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Is NASSCOM anti Open Standards?
By Shalini Singh

NASSCOM has been set up to consolidate and promote the interests of the booming IT-BPO industries in India.  NASSCOM members account for 95 percent of the industry revenues in India and employ more than 2.5 million professionals. While NASSCOM is credited for doing a great job for the Indian IT-BPO sector, some of its actions are hard to understand. 

While most are in agreement that Open Standards are good for the world and especially developing countries like India, NASSCOM has been quite half hearted in supporting it.

Bangalore-based The Centre for Internet and Society is dedicated to ensuring digital pluralism, public accountability and pedagogic practices in India and the region.  This public interest organization is staffed by many highly qualified, idealistic people who have given up lucrative careers in the private sector to work for the betterment of society.

When the Indian Government proposed a draft National Policy on Open Standards for e-Governance,  most key players in India sent in their views.  These would be multi-billion dollars contracts and would affect the lives of hundreds of millions of Indians.

The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) is pushing for more open standards.  It is an accepted fact that such a system ensures lower cost and higher quality.  On the other hand, you have large software companies who want to lock in Indians into proprietary software.

NASSCOM has succumbed to the lobbying of some tech companies,  and has become reluctant to whole heartedly support Open Standards.

The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) has told the public:


Second Response to Draft National Policy on Open Standards for e-Governance
By Pranesh Prakash

The government is in the process of drafting a national policy on open standards for e-governance. The National Informatics Centre recently released draft version 2 of the policy, and CIS sent in its comments on the draft.

CIS has been following the drafting of the national policy on open standards for e-governance with much interest.  Last year, we offered our comments on the first draft of the policy.  The policy has since gone through two more iterations (copies of which are kept on the Fosscomm site), labelled versions 1.15 and 2, and we have again offered comments on the latest version.  The evolution the draft policy has been mired in controversy, as documented by Venkatesh Hariharan of Red Hat.  It seems that the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) has been trying to nullify the effect of the policy by pushing for recognition of proprietary standards within the policy, and that too without consultation with its members.

We believe that proprietary standards go against the interests the government, which as the primary consumer of the standards would have to pay royalties and would face vendor lock-in, of small and medium enterprises, which provide direct and indirect services to the government, since they would be required to invest in those closed standards to service the government, and most of all, of the citizens of India.

…….

Techgoss had learnt that the NASSCOM committee which drafted their opinion did not consult IBM India, Sun and Red Hat - all of whom are strong proponents of Open Standards.


(7/10/2009)
Comments
Shrikant at 7/16/2009 7:24:52 AM
Two things strike me from this article: 1. Absolutely! Even in the ISO debate on document standards, NASSCOM voted in favour of Office OpenXML as opposed to the fundamentally more open ODF, in direct opposition to the same biggies mentioned above. This was in line with the stance of the ITES majors though (Wipro, TCS, Infosys), who I suppose NASSCOM is more beholden to, though. 2. For an article espousing open standards to be on a page/site that isn't crss-browser is ironic :-)
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