Monday, February 26, 2007

Open source is key to reaching 500 million Indian children

An interesting article by Mark Rais on role of open source in making education available to the large youth population of india. And a greta initiative by CII-Shiksha.

To support more than 650,000 villages and one half billion youths who need education, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) created a nonprofit organization called Shiksha India in 2001. One of Shiksha's primary initiatives was the creation of a collaborative online Web portal, which the president of India launched in a formal ceremony last month. The new e-learning and collaboration portal uses open source technology such as Moodle, Drupal, and MediaWiki.

In my opinion the reason behind its success can be attributed to mainly: its free of cost availabilty which is big issue in regard to country like India, where population(half billion) which need attention is much higher and money involved if proprietary softwares are being used. And other important aspect which article mentions is in the ability to customize and provide products in local languages (including Hindi and Tamil) along with chosing most suited among vast available resources.
Another important issue which can be solved with open source is large scale piracy, currently software piracy laws are not so strict in india but still piracy is a getting a major issue.
"The bad side is that with so much available, a newcomer to OSS is bound to get confused about what to use." He says this is often exacerbated due to some projects being fixated on proving that their product is best.
Other than that at present, their are linux distributons like Ubuntu, which is quite user friendly and its available in many flavours. Also earlier there has also been efforts in shifting towards linux and other open source mediums like :
LIC opts for Linux
Taking Free Software to the Farmers and Fields of India
Kerala logs Microsoft out : Open source is key to reaching 500 million Indian children
Program Details for Shiksha India

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