Press Release: NCAR 2010 Concludes

Increase Use of Free Software in Teaching and Research - NCAR 2010 Concludes

The National Convention of Academics and Research 2010 called for concerted effort to introduce the use of free software in both teaching and research. It has also underlined the need of community building amongst academics and researchers in order to have socially relevant research.

The three day national convention ended with the unanimous adoption of a declaration that gave this call. The convention was attended by 550 academics and researchers from all over the country. There were in all 21 sessions and 11 tutorials covering various domains in academics and research during the three days. Eminent personalities in their respective domains came as speakers for these sessions from across the country.

The declaration of the national convention noted that the teachers are very desirous of using free software but the current model is friendly neither to the needs of the teachers nor for the use of free software. It called for sensitising bodies such as AICTE, UGC to the need for popularizing free software in education and research.

The chief guest in the concluding session of the conference, Professor K Nageshwar, MLC and academician, stressed the need to launch a big movement for democratising cyberspace, software and knowledge in general. Saying that the attempts to monopolise knowledge and science by few are part of civilisational history, the MLC felt they have only increased in intensity now due to rapid technological advances. He called for waging another freedom struggle, this time in cyberspace, against appropriation of technology by few. This is required for the benefit of society at large as the digital inequalities would also lead to social and economic inequalities.

FSMI president Thomas Joseph in his brief address asked the academics and researchers assembled in the convention to spread the word about using free software and empowering themselves, and enriching the society in the process. FSMI general secretary Y Kiran Chandra, Swecha working chairman L Pratap Reddy, Convention Organising Committee working general secretary Professor K S Rajan, Major General Bagga of IIIT Hyderabad and others spoke on the occasion.

Earlier, in a session on E-governance and Open source policy, the speakers felt that e-governance is an appropriate tool for taking governance to the common man. The uniqueness of open standards policy, which has won laurels across the world is its 'single and royalty free' nature. However, the plan for implementation  of the policy is in its formative stage and lot of challenges lie ahead just like in many other progressive policies. The session was chaired by Ms Anjana Sinha and addressed by Venkatesh Hariharan, Director, Red Hat, Dr Bala from NIC, Dr Madhav Kumar from Institute of E-Governance, Govt of AP.

In a session on 'Legal Aspects of FOSS', Professor Madabhushi Sreedhar of NALSAR University, called for expanding of public domain for knowledge so that more people will have access to knowledge. He felt the right to life itself is under threat due to the commercialisation of intellectual property. He also felt that privacy, secrecy, patent and copyright are an
anti-thesis to the right to information. Another speaker, Prashant Sugathan of Software Freedom Law Centre felt that all the litigation between companies on software patents is a wasteful exercise and that it benefits only a few top companies. He criticised firms for being a menace by amassing patents.