A draft FOSS manifesto for Indian political parties
The Free and Open Source Software community in India calls upon political parties to make FOSS usage and promotion a central part of the IT, e-government and education plans in their election manifestos. FOSS is software which is liberally licensed to grant the right of users to study, change, and improve its design through the availability of its source code. The open, inclusive and participatory nature of FOSS is a natural fit for the vibrant traditions of Indian democracy. Since software is the foundation of the knowledge economy, India's IT infrastructure should be built on FOSS and not on closed, proprietary software systems.
We believe that encouragement of FOSS will result in:
- Development of the domestic IT industry
- Creation of jobs
- Encouragement of skills development and upgradation
- Enable localization of software to Indian languages
- Reduction of India's dependence on monopolistic proprietary software vendors
- Encourage the usage of open standards
- Bridging the digital divide
- Rapid modernization and computerization of India's education system
- Technology upgradation of India's Small and Medium Enterprises
- Efficient usage of budget outlays for e-government
- Faster technology development through Collaborative Innovation
- Encouraging the use of FOSS in Indian education system. This will inculcate the virtues of collaboration, sharing and participation in children from a very young age and make computerization of schools affordable.
- Eliminating proprietary software from the education syllabus and making the syllabus vendor-neutral, thus giving teachers and students the choice of software that suits their budgets and needs.
- Using FOSS in e-government to the maximum possible extent and ensuring that government tenders are open and do not favor proprietary software vendors. All software developed with tax-payers money should be released under a FOSS license to encourage collaboration; and the sharing of code and best practices.
- Mandating the usage of open standards that are free from royalties and vendor lock-in so that the interaction between the government and citizens happens in a free and open manner befitting a democracy.
- Encouraging freely shareable, FOSS based knowledge repositories like Wikipedia in Indian languages.
- Encouraging the usage of the collaborative model of FOSS in scientific research. Science thrives on collaboration and the sharing of knowledge. The current trend of privatizing knowledge leads to secrecy in science and reduces collaboration. We must use the FOSS model based on collaboration, community and shared ownership of knowledge to spark a renaissance of knowledge in India.
- Eliminating software and business method patents that have lead to huge amounts of litigation in developed countries. Indian traditions have held that knowledge grows by sharing and diminishes when hoarded. Patents on software and business methods grant undue monopolies on ideas and prevent independent invention and the sharing of knowledge.