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Press Release

With the elections to the Parliament nearing, the main political parties in the country have started announcing their manifestos. It is heartening to see that the CPI(M) and BJP have included references to Free Software (FS) in their manifestos. CPI(M) has generally been supportive of Free Software and has helped in the campaign against software patents. FSF India is thankful to them for their help. BJP's support for FS is recent, and we are happy that the second largest party in India has decided to support FS.

We believe that any responsible political party should promote Free Software in their country. The benefits it provides to society in terms of freedom to adapt it to the requirements of society and the economic benefits it gives would be ample justification especially in a developing country like India. We wish to record our appreciation for the decision of these political parties to declare their support for Free Software and for freedom of knowledge in general. We also appeal to all the other political parties to support Free Software Movement and bring its benefits to the people of our country. The fact that Free software has received broad support across the political spectrum from the far left to the far right, is ample evidence for the relevance of the Free Software movement in our country.

At the same time, we have been hoping that the parties would clearly state their support for implementing major national IT initiatives (including e-governance and IT enabled education) using only Free Software, and for using only open standards for documents. We appeal to all political parties to adopt a policy that promotes the use of Free Software for all purposes and the use of only open standards for documents created by or submitted to the government or its agencies.

We believe that the use of proprietary software is a problem and not a solution to any problem. It can lead to dependency on the software companies and helplessness in adapting the software to our use. Similarly, the use of proprietary formats for documents of the government could ultimately lead to problems in even opening the documents. We, therefore, believe that all political parties with the interest of the country in mind should adopt a policy that favors Free Software and open standards.

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