than use “bugged” Western systems.
The Indian government is still intent on developing its own operating
system so it can own the source code and architecture rather than rely
on Western technologies.
Dr V K Saraswat, scientific adviser to India’s Defence Research and
Development Organisation (DRDO) said that the Indian OS is needed to
protect India’s economic framework. While we admire India’s decision
to write its own OS, the decision seems to be driven by paranoia about
Saraswat said earlier this month that Western hardware and software are
likely to be “bugged”. By bugged, he doesn’t mean that Windows is chock
full of unsecure hackable exploits. Saraswat specifically thinks that
our technology is bugged so we can spy on India.
“Unfortunately even today we import most of these items. They are coming
from various countries. So there is possibility that these hardware
parts are already bugged,” said Saraswat.
“So we have started doing design and development
of our own hardware. We are trying to build it in our own country,” he
Aside from overseeing development of the OS, Saraswat’s main role is
looking after India’s missile defence system, so paranoia and security
are second nature. At the time Saraswat made the OS announcement, The
INQUIRER reported that the Indian government had been leaning on RIM so
it could access communications on Blackberry smartphones.
The concerns about Western expansionism and spying are clear. But
lumping open source technology with closed source software systems is
surprising, given the popularity of open source projects in India.
In 2008 free software founder, Richard Stallman
popped over to India to see a new Indian open source operating system
called E-Swecha being rolled out in educational faculties. The project
was overseen by the Free Software Foundation of India, but Stallman said
the government wasn’t chipping in.
India also has another, bigger open source OS that it built up from
Debian Linux. This year, the Centre for Development of Advanced
Computing developed Bharat Operating System Solutions (BOSS), a
GNU/Linux distribution with advanced server features.
Unfortunately, India didn’t want to use BOSS as a foundation to roll
out a nationwide government stamped OS. Instead, it’s sticking to
designing something from scratch with 50 scientists and IT specialists
located in New Delhi and Bangalore spearheading a national effort to
create the OS.
As we’ve said, we have nothing but respect for India’s attempt to
control its own technological destiny. But, if its products,
specifically its OS, are developed out of a culture of paranoia and
fear, then everything we have to offer gets tarred with the same brush.
The philosophies behind closed and open source software aren’t even in
the same postcode. Despite that, it seems that India is unwisely denying
itself access to the benefits that open source technologies can