[Fsf-friends] Re: KC and open source

Kush be_a_sport@[EMAIL-PROTECTED]
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 
indian/pakistani/bangladeshi/srilankan contributors).

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:

> hi,
> we keep hearing about projects like mentioned by Kush below done by 
> various
> organisations. But these are isolated cases. what is slowing down the 
> impact
> of open source in e-governance especially, is the lack of coordination 
> and
> sharing of knowledge. Its ironic actually. to some extent there is
> coordiantion, but then why arent successful projects shared or talked 
> about
> in forums like this one? will someone from Pune LUG tell us what they 
> have
> done for e-governance? Likewise will someone from Bangalore LUG share 
> their
> 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 
> and
> 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 
> work,
> 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 
> sector
> development.
> We would like to know why?
> Malovika.
>> 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.
>> Kush
>> ------------------------------
>> _______________________________________________
>> -----------------------------------------------------------
>> "Things work out best for the people who make the best out
>> of the way things work out."
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