What is the state of adoption of FOSS in India?

India now is becoming a hub of startups, around 700 million smartphone users - who are looking for innovative software and growing developer communities.

 · 3 min read

The Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement in India during the 1990s and 2000s unbinds the restrictions forced on the use of proprietary software and helped FOSS to gear up.

Today FOSS empowers the computation power to a large spectrum of softwares including most of our smartphones (Android OS), databases, Web Servers, etc. Today, our society runs with the help of the internet which, in turn, is mostly accessed by free software. Whether it is the supply chain, communication, transportation or our government, all run on cloud and the cloud is powered by free-software.

FOSS offers the freedom of usage, customization and the relative cost-effectiveness, the adoption of FOSS by India can help the nation to upscale the use of Information Technology in its pursuit of Digital India Initiative. In this context, we can bet on India becoming the global FOSS hub.

A FOSS ecosystem comprises of a multitude of stakeholders government, academic institutions like schools and colleges, FOSS solution providers and the FOSS community.

What is the state of adoption of FOSS in India??

I will share the adoption of FOSS in the three major areas of the Indian society i.e., Governance, Academia and Business enterprise.

1. Governance

E-governance services like Aadhar card, Digilocker, CRIS (The Center for railway information system) for online ticket booking portal, The Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS) and few others have incorporated several FOSS software in order to guarantee data safety which might have been an issue otherwise.

States like Kerala are using FOSS tools in almost in every e-governance services they have initiated like KASE (Skill development platform of Kerala), AKSHAYA.

2. Academia

Many FOSS enabled government policies has been supported in the implementation of FOSS in education. Operating system and software applications are preferred in order to expand the range of learning, creation and sharing". The positive role of FOSS in education has been clearly understood by the policymakers.

Kerala has become the World's first State to undertake the largest deployment of FOSS in Education Sector. Computers in schools of Kerala run Ubuntu Linux. Free and Open Source software like GNUKhata is used for accounting and LibreOffice replaces MS Office.

3. Business Enterprise

Let's say someone needs to start a business (preferably online), among other things, the founder must find ways to optimise setup cost. FOSS plays a very important role in supporting the business by cutting the setup cost, scaling the business at a lower cost and many more features. While cost is an important factor, businesses are also looking hard at other benefits of FOSS, such as interoperability, flexibility, and access to the underlying code in their systems.

Bombay Stock Exchange, The Life Insurance Corporation, The New India Assurance Company and many more companies have migrated to FOSS to scale their business and maximize the profit.

Ending Thoughts

Although many policies have come to promote and make use of FOSS in India, the adoption might have been started gradually by the Government, Academics and Business enterprises but we still lack something which is very important in a FOSS ecosystem. Can you guess that?

India now is becoming a hub of startups, around 700 million smartphone users - who are looking for innovative software and growing developer communities. When we look into the number of quality FOSS projects coming out of India, we definitely get disappointment by seeing it. So what and where are the plans to promote and strengthen the FOSS projects building?

In the next blog, I will share how FOSS United is planning to support the FOSS projects and strengthen the FOSS ecosystem in India. Also, FOSS United is organizing FOSS Hack 2020 which is happening online on 12th & 13th September 2020, and inviting students and professionals to build or extend FOSS projects and compete for the 10 lakh Rupee prize pool. If you are a technology community or group, we invite you to become a community partner to encourage your community to participate in the hackathon. You can reach me at vishal@fossunited.org for more information on this.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section. Also, check out our blog page to read more.

References: Wikipedia, Ripublication, kerala.gov.in, techrepublic.com, Meta image credit: Wikipedia

Vishal Arya

Loves digging into the strategy of how to build and foster developer communities

Vishal Arya August 24, 2020

Thank you Shammi.

Do share this blog in your circles. Also check out FOSS Hack 2020.

Shammi Anand August 24, 2020

Awesome! Great article!

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