-- Amended one --- Pls discard the earlier msg, if received --
As adviced by some prominent academicians and social scientists, here within
Kerala, I would like the issue to be discussed within this forum on whether
it would be more appropriate from our part, if we were to issue some press
releases on a regular basis on social fairness, economic impact etc of Free
Software under the banner of FSF, India.
The timing is crucial for FSF India, as e-governance is on the agenda of most
of the Indian States (originating from the Planning Commission of India).
State Planning Board of Govt of Kerala had announced allocation of around 147
crore of rupees for the process. Coupled with the announcement of Ministry of
Information Technology, Govt of India that it would be a partner in funding
goes on only to prove the degree of commitment to this cause.
Even if we were to focus on the freedoms, I would seriously like to put forth
the suggestion to include themes of 'dependency factor', 'economic impact on
future generations of taxpayer' and the 'magnitude of economic capital that
may fly out', as money still happens to be the prime attention catcher for
the general public. Once this attention is caught, we may get into more
Perhaps if we plan to launch press releases at a time (of a month) when there
are no serious national news items, we may be able to hit the bull's eye.
The issue came up for discussion with some eminent social scientists. A
diagram ( http://business.vsnl.com/kalapila/egovernance.pdf
the issue explained against the background of flight of capital (with over
1200 local bodies, various education departments, finance institutions,
health institutions, training institutions - private sector, and
data-processing units from private sector, to name a few) when the entire
network is based on a proprietary software technology was thoroughly debated.
A counter proposition that an effective software migration policy would set
records straight, seemed highly improbable. Any single department arguing for
a migration would have to be subjected to the discretion of other sister
departments. When the economic impact of a migration is countered at this
stage, coupled with the 'inertia factor' of the bureaucratic setup and the
dependency factor (that would have built up ever since commissioning), such a
migration would remain a distant dream. For instance, for the Department of
Local Self Government with over 1200 local bodies, the recurring costs would
come up to over Rs 20 crore for three years. Combined with around 10 data
entry supporting units (on Build Operate Transfer !) and around 4 training
institutes, other department offices, this 20 crore could easily shoot up to
Rs 400 crore and even further. And keep allocating this amount for every
block of three years. Since the global market survey appears to be in favour
of Free Software, most of those trained on proprietary systems might land up
within the State, prescribing it for the micro-enterprises. (Going abroad,
even otherwise, would be a distant dream with the ITES landing up within the
State.) If the press takes up the issue, perhaps our policy makers keen to
help proprietary transnational software companies would be forced to think
The picture appeared to go deep inside, when it was supplemented with
economic figures, stressing on the freedom of companies like Microsoft
Licensing Inc, to impose arbitrary recurring licenses. Since this huge figure
would go out from 'circulation', poorer sections of the society would take
the brunt of the fallout, a highly explosive situation.
Journalists listening to this forum should help in finding a way out.