The newly elected government of Delhi is all set to switch to free software for computing, starting from the educational institutions in the first phase.
Arvind Kejriwal, the new ‘anti-corruption’ chief minister of India’s capital, recently met free software advocate Richard Stallman and Joseph C Mathew, the former IT advisor to Kerala government, according to a television report.
Stallman also met Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia.
“It’s the general idea that the state and especially schools should move to free software,” Stallman told television channel Mathrubhumi.
This new initiative comes after Kejriwal’s announcement that monopolies will not be allowed in the retail industry. Stallman said that he shared the philosophy of Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), according to the report.
The government’s move could be a setback for companies like Microsoft which focus heavily on educational institutions with their proprietary software. Microsoft has tied up with the AICTE and other schools for its software in educational institutions.
Kerala has already abandoned Windows in favour of free software like Linux in all government establishments.
There is a commendable increase in open source adoption within India’s education system over the last few years. Kerala pioneered open source in schools with its famous IT@Schools project in 2001. Since then, other states like Karnataka, Gujarat, Assam and West Bengal have been including open source in their school education initiatives.
“Governmental agencies must exclusively use free software. The state has a responsibility to maintain control over their computing and it is impractical with proprietary software, especially those by foreign companies,” Stallman said while delivering a lecture on A Free Digital Society organised by Kerala Union of Working Journalists ( KUWJ) and Society for Promotion of Alternate Computing and Employment (SPACE).
Talking about the education sector, he added, “Educational institutions should also take initiatives to propagate free software and use it exclusively. A proprietary software is an agent of withholding knowledge. It should be used only to teach reverse engineering, an area with growing demand.”