Rat race begins among vendors for contracts

Draft policy recommends open standards for e-governance


The draft policy by the Department of Information Technology (DIT) — titled ‘Draft Policy on Open Standards for e-Governance’,  in its recommendations states, “It is imperative that India as a nation makes use of Open Standards for e-Governance.”

The reasons cited for such a policy were, amongst others, to ‘ensure reliable long term accessibility to public documents and information’; and ‘provide users larger spectrum of choice of solutions and flexibility by avoiding locking to specific vendor or proprietary solutions for both hardware and software’. On the fray are the open source format endorsers and the propriety vendors — both of who are keen on influencing the government.

While, big open source players like Google, IBM, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems are learnt to have approached the government individually to request retention of the draft policy recommendations, Nasscom is said to be  not playing fair game. If true, it surely gives some leeway to the open source vendors.

Industry players claim that Nasscom has been trying to influence the government to have a propriety-based set up. “Nasscom has foregone concerns of national interest and is vouching for commercial interests of certain firms, that do not even represent the majority in terms of numbers,” a senior official from a firm gushed.

Nasscom, sources claim, has supposedly in a letter to the government said that it endorses multiple standards through proprieties. Also that it has not consulted any of the players.

Venkatesh Hariharan, Director, Red Hat,a major open source software firm, in his blog said: “In a new twist, I am told that Nasscom and Manufacturers Association for Information Technology (MAIT) have submitted their recommendations, purportedly on behalf of the industry. If this is indeed the case, my organisation, Red Hat was not consulted. I also checked with IBM and they too were not consulted. Since Red Hat and IBM have been key players in this area, this is definitely intriguing.”

Subsequently, the director of  the Company has sent a letter addressed to the Nasscom chief, Som Mittal to weigh the pros and cons of the draft policy. The letter is up for public viewing on his blog.

Influencing policy?

While admitting differences among its ranks on the issue, Nasscom officials however denied all allegations of a foul play. “We are in talks with all the players and are trying to come to consensus,” said an official. 

But some firms are not convinced. “It is quite clear who is pulling the strings. The obvious beneficiary in this scenario would be Microsoft. Nasscom has not contacted us despite we being a major player, and according to our knowledge it is not in talks with the others either,” said a spokesperson from a firm.

With major e-Governance projects like the Unique Idenfication Card project in the offing, the stakes are high and the winner of this war is likely to be the front-runner for the future of IT in the country.

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