Indian opposition party backs open source software

Large Indian opposition party says will standardize on open source software for government if elected.

India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Saturday ahead of parliamentary elections in the country that the national government will standardize on open standards and open source software if the party is elected to power.

The BJP is a leading opposition party in India's parliament, and is using online advertising and its own Web site as key elements of its campaign strategy for the elections that start next month.

The party's promise to standardize on open source is a departure from the party's earlier policy not to take sides with either open source or proprietary software, leaving these decisions to individual government agencies.

The party ruled the country from October 1999 to May 2004. The subsequent United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government also continued with the hands-off policy on selection of open source or proprietary software.

Some state governments, however, have programs around open-source software.

An "IT Vision Document" released by the BJP on Saturday also proposes a Multipurpose National Identity Card (MNIC) with a unique Citizen Identification Number (CIN) for every Indian citizen in three years. The cards will replace all other identification systems, the party said.

BJP also plans to distribute laptop computers at Indian Rupees 10,000 (US$200) to 10 million students, with interest-free loans offered to students who can't afford a one-time payment.

It has also promised to create 12 million call center and business process outsourcing (BPO) jobs in India's rural areas. The outsourcing boom in India has not reached India's rural areas, prompting large scale migration of people from villages to cities.

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John Ribeiro

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