Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Comments on National policy on Open Standards on E-governance

Here I am writing my comments on 3rd draft (version 2.0) of "National Policy on Open Standards for e-Governance, dated May 26, 2009"


1 Shri Shankar Aggarwal, Joint Secretary (e-Governance)
Department of Information Technology
2. Mr. Som Mittal, President, NASSCOM,
3. Vinnie Mehta, Executive Director
Manufacturers' Association for Information Technology (MAIT)

Sub : Comments on National policy on Open Standards on E-governance

Dear Sirs,

I have gone through the 3rd draft (version 2.0) of "National Policy on Open Standards for e-Governance, dated May 26, 2009" and I am enclosing my comments after reviewing it.

Para 6.1.4 -
I welcome that the policy document support "Open Standard".

    But as per para 6.1.4 - The final decision goes in the hand of "Apex Body on e-governance Standard". This can be a loop-hole where Govt of India may follow multiple standards. Policy document must enforce that the decision process

  • must be transparent and

  • "Apex Body" must give decision favoring single standard from the multiple competing standards.

Having multiple standards is not only dangerous but also a self contradictory term.

Section 6.2
In the case of Non-availability of standards, Govt of India must not adopt any of alternate standard no matter they are temporary, because of following reasons

  • The time period of alternate standard is not defined.

  • This may lead to multiple standards on time line. It would be difficult to convert data and information between two time periods. Every govt may change the standard for temporal basic and would further lead to loss of meaning standards.

  • In the digital world, standard may not always compatible with each other. For example, you cannot convert one file with closed proprietary standard into the alternate open standard. If the closed and proprietary standard got chosen for a finite time of period, It will be difficult to convert files and documents to new open standard in future. This would lead to many difficulties.

  • As per 6.2.1, 6.2.2 and 6.2.3, relaxing the mandatory conditions will dilute the whole standardization process. Standards must be "open" , "patent free" and "royalty free". All data of Govt of India belongs of public and we cannot store the data on format which is not open or royalty-free.

  • If there arise a condition where “Govt of India” is unable to find any suitable standard in a particular domain, Govt of India must initiate a process of creating a corresponding Open Standard using public reviews and RFCs.

Section 6.4
Govt of India must not support multiple standards in particular domains. There is no meaning of a having standardization process which is itself leading to more then one standard. Section 6.4 allow multiple standards. The objections are as follows:

  • Adopting multiple standards will complicate the process of “information exchange” and “conversion” from one standard to another.

  • Adopting multiple standard is as good as having no standard in place.

  • There is no limit on number of multiple standards.

Yours sincerely,

Narendra Sisodiya
Coordinator, Linux User Group of IIT Delhi
Contact - +91 - 9312166995

Click here to get its pdf file

Other links :

1) http://osindia.blogspot.com/2009/07/last-minute-dramas-around-around-open.html

2) http://lists.fosscom.in/pipermail/network-fosscom.in/2009-July/000346.html