A recent talk by Honb'le Mr.Justice Yatindra Singh on Leveraging Open
Source Software was delivered at 9th e-Governance held from 2-4th
February 2006 at Kochi Kerala and is available at
I should invite attention to the Q & A session mentioned therein,
between the President and the Author, which brings out the benefits of
spontaneity that is free, open, natural and relaxed:
16. Last year I was at Bhopal attending a colloquium on 'Law, Science
and ethics'. The President of India also addressed us through video
conferencing. During the question session, I asked him, 'Computers
and information technology have an important role in reducing the
arrears in the court as well as in helping in other areas. Broadly
there are two kinds of softwares to do that. Proprietary and Open
Source. Which one is better?
17. He answered, 'First of all, I would like to clarify that the
choice of proprietary vs. Open software is driven by the usage and
requirements of the user at the operating system level. Since,
proprietary software is predominantly used at the client level; many
users are familiar and confor table with this. However, at the server
level mature users choose the software as per their requirement. Open
source operating system enables the development of language
independent software's and also building one's own security algorithms
to suit his requirement. Indian IT industry is capable of providing a
solution for the justice delivery system and its eGovernance to the
justice administration on top of any proprietary or open source
systems. What is important here is justice delivery system should be
interoperable system built on top of open standards such as web
18. The challenges and difficulties in shifting over to OSS are
apparent from the answer. The majority is used to proprietary
software and is trained in it. The main challenge is,
· in changing over;
· getting used to the new environment; and
· training the staff.
19. This is vicious a circle. If you don't shif t then you rely more
on the proprietary sof tware and more you have to pay. Perhaps what
is required is to change our perception regarding OSS and increse its
awareness. We may consider the following points:
(i) The awareness regarding OSS should start from the school level:
Computer education is already in curriculum of the schools
and colleges. There is hardly any representation of OSS in
their curriculam. Most of the topics that are there belong
to proprietary sof tware. The operating system of computers
are in proprietary sof tware. Curriculum of schools and
colleges should compulsory have topics on OSS and the
computers should leave operating system in OSS.
(ii) Utilisation of grant: The government gives grants for purchasing
computers and for different projects. The government grant
may be utilised for purchasing computers having OSS
operating system. Apart from operating systems there are
applications. Many applications are on OSS and run on all
kinds of operating systems including the proprietary ones.
Even if the operating system is the proprietary one, then at
least it should have applications that are on OSS.
(iii) Exclusive OSS cell: It is ture that we are leading IT community
in the world but many IT exper ts in government organisation
work exclusively with proprietary software. It will be good
idea to create separate cell in government and semi
government departments to develop applications exclusively
(iv) Solution in OSS first: A policy decision may be taken to find
solutions of projects first in OSS and in case it is not
possible only then it may be sought in the proprietary
20. The Allahabad High Court has taken a policy decision to work in
Open Source Software and store documents in open document format. All
new computers have linux as operating system. Apart from it,
suite, Firefox, Thunderbird, Sunbird have been adopted
as applications software. A chart mentioning others details and the
projects under taken is appended as Appendix 1.
If the observations are taken seriously by the policy makers here,
it could ensure a certain victory for all.
A man to whom it has been given to bless the world with a great
creative idea has no need for the praise of posterity. His very
achievement has already conferred a higher boon upon him.
-Albert Einstein at the Max Planck Memorial Services, 1948.