Centre for Internet & Society

The Government of India has implemented a remarkable new policy-level change for open source software (OSS) deployment.


The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has asked that open source software-based applications be included in Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for all new procurements. Note there is not a plan at this time to replace existing proprietary systems with open source software.

As stated, the policy will "adopt open standards and promote open source and open technologies" in order "to prepare India for a knowledge based transformation into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy."

Three major objectives of the new policy for OSS:

  • To provide a policy framework for rapid and effective adoption of OSS
  • To ensure strategic control in e-Governance applications and systems from a long-term perspective
  • To reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of projects

In addition to adopting open source and open standards, the Indian Government is also emphasizing on opening up the source code without any royalty for the community to use, modify and redistribute the original/modified software. This is compliant with the Creative Commons (CC) licenses.

Proprietary software (labeled as "closed source software" and "CSS" in the policy document) would only be permitted for demonstrated urgent/strategic need or lack of expertise or non-availability of open source software. The suppliers then are not bound to use open source software, though it is preferred over proprietary per this policy change. The policy document also mentions government collaborating with local and international open source communities for software development

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