RFC - MEITY Committee on FOSS

MEITY has multiple policies on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). The Policy on Adoption of Open Source Software states that, “Government of India shall endeavour to adopt Open Source Software in all e-Governance systems implemented by various Government organizations, as a preferred option in comparison to Closed Source Software (CSS).”

It also has a Policy On Collaborative Application Development by Opening the Source Code of Government Applications. The preamble states that the policy, “intends to increase the pace of application development and rapid roll out/ implementation by adopting the principles of open-source development model. Government wants to promote reuse of existing developed applications. Successful running applications and new applications are envisaged to be developed within the public domain by opening the application source code and it is also intended to encourage innovation inside and outside Government by encouraging collaborative development to achieve better products in less time.” After formulating this policy, the Ministry of IT also set up OpenForge, a source code repository that now hosts 2130 projects.

It has been many years since these policies were approved, and the global technology landscape and the Indian policy landscape have seen tremendous changes. FOSS is now the de-facto development model for software and its model of Collaborative Innovation has led to tremendous advances in technologies of everyday use to cutting edge emerging technologies like AI/ML. It is therefore time to review these policies and update them if necessary. On the policy front, India has introduced a number of policies like Digital India, Startup India, Atmanirbhar Bharat and others where FOSS has a critical role to play. In light of all these developments, this is an opportune moment to review these open source policies and update them, if necessary.

This can be done by setting up a committee that consists of government, academia, industry and FOSS community.

Terms of Reference for the FOSS Committee

The committee will:

  1. Review global developments in the FOSS ecosystem and their impact on India
  2. Review Government of India’s policies on Digital India, Startup India, Aatmanirbhar Bharat and how they can be enhanced through FOSS
  3. Provide recommendations to increase usage of FOSS in education.
  4. Identify and strengthen areas of FOSS collaboration with friendly governments in critical areas like microprocessors, cyber security and other nationally important technology areas.
  5. Explore how India can participate in global open standards and open source initiatives, especially in areas deemed to be critical to India’s long term strategic interests. An example of such participation is India joining the RISC-V International consortium as Premiere Board Member to collaborate, contribute and advocate India’s expertise with other global RISC-V leaders.