Friday, September 19, 2008

India's Draft Policy on Open Standards for e-Governance released

India's Department of IT has released the Draft Policy on Open Standards for e-Governance. For the open source community, this is a significant
step forward because this policy can eliminate the barriers that we have faced due to proprietary standards like .doc, .mpg and others.

Once this policy is finalized, it will become a part of all future Requests for Proposals (RFPs). A committee has been constituted to review standards on the basis of the mandatory charecteristics required by this policy. The committee's report shows that according to this policy, ODF, OGG, W3C standards etc are some of the standards that meet all the mandatory criteria for open standards. OOXML, MPEG etc *do not* meet these mandatory criteria.

The most controversial aspect of this policy was whether multiple standards should be allowed for the same purpose. We have been vocal in arguing vendors should collaborate on standards and compete on their implementation because this is the best outcome for industry and consumers and the Draft Policy has accepted this point.