India is well positioned to become a vibrant hub for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) innovations, due to the large number of 4G data subscribers in India, 96% of whom access the digital world via open-source based mobile operating systems (primarily Android). Some of India’s largest-government projects (including Aadhaar) and many technology start-ups have also been built using FOSS. Acknowledging the huge potential of FOSS, the Government of India had issued a Policy on Adoption of Open Source Software in 2015.
To increase awareness about the usage of FOSS in governance and Government functioning, and adoption of FOSS, a virtual roundtable discussion ‘Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in Government’ was organized by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) in collaboration with Omidyar Network India on April 22, 2021.
Speaking at the occasion, Shri Ajay Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, appraised the steps taken by MeitY like Policyfor Open Source Software in 2015 to Open Source Collaborative development of Aarogya Setu. “I am delighted to see the interest in further advancing the adoption of FOSS in Government among a wide range of Government leaders, Academia and FOSS innovators. MeitYwill continue to play a key role in this journey. We are also pleased to announce the #FOSS4GOV Innovation Challenge, which will harness the innovation potential of the FOSS community and start-ups to solve for critical issues in GovTech. More such efforts will be forthcoming.”
Making a presentation on the Potential of FOSS in India, Shri Varad Pande, Partner, Omidyar Network India, said “We see FOSS as a key component of GovTech 3.0, which is about building secure and inclusive Open Digital Ecosystems (ODEs) that harness the potential of social innovators to help solve India’s toughest problems. We are excited to see MeitY advancing the adoption of FOSS in Government in a thoughtful and strategic manner and are delighted to partner with them on this journey.”
Shri Abhishek Singh, President and CEO, NeGD and CEO, MyGov,and MD, Digital India Corporation moderated sessions wherein stakeholders shared their experiences on successful deployment of FOSS-based platforms like Aadhaar and UPI in India and highlighted best-practices and learnings for all participants. Presentations were made on successful FOSS led innovations adopted by Governments of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala as well as open source enterprise solutions. The speakers includedrepresentatives from EkStep Foundation, Samagra Governance, Civic Data Lab, International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), and Frappe Technologies (creators of ERPNext). The collaborative potential of FOSS was palpable in the discussion with FOSS community members, innovators, and academia. Representatives from State Governments shared their experiences about building tech platforms, and reflected on challenges where open source technology could be most useful.
The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology also announced a #FOSS4GOV Innovation Challenge to accelerate adoption of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) In Government. The #FOSS4GOVInnovation Challenge calls upon FOSS innovators, technology entrepreneurs and Indian Startups to submit implementable open source product innovations in CRM and ERP with possible applications for Govtech in Health, Education, Agriculture, Urban Governance etc. Participants to be eligible for incubation support, prize money, mentorship by domain experts, institutional support from eminent organizations for incubation of ideas and listing of solutions on GeM.Further details about the challenge and how to participate will be shared soon by the Ministry through MyGov and MeitY Startup Hub.
The roundtable provided a forum for eGov leaders of States, Central Ministries and Agencies to share their experiences, best practices and learnings in using FOSS in GovTech platforms and applications. Participants shared perspectives on the way forward to drive adoption of FOSS in Government, and the announcement of the #FOSS4GOV Innovation Challenge was welcomed as an important step forward in this direction.
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