This is a read-only archive. Find the latest Linux articles, documentation, and answers at the new Linux.com!

Linux.com

Feature: News

Indian political party turns to FOSS

By Marco Fioretti on October 20, 2008 (9:00:00 PM)

Share    Print    Comments   

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is India's largest political party, with around 20 million Ordinary Members and about 4 million Active Members. In June, BJP announced its goal to become one of the most high-tech political parties in the next two years, and free and open source software (FOSS) will play an essential role in this project.

BJP says it plans to implement Wi-Fi connectivity in all its headquarters plus nationwide IP video telephony and unified messaging networks. It expects IP telephony should greatly reduce phone bills, and the videophones the party plans to use cost much less than full computers -- 14,500 rupees (about $315) versus 30,000 rupees (about $650). Video telephony and seamless integration of fax, voice mail, and email would enable BJP leaders to send instructions to remote offices and know how they were executed much more quickly than in the past. BJP also plans to be the first Indian political party to have its own Web connectivity between headquarters and state units, with about 100 caching servers to speed up access to its 36 official Web sites.

In addition to cost and efficiency, another reason BJP wants to go digital is politics, in the broadest sense of the word. It aims to give its members and potential voters a modern, dynamic image. BJP leader Shri Lal Krishna Advani recently discovered that "one way of connecting to Young India is via the Web," and BJP President Shri Rajnath Singh says, "Unbiased and unfiltered feedback from the frontlines needs to flow up to the party leadership. I expect modern communication tools to facilitate such a dialogue."

List of software programs used by BJP
Function Chosen software
Server Virtualization OpenVZ and Vtonf
Router + Firewall + VPN Vyatta
Unified Threat Management Untangle
HTTP Accelerator Varnish
Proxy Server Squid
Digital Repository ePrints
Email Qmail, Courier Imap and Squirrelmail
Instant Messaging OpenFire plus Spark
Video and Voice Telephony Asterisk, Hylafax
Mailing List Ezmlm
Security Camera Management ZoneMinder
Identity Management Fedora Directory Server
Web Content Management Joomla!
Remote WAN-based Backup VZDump and rSync
Storage Area Network OpenFiler
Network Management Zenoss

How will all this happen? Prodyut Bora, national convenor of BJP information technology cell, says, "We have found that it is possible to create an entire enterprise IT ecosystem using only FOSS." He says BJP plans to use CentOS as its server operating system and Ubuntu on desktops, along with many enterprise and infrastructure applications (see table). ePrints, for example, is used as internal document library, to build a BJP version of the MSDN Library. The choice of Qmail as mail transport agent is due to the fact that the IT cell staff believe in core competency and, as Bora says after a nine-month trial without any problem, "Qmail does exceedingly well what it is supposed to do: transfer mails".

At the time of this writing, BJP has only five Ubuntu desktops. They are part of a three-month pilot project that is almost over, after which Ubuntu will become the standard BJP desktop. However, almost everybody in the four offices in the National Capital Region (NCR) already uses some FOSS. Bora says he and his staff deliberately implement new applications in a way that users are almost oblivious of the change, in order to have as little resistance as possible. Most BJP employees, for example, aren't aware that the telephony systems have moved to Asterisk. The Ubuntu boxes used in the desktop pilot program all had a Windows XP look and feel, so the only comment, from one user, was "no big deal, it is the same as Windows XP." Bora considers that the biggest compliment they could have received. "Sometimes, the best change is when you don't feel any change at all."

At the same time, Bora points out that keeping users happy, or at least oblivious to change, didn't come for free. The IT cell was unhappy with the user interface of almost all the software they chose and had to make "major customizations" to them, though they left the back ends mostly untouched. According to Bora, "One of the biggest problems in using FOSS is that most user interfaces are atrociously bad."

Two examples he gave are SquirrelMail and ePrints. Both are great pieces of software, Bora says, but SquirrelMail looks like it belongs to a previous century when he compares it to Ajax-based webmail services like Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. The problem with ePrints is that its developers forgot the "rule of three" -- whatever you want should be available in three clicks -- so the IT cell customized it to be as user-friendly as MSDN Library. These and other software modifications aren't stable or well-documented enough yet for usage outside BJP, but Bora says the IT cell intends to release them to the community in the near future.

What about the rest of India?

People in the BJP IT cell all believe that promoting open source and open standards is an imperative for India. The large-scale FOSS deployment by the party, however, is just an internal decision of BJP, since the party doesn't have yet an official position on digital technologies. Nevertheless, the fact that such a big party is going to rely on FOSS for its internal and external communications will certainly make noise inside the Indian FOSS community. This plan will increase expectations that, sooner or later, BJP will make some official proposal that all of the country take advantage of the same technologies.

Some in the Indian FOSS community doubt that will happen. Sasi Kumar of FSF-India says, "As far as I know, BJP has not taken any particularly interesting move towards FOSS, nor there have been contacts or discussions between FSF India and BJP on these matters or about our struggle against software patents. Generally speaking, FSF India has no political connections or inclinations, but we will accept support from any political party without any commitment. We're happy to hear that BJP has found Free Software so good to build its whole ICT infrastructure with it; of course, we also hope that BJP will officially suggest the same for all Indian schools and public administrations!"

Marco Fioretti is the author of The Family Guide to Digital Freedom and contributes regularly to Linux.com and other IT magazines.

Share    Print    Comments   

Comments

on Indian political party turns to FOSS

Note: Comments are owned by the poster. We are not responsible for their content.

Indian political party turns to FOSS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 198.74.13.100] on October 21, 2008 04:23 PM
The Author needs to be aware: Please research whatever I've said in this post on your own.

The BJP started out as a far right wing Hindu organization by preaching hate against Muslims in India and other minorities.

These days they claim to be center-right, but it does not change the fact their spiritual mentors are ultra-right organizations like the RSS and VHP.
All these organizations have been responsible for many attacks on minorities and other intolerant activities. Please note that Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujrat province, where thousands of Muslims were killed under his DIRECT supervision, is a BJP leader and has never been punished.

This is not an endorsement of other political parties in India, as they are guilty of other crimes. This does not pardon or condone similar activities by similar minority organizations.

The point of this post is, anyone can use FOSS software. It is not a matter of pride or a "good thing" when organizations like the BJP use it. And it does not deserve an article on this respectable web site.

#

Re: Indian political party turns to FOSS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 218.186.12.8] on October 21, 2008 06:26 PM
It is true that BJP as a political party has never so far managed to get the support of large numbers of muslims of India. The muslim population in India forms a significantly large vote-bank. The Congress party has traditionally been doing a better job of harnessing the muslim vote. In fact, Congress's strategy has been to keep the polarization alive and monopolize the muslim vote. In the past, the BJP has had very scattered muslim support -- just one muslim MP in the Lok Sabha (House of the People), Shahnawaz Husain, who later ailed to win even the muslim vote, to cite an instance.

However, things are changing for the BJP. Read this: http://www.anindianmuslim.com/2008/04/when-burqa-gets-saffron-band-bjp-and.html
It describes how more muslims have been joining BJP, this is an Indian Muslim's Blog and shows pictures of muslim women at a BJP conference.

Anyway FOSS is color blind to politics and religion, and it should remain that way. The reason I am posting this comment is to show that the previous post had a very Congress-like spin on the matter. Let readers judge, if they care ! Else, let us get back to FOSS discussions. In either case I do not think that any free and open discussion will make this "repectable web site" any less respectable, as the previous poster claims.

#

Re(1): Indian political party turns to FOSS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 198.74.13.100] on October 21, 2008 08:26 PM
Congress like spin? I can give you a laundry list of Congress crimes, and pussy footing with Muslim "sensibilities" is certainly one of them.

That does not make the BJP any less despicable than the congress. The article also mentions LK Advani, who was the architect of the Babri masjid riots. (Remember his speeches on TV).

If you are one of those who feels the BJP is somehow "better" than the pathetic Congress, simply because some muslims have joined them, I feel sorry for you. And India.

#

Re: Indian political party turns to FOSS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 59.178.162.238] on October 21, 2008 10:04 PM
These replies must be struck out
its ridiculous,really is
what does anti islam have to do with open source
nothing
get a life

#

Re: Indian political party turns to FOSS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 15.219.201.68] on October 22, 2008 07:21 AM
Moslems are killing everywhere...BJP did the right thing ( if they have done so) by killing 7th century beduine ( Muhammed) followers....It is cancer to humanity...

#

Re: Indian political party turns to FOSS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 125.17.147.69] on October 24, 2008 04:47 AM
are you the responsible citizen of india or a educated fool who based on media reports makind such reports.
have you ever attended RSS shaka, please attened it and you will get to know who is doing what?

just making statements is same on you.

#

Re: Indian political party turns to FOSS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 202.45.115.167] on October 27, 2008 12:40 AM
Terrorists (muslims) please don't put your hatred against other (non muslim) religion here.

Please visit Afghan and/or Pakistan blog for that.

Thanks.

#

Re: Indian political party turns to FOSS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 207.112.91.20] on October 27, 2008 02:49 AM
Fuck OFF guy, and make sure you FLUSH your dirty brain

#

Re: Indian political party turns to FOSS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 207.112.91.20] on October 27, 2008 02:52 AM
Narendra Modi has provided the Pest Control service, you already know about it.

#

Fear and fundamentalism in India - (With the approval of the Indian Govt)

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.191.209.150] on October 21, 2008 07:45 PM
The Indian government, a Hindu dominated government, is readily willing to accept the outsourcing dollars and euros while allowing the continued atrocities against christians or those accepting of western religions or ideals.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7672228.stm

http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/?rn=3906861&cl=10235280&ch=4226714&src=news

While I do agree that FOSS is color blind to religion and politics, I have reservations against a published article for a political party and country that continues to support such atrocities via their inactions to halt such.

#

Re: Fear and fundamentalism in India - (With the approval of the Indian Govt)

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 79.65.157.12] on October 21, 2008 09:44 PM
I was about to ignore this article (which is what is deserved) when this comment caught my eye. I am just appalled by its tone and implications.

<disclaimer> I am an atheist. I do not condone any discrimination against people, least of all religious discrimination </disclaimer>

1. Hindus are the majority in India. To describe the Indian government as Hindu dominated is like saying the American or the British government is Christian dominated. So if they are biased, so is every government in the world.
2. The western media is very much biased in reporting the attacks against minorities. Christian atrocities against Hindus are pretty much unreported. Not surprising considering the Christian bias.
3. Discrimination against minorities is pretty much universal. Are you seriously claiming that there is no discrimination or racial bias in the enlightened west? (discimination against immigrants in UK and USA, treatment of romanians in italy, treatment of immigrants in greece, problems in georgia..).These terrible events reflect much upon as a species rather than anything else. Do you hold serious reservations against every party and country with similar problems or are christian lives somehow more important than non-christian lives?
4. Religious violence in India has a long and complicated history. Hinduism of the old has been a non-proselytizing religion. When confronted by the aggressive proselytism of Abrahamic religions funded by Saudi dinars and American dollars, social tensions were bound to rise. Especially so, since the introduction of these religions was accompanied by conquest, colonializaton and blood shed.
5. There are no easy solutions to social issues. The "enlightened and civilized" west are as much at a loss as the "barbaric" east. Singling out an entire country and its people is hypocrisy.

All these issues are irrelevant to FOSS. If you disagree with the BJP all you had to do was to drop a small note that the article is irrelevant. Please keep your hypocrisy to yourself.

#

Re(1): Fear and fundamentalism in India - (With the approval of the Indian Govt)

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 124.125.151.222] on October 22, 2008 12:03 AM
This reply nullifies the religious and biased overtones of all the rest of the comments.

I think that the authors aim was to highlight the fact that it would be benificial to FOSS and the people of India, if it was used by them. The political party using it is just to exemplify its utility, flexibility and efficiency. The fact that it is going to be used on a large scale by a large organization, is to convince the people who might be skeptical about it or haven't heard about it, of its efficiency. As usual the main aim of the article has been twisted by twisted minds.

I think it is a wonderful article. I had never heard of FOSS before. Now I know what it is.

#

Re(1): Fear and fundamentalism in India - (With the approval of the Indian Govt)

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 217.204.71.130] on October 24, 2008 09:11 AM
This is probably the most level headed comment I have see so far.

#

Indian political party turns to FOSS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 122.162.97.208] on October 21, 2008 08:18 PM
BJP is not the largest party in India. This article is not news worthy.

#

Re: Indian political party turns to FOSS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 218.186.12.8] on October 22, 2008 03:49 AM
Wrong.

1. The article is news worthy, because it talks about the application of FOSS in a certain segment.
2. BJP is the largest political party in India, according to the (UK based) INTUTE Social Sciences website: http://www.intute.ac.uk/socialsciences/cgi-bin/fullrecord.pl?handle=sosig886163631-26381

Guess what, some other political parties in India are also FOSS users, including some Communist parties !

(Yes, the USSR has collapsed and China has turned capitalist, but Communist parties linger on in India. Proof of India's tolerance, or backwardness ? I think the socialists are back in the Anglo-Saxon economies wearing business suits and calling for bank nationalization. Oh what a confusing world we live in !).

#

Indian political party turns to FOSS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.168.1.24] on October 22, 2008 05:53 AM
Article is good one and it is just a news.No need to mix other thing with the article.This is not a political party blaming forum.While posting comment this should be taken in to consideration.

#

Indian political party turns to FOSS

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.108.244.86] on October 26, 2008 09:49 PM
Both are great pieces of software, Bora says, but SquirrelMail looks like it belongs to a previous century when he compares it to Ajax-based webmail services like Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. http://www.exfn.com Daily News Technology Health Science Nature and Entertainment. All these organizations have been responsible for many attacks on minorities and other intolerant activities. Please note that Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujrat province, where thousands of Muslims were killed under his DIRECT supervision, is a BJP leader and has never been punished.

#

This story has been archived. Comments can no longer be posted.



 
Tableless layout Validate XHTML 1.0 Strict Validate CSS Powered by Xaraya