or simply a majority view on any issue,
we would still need an agency to put forward that view.

Also, as we have seen with the issue of flying Nagarjuna to Delhi to
represent us, that sort of thing simply cannot depend on the generosity of
individuals. We need institutional mechanisms. Otherwise, we will
continually be forced to pick 'someone from Delhi' to do the job, and what
begins as a convenience could soon evolve into a tradition and thence into a

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