Indian Government Promoting Monopoly in Software Industry

Indian Government Promoting Monopoly in Software Industry

 

PRESS RELEASE
 
It has come to our notice that several web sites of government of India agencies mandate the use of pieces of proprietary software such as Microsoft Excel. For instance, the website of the ministry of corporate affairs of the Government of India, namely, http://iepf.gov.in/IEPF/services.html,  that allow companies to submit information regarding unclaimed and unpaid money to investors demands that the company uses a particular piece of software created and marketed by a company, namely, Microsoft Excel.
 
In the page, it says under the heading, “Steps sequentially to file statement of investor-wise unclaimed and unpaid amounts”, that the first step is to “Install the Pre-requisite Software’s to proceed. To know and install the same click on ‘Prerequisite Software’ link”. The prerequisite software includes the following components:
 
 MS Office (97 and above)
 
Microsoft Office XP Web Services Toolkit 2.0.  Click here to download (linked to http://iepf.gov.in/IEPF/pdf/setup.zip)
 
We wish to point out that this government department apparently is behaving like the marketing agency of the particular company whose prodeuct it is forcing people to buy and use. They even provide the setup file! Let us point out that there are several similar pieces of software, both commercial and freely available. By specifying a particular one among them, the government is forcing companies to use that alone and no other, which could easily have been avoided by specifying a free and open format, such as odf or plain text, which can be created using any piece of software. In fact, if the government necessarily has to specify a particular piece of software, it could have been one of the Free and Open Source Software suites such as Libre Office. This is a product of community effort and is available for download free of cost too. Most importantly, it uses open formats that can be deciphered by anyone with the knowledge of the programming language, unlike proprietary formats used by commercial software companies such as Microsoft, which are kept secret by them. As we have done earlier also, let us again point out the dangers of storing documents, especially government documents, in proprietary formats that are secret and known to a private company alone. Such companies have withdrawn support for some of their products in the past and will do so in the future too, leaving us and other users with no easy way to read those documents created using their software.
 
Let us also point out that this web page prominently says at the top:
“Investor Education and Protection Fund – Empowering Business, Protecting Investors”
But this practice of forcing companies to buy proprietary software products to furnish mandatory returns to the government goes directly against this moto.
Another such example is from http://acesdownload.nic.in/. Here they do not provide the link to the software, but provide documents in proprietary formats that require Microsoft software to open. The user is expected to open these documents and use them to submit their Central Excise and Service Tax Returns. This again forces the user to purchase the products of Microsoft.
 
We had pointed out earlier the fallacy involved in using proprietary software and proprietary document formats. In fact, the government policy on e-governance states that free and open formats should be used for all documents. Thus, these web sites go directly against the government policy. It is only natural if someone suspects the vested interest of some individual or group in specifying such proprietary software for public purposes. We urge the government departments concerned to change the specified software and suggest pieces of software that use Free and Open document formats such as odf. The specified links  to Microsoft Excel and to documents created using MS Office documents could easily be substituted with Libre Office Calc and documents created with Libre Office suite.

 
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Free Software Foundation founder and president Richard Stallman was inducted into the 2013 Internet Hall of Fame!

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Free Software Foundation founder and president Richard Stallman was inducted into the 2013 Internet Hall of Fame!

He joins other visionaries like Aaron Swartz, Jimmy Wales, and John Perry Barlow, who have all made significant contributions to the advancement of the global Internet. The Internet Hall of Fame inducted Stallman for his contributions as creator of the GNU Project, main author of the GNU General Public License, and his philosophical contributions as founder of the free software movement. Richard has been named an Innovator, a category which recognizes and celebrates individuals who made outstanding technological, commercial, or policy advances and helped to expand the Internet’’s reach.

The future of a troubled Internet was on Richard’s mind as he learned of his induction. He says, “Now that we have made the Internet work, the next task is to stop it from being a platform for massive surveillance, and make it work in a way that respects human rights, including privacy.”

We at the FSF are working hard to stop NSA surveillance, protect the free Internet from DRM, and develop replacements for network services that spy on their users, but we need your support to achieve these goals.

Help us further this vision by becoming a member of the Free Software Foundation or volunteering today.

Nearly 30 years after he first published the GNU Manifesto (stay tuned for coming September celebration plans), Richard Stallman’s ideas have spread the world over. Thanks to the support of people like you, the free software movement continues to grow. Please join us in congratulating Richard and all of the other 2013 inductees to the Internet Hall of Fame by sharing this message.

To read this message online, visit https://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/richard-stallman-becomes-a-hall-of-famer.

http://www.internethalloffame.org/

 

Git workshop organised by Women in Free Software India

 

 

Git Workshop

 

Date: 15th June
Venue: #wfs-india channel on freenode
Time: 6:30pm to 8:30pm IST
Registration: http://www.wfs-india.org/form/registration-form-git-workshop-june-15-2013

Git is, technically speaking, the most advanced version control system on earth right now. However this does not itself justify why everybody should learn it. The real value of git is that it has taken collaboration to a new level. Just like social media has made friendship cross barriers of space, git has helped developers work together across continents. Git is the backbone of developers working on huge projects like the Linux kernel. Git is also the choice of countless designers and can be used by visual artists and authors as well.

This amazing tool costs nothing — it is free.

Free to use and to modify as well (courtesy GNU-GPL V2). Nobody can stop you from becoming an expert in git.

Get started with Git through our workshop.

Registration

Wannabe participants please fill out the registration form for the Git Workshop.

Rails Girls Summer of Code helps Rails Girls students get into Open Source.

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Just like in Google Summer of Code and Ruby Summer of Code, students
will be paid so they’re free to work on Open Source projects for a few
months. Unlike those programs, the Rails Girls Summer of Code is about
helping students to further expand their knowledge and skills by
contributing to a great Open Source project (rather than producing
highly sophisticated code).

 

 

Projects

The ideal project for the Rails Girls Summer of Code defines a goal that:

  • can be considered a valuable, significant contribution
  • is simple enough that a beginner will be able to complete it in a time frame of three months or less

A project goal can include anything that helps you: Bug fixing, implementing small features, documentation, design, etc. Anything that allows the student to both apply her experience and grow with the challenge.

Also, the goal can consist of several sub-goals or follow-up goals that can be adjusted to the progress of the student. Coming up with a good definition might be hard, taking into account that the student’s skills are not yet advanced. Don’t be discouraged by that. We will work together with you in order to figure out a definition that works well.

To start defining your goal, ask yourself:

What can be done to help a Ruby newcomer become a core contributor on your project? Also, consider this to be a learning target. Different from GSoC or RSoC the Rails Girls Summer of Code is about encouraging, motivating, helping newcomers to learn and eventually provide valuable, significant contributions.

Projects will be asked to provide a mentor, who will act as experts in the project’s domain, and provide feedback and direction. In their day-to-day work students will supported by coaches (developers based in the same city as the student, helping them to accomplish their tasks), so the workload for a mentor is limited.

 

 

http://railsgirlssummerofcode.org/projects/