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The weblog of Abhilash Ravishankar, India.

Here I blog about my personal experiences [posting rarely]

At my tumblelog Intoxicated by possibility I blog about my opinions/likes/dislikes [posting heavily]

Apathy towards FOSS in our own IT Capital

Maybe this is what happens when one loses the habit of browsing through the newspapers. This article published in the newpapers in Banglaore in December 2004 caught my attention on the net. The Karnataka Government has inked MoU with Microsoft according to which Microsoft will set up 3 IT centers in India and impart Kannada education using Microsoft tools to both teachers and students, basically in the rural government schools. Laudable initiative! But only to the point that Indian educaiton is accepting technology for its betterment. The accolades stop there. The question I ask is 'Why Microsoft?'

Hundreds and thousands of people in Bangalore and nearby areas who support the Open Source Movement are in deep shock and anguish. What might be the spate of the FOSS (Free/Open Source Software) movement if the Government itself allies itself with Propreitary software? It reminds me of a popular statement in our friends group - "It aint like digging your own grave. It is searching for a deep hole all over, jumping into it and yelling 'Bury me, Bury me!'". It is deep apathy on the part of the Kanrataka Governmetn to sign the MoU with Steve Ballmer during his visit to Bangalore.
Tehelka had an article over this issue.

The zeitergeist preaches Open Source and we at Bangalore who claim ourselves to live in the IT capital of India, India's own Silicon Valley blah blah blah take one step back in time. It is high time the Dharam Singh Government is taught a lesson or two in current IT affairs. Bangalore has already lost ground as the IT capital. It is being overshaodowed by Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and other cities , though it still has a huge potential for growth in it. I believe the root cause is the present CM Mr. Dharam Singh who by my knowledge, does only one thing best - 'Closes his eyes, tells you to put the briefcase on his table, calls for his PA, and opens his eyes once his PA has taken the briefcase into his locker room'.

Here's what Hari Prasad Nadig, a prime Kannada Open Source Initiative promoter had to say -

Microsoft would be teaching kannada teachers all over the state in what is coined as 'Project Shiksha'. MS would be teaching the teachers the MS technologies, and understandably expanding and exploring its own market and pushing its own technologies and software. The irony is that even though opensource alternatives are available for absolutely no cost, the Government is reluctant to wash its hands by handing over the responsibility to an MNC. Finding open source alternatives would mean more jobs and more self reliance wrt software and technologies. Moreover, the money the government should be spending on development works in various part would flow to one of the world's richest MNC! Needless to say, the issue has sparked a lot of attention these days.

Here are a few links about Kannada OSI (Open Source Initiatives)

Kannada Project @ SourceForge
- A brilliant OS project. "Ought-to-check-out"
Kannada Computing list

I believe that localisation is one of Open Source's distinct advantages. It is time we contribute to it.


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