India: Open source now compulsory in government administrations

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Yesterday, the Indian government released a circular letter announcing the obligation to use open source software when building applications and services, in an effort to “ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs”.

The decision marks a strong commitment by India’s government. In a document published on Sunday, the government required agencies and administrations attached to the central government to favour open source solutions in any new projects for the creation of services or infrastructure. This could well serve to boost the development of open ecosystems and the open source industry around the world.

The document first describes the objective of rapidly adopting open source software whilst preserving strategic control over its electronic administration. It also emphasizes the intention of reducing the total cost of software ownership. With that in mind, the government has committed to becoming a contributor to the open source community, at both the local and international levels.

The circular letter was authored by India’s DeitY (Department of Electronic and Information Technology). DeitY recommends that all administrations include a special clause in their project documents and invitations to tender, in which partners are encouraged to use open source software. Should proprietary software be selected, the reasons for that choice will need to be duly justified.

This initiative places the Indian government on the front line of countries promoting the use of open source software as an alternative to proprietary software, alongside the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. For its part, France is lagging somewhat behind, although a political will in this direction was expressed in the “Ayrault Circular Letter” in 2012.


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