[fosscomm] Nasscom has been trying to influence the government to have a propriety-based set up

vinay ವಿನಯ್ 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.

Influencing policy?

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.


Vinay Sreenivasa
IT for Change
vinay at itforchange.net


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