Saturday, October 20, 2007

A FOSS Foundation for India

Over the last few years, most of us in the community have often discussed setting up a foundation for Free and Open Source Software in India to work on policy, advocacy, promotion and development of FOSS and open standards. I think the time is now ripe to bring industry, government, academia, and the community to gether to create a FOSS consortium. Some initial thoughts on the charter of the foundation and organization structure are given below. I'd love to hear from the community what they think of this.

Charter of the FOSS Foundation

1)Formulate strategies on how India can benefit from deploying FOSS and
implement/monitor implementation of the same.
2)Monitor latest developments in FOSS technologies and ensure global
leadership in key strategic areas like supercomputing, security,
localization, affordable computing, GIS, embedded computing etc.
3)Research and quantify the benefits of using FOSS for India.
4)Work with government, industry, academia and the open source/free
software community to popularize FOSS in India.
5)Leverage FOSS to bridge the digital divide in India through affordable
computing and localization to all the major Indian languages.
6)Encourage research and analysis of FOSS in India through academic
research, market research, white papers, case studies etc.
7)Study the legal implications of free and open source licenses in the context of global patenting and copyright laws and recommending strategies beneficial to India.

Organization Structure

The Org Structure flows from the charter and therefore, dear blog readers, your comments on the above are of paramount importance. There are several org structures that we can consider:

1) W3C, which is one of the widest industry consortia with over 400 members. It also has an inclusive process which allows the public to participate in its debates and discussions.

2) The Linux Foundation

In brief, LF's structure is that each Platinum member can elect a director, subject to an upper limit of ten, Gold members can elect three directors from amongst themselves and Silver members can elect one director. From their web site, I could not figure out what mechanism they have for community participation.


NASSCOM is the most successful industry organization in India. As its web site says, "In 1988, NASSCOM had 38 members, who together contributed close to 65 percent of the revenue of the software industry. Since then, membership of NASSCOM has grown multifold to reach over 1100 members."

We look forward to your inputs on how to create an open, participatory organization that keeps growing along with the FOSS community. Do send me your comments by the end of next week (26th October 2007).

1 comment:

Mayank said...

One of the things that'll help elevate India's ranking in the FOSS contributors list is to release some of the brilliant work being done by Government-funded research institutions under a FOSS license.

Also if the consortium can go a step further and incubate some FOSS projects in key areas that'll be doubly beneficial.

Ofcourse saying FOSS in/for India is too generic. The consortium has to tackle this "issue" at multiple verticals in each segment. Pushing FOSS usage in an enterprise to power its network infrastructure wouldn't be scoring points. But getting those network admins to write a "Best Practice" guidelines for deploying FOSS-based networks and convincing the "industry" that sharing this information is something beneficial and not a "business secret"...well that's a task!

Best of luck Venky. Looking forward to seeing this materialize.