It seems that the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has finally rediscovered its wisdom. AICTE is the prime decision-making national-level council that takes care of technical education in India. It accredits postgraduate and graduate programs under specific categories at Indian institutions as per its charter. You can judge its importance from the fact that some of the top Indian universities/colleges like NITs and IIITs are affiliated with AICTE.
Muktware reported last month about AICTE’s absurd vendor lock-in, in which it mandatory for educational institutes affliated with it to use Microsoft Office 365. This move was highly criticized by the free software community, who insisted that a public-domain organization shouldn’t encourage, or at the very least shouldn’t make mandatory, the use of proprietary offerings when similar free and high-quality alternatives exist.
Bhuvan Krishna, General Secretary, Free Software Movement of India (FSMI), announced on the FOSSCOM mailing list that AICTE has finally agreed to remove the the mandatory clause from the notice on implementing Office365. The decision comes in light of concerns raised by some eminent politicians, free software supporters and people from the academia.
A delegation from the Free Software Movement of India and other groups have submitted a representation demanding the revision of the decision of the AICTE making the usage of Office-365 mandatory on the 30th of April 2013.
A group of young parliamentarians led by P Rajeev also made a representation to the AICTE chairman raising concerns that were similar on 07-05-13. The signatories include Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Sitaram Yechury, KN Balagopal, PK Biju CP Narayanan, Prashantho Chatterjee, Tapan Sen, Dr T Seema and MP Achutan.
We understand that the AICTE has now agreed and is removing the mandatory clause from the notice. We welcome this decision. However, we demand that AICTE should revise the decision of using Office-365 totally, as it is not in the interest of the students, institutions and colleges. AICTE as a public funded body should not engage in supporting proprietary systems.