[fosscomm] Nasscom has been trying to influence the government to have a propriety-based set up
vinay at itforchange.net
Sun Jul 19 21:19:49 PDT 2009
Deccan Herald, Bangalore reports on the egov standards controversy
Draft policy recommends open standards for e-governance
Rat race begins among vendors for contracts
Sandeep Moudgal and Chethan Kumar, Bangalore, DH News Service:
As the e-Governance programme in India gains momentum through the draft
policy on Open standards, a rat race has begun among industry players
seeking to win the contracts worth an estimated Rs 30,000 crore.
The draft policy by the Department of Information Technology (DIT) —
titled ‘Draft Policy on Open Standards for e-Governance’, in its
recommendations states, “It is imperative that India as a nation makes
use of Open Standards for e-Governance.”
The reasons cited for such a policy were, amongst others, to ‘ensure
reliable long term accessibility to public documents and information’;
and ‘provide users larger spectrum of choice of solutions and
flexibility by avoiding locking to specific vendor or proprietary
solutions for both hardware and software’. On the fray are the open
source format endorsers and the propriety vendors — both of who are keen
on influencing the government.
While, big open source players like Google, IBM, Red Hat, Sun
Microsystems are learnt to have approached the government individually
to request retention of the draft policy recommendations, Nasscom is
said to be not playing fair game. If true, it surely gives some leeway
to the open source vendors.
Industry players claim that Nasscom has been trying to influence the
government to have a propriety-based set up. “Nasscom has foregone
concerns of national interest and is vouching for commercial interests
of certain firms, that do not even represent the majority in terms of
numbers,” a senior official from a firm gushed.
Nasscom, sources claim, has supposedly in a letter to the government
said that it endorses multiple standards through proprieties. Also that
it has not consulted any of the players.
Venkatesh Hariharan, Director, Red Hat,a major open source software
firm, in his blog said: “In a new twist, I am told that Nasscom and
Manufacturers Association for Information Technology (MAIT) have
submitted their recommendations, purportedly on behalf of the industry.
If this is indeed the case, my organisation, Red Hat was not consulted.
I also checked with IBM and they too were not consulted. Since Red Hat
and IBM have been key players in this area, this is definitely intriguing.”
Subsequently, the director of the Company has sent a letter addressed
to the Nasscom chief, Som Mittal to weigh the pros and cons of the draft
policy. The letter is up for public viewing on his blog.
While admitting differences among its ranks on the issue, Nasscom
officials however denied all allegations of a foul play. “We are in
talks with all the players and are trying to come to consensus,” said an
But some firms are not convinced. “It is quite clear who is pulling the
strings. The obvious beneficiary in this scenario would be Microsoft.
Nasscom has not contacted us despite we being a major player, and
according to our knowledge it is not in talks with the others either,”
said a spokesperson from a firm.
With major e-Governance projects like the Unique Idenfication Card
project in the offing, the stakes are high and the winner of this war is
likely to be the front-runner for the future of IT in the country.
IT for Change
vinay at itforchange.net
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