(Sample Material) Study Kit on Current Affairs for UPSC Mains
Science and Technology: Open Source
With the Central Government’s plan to switchover to Open Source Software
(OSS) across all its departments as per a policy .decision taken last year,
let us look into various aspects of OSS.
The Central Government’s decision to go for’ open source alternative
entails substantial savings in software purchases.
The Government’s. cumulative IT spending is estimated at $66.98 billion
(around Rs 4.17 lakh crore) in 2015, according to the Ministry of
Communications and IT, which has based this estimate on various global IT
research and advisory forecasts.
As per NASSCOM’s Data Security Council ‘of India, average spend on cyber
security is about 2 to 3 per cent of the total IT spending at about $1.5 to
With about 15-20 per cent, of the government’s IT spending comprising of
closed software, shifting to open software would help the government save a
lot of money.
Doubts on Efficiency and Security
The source code of open software is publicly accessible, which can be
modified by anyone: This raises questions pertaining to security and
Question about the efficiency of open source software is largely a
perception issue. While most people think that closed software work better
because large companies are behind them, there are good alternatives to most
commercial software and they come at a far cheaper cost.
To use OSS first
Educational institutes should be the first places to use open source
extensively. Institutes that are operating closed software are generating
talent that is too dependent on commercial software.
It’s very important to create an environment where open-source talent
can come out of these institutes. Open source can aIlow things to be done in
a much faster manner and it’s also cheaper.
Using such software in government departments is good but using these in
educational institutes is even better.
Cause of Concern
Open source can work in India only when a strong ‘support system is
developed. There are some OSSS which are backed by strong user communities
but there are others with less competent communities behind them.
If software is not backed by a strong community then there might be some
vulnerability which might not be fixed. With no regulation governing these
kinds of software using open source in government departments might be a,
It is thought that, as OSS is available, to the public’ easily these are
vulnerable to hacking by malicious users. But it’s the opposite actually.
As the source code is openly available more people are likely to work on
such software and fix the vulnerabilities. It’s more difficult to hack into
open source software than proprietary software.
One of the first organisations to adopt open source were the US military
forces. They did so because they believed that this was a more secure
In open source users have access to the algorithm that makes it work,
but no one has access to the encryption key or the set of numbers that’ act
as a password. Without, that’ password it’s impossible to hack into these.
Big institutes like IITs and IIMs have started using open source but a
lot more can still be done. Many institutes, especially schools across many
states in the country have not been able to adopt this software because
there is no serious policy backing them.
As a result they are left with no option but to go with commercial
vendors for closed software.