[Fsf-friends] Re: KC and open source
Fri May 19 18:57:42 IST 2006
Hi Malavika and others,
You are right in what you have brought out. There are some other aspects
which also need to be taken into account with respect to the various
govts' processes. Each govt deptt is a law unto itself--eg x state govt
has slightly different laws and working processes than y state govt.
A case in point is land revenue computerisation projects or high courts.
High courts in the country have no standardisation --something i came to
know from NIC people --most high courts have their own procedures which
are different from the others (even terminology is different, rates and
fees are different etc)--so we first need to get a common requirements
specification made for the various govt departments. and Standardisation
can only happen when there is more sharing of projects
information--basically the top level requirements specs. But LUGs are
more interested in the coding part of it--whereas the problem is at a
higher level of abstraction.
So first we need 1--an education/ongoing debate in how the various
systems really work and then [ THIS REALLY NEEDS TO BECOME MAINSTREAM
--because without this aspect becoming common knowledge, things won't
change in the way society functions)
2-- find the problems in the systems
3 then propose better and integrated standardised solutions (if
everybody is willing to accept them, that is)
4 begin coding and demonstration projects for the more enlightened
states or deptts
5 keep the historical knowledge from steps1,2,3,4 in the public domain
for further improvements and assimilation
Also the LUGs in India are more of informal weak groups--they are not
acting as part of a guild which has tentacles into formal companies and
which can force the pace of standardisation and change in business,
society and govt. Only the idealist people (active members in the
forums/LUGs) share knowledge and thoughts/ideas --the rest are keeping
mum (waiting to grab ideas). Indians also have a mentality of being
uncommunicative rather than collaborative--each is suspicious of the
other as if they are in some sort of competition or rat race. They do
not understand --"less is more" concept. We need more team spirit which
is what is lacking in our collaborative projects. There is very little
handholding here --specially for people who are not computer literate or
newbies or below the level of the elite geniuses. European, American and
South American people are far more collaborative --we haven't got one
single major INdian led project (which has majority
Maybe if we set a goal--say standardised open source courts software for
all courts--starting from the supreme court down to the lowest courts --
I have taken up the courts because they are very critical to the
economy and the formation of social capital --more than 3 or 30 crore
cases are pending and their non working has a multiplier effect on all
sections of society.
Though the supreme court has its own software and is almost
computerised, yet an academic exercise of replicating the processes in
open source will not threaten the system in any way and yet be a very
good demonstrator or alternative when it becomes equal or surpasses the
present computer system in terms of quality and other features.
Our main problem is to get funding for such a demonstrator project and
this could be arranged from ashoka.org or other funding agencies. The
fundamental principle should be --not to take money for a project from
the entity itself which is being improved (such as the govt) unless the
people in the entity really want to change things and do not use the
grant of funds to be used to sway the project implementors. Most of the
time govt funded projects cause bitterness,loss of moral values and
corruption because the fund releasing deptt itself is corrupt-- people
lose their self esteem etc. Even well written contracts cannot be
enforced as legal help (though available) has simply not been planned for.
I have also taken the courts--because they affect everybody and
opensource is basically about improving social capital. The judicial
system affects everybody and it will be the best hi profile demonstrator
project in ushering the Indian subcontinent into an era of prosperity
thru open source and other ways. Even if the Indian judiciary is not
amenable to change towards computerisation, smaller countries like
Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh,Maldives etc will be very happy to
get a boost in their governance processes and become preferred
destinations to attract capital to their beleagured economies (much like
Luxembourg, Switzerland etc in Europe)
malovika roy wrote:
> we keep hearing about projects like mentioned by Kush below done by
> organisations. But these are isolated cases. what is slowing down the
> of open source in e-governance especially, is the lack of coordination
> sharing of knowledge. Its ironic actually. to some extent there is
> coordiantion, but then why arent successful projects shared or talked
> in forums like this one? will someone from Pune LUG tell us what they
> done for e-governance? Likewise will someone from Bangalore LUG share
> knowledge with Delhi LUG? I am not implying that there is no sharing
> at all,
> there is, however, how many of them are working on e-governance projects?
> there is nothing to quantify this fact.
> Point is that vaious groups tend to go thru the same cycle of planning
> working out an e-governance project which can be just cloned and
> enhanced or
> modified for customised use.
> While Indian developer community is being noticed and praised for its
> there is still a big void of contribution to the public sector. And
> this is
> not just my opinion, but the feeling of most leading companies who are
> continually encouraging student community, and asking for more public
> We would like to know why?
>> I think we will have to take multiple different approaches with respect
>> to the govt adopting open source. The problem is not that conscientious
>> officers in govt don't understand that open source is better but they
>> are reluctant to act as they are frequently bypassed or interfered in
>> day to day working thru vested interests lobbying the political people.
>> Open source gives the organised civil society an opportunity and a
>> challenge to start becoming an alternative to organised government. Once
>> civil society makes alternative information systems and methods of
>> collaboration for the general populace, the existing govt structure will
>> be forced to start reducing the establishment costs by giving value for
>> money to citizens for govt services (as citizens will start demanding
>> them) thru adoption of cost control technologies such as open source.
>> This is something which has started to happen in Mumbai now specially
>> for the municipal govt. Organised civil society is now taking up the IT
>> component of the municipality (praja.org etc). Their system is not open
>> source fully but by bypassing the govt IT machinery (which is liable to
>> political interference) things have changed. Creation of new bureaucracy
>> has been stalled and existing bureaucracy is being forced to act.
>> Praja is also working in Bangalore. They are bypassing the formation of
>> new govt structures such as NIC, CDAC etc which till now had a
>> stranglehold on every aspect of egovernance.
>> "Things work out best for the people who make the best out
>> of the way things work out."
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