Press Release: NCAR 2010 Inauguration

Dr Abdul Kalam Bats for Free and Open Source Model

Former President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam has called for extending the free and open source software model to other sectors of the nation in order to benefit the community at large. This alternative model is particularly required in the wake of failure of market forces and the patent model in serving the needs of the common man, he said.

Abdul Kalam made this statement while inaugurating the National Convention of Academics and Research 2010 organised by the Free Software Movement of India (FSMI) in Hyderabad today at Mahindra Satyam campus in Bahadurpally. The three day convention is being attended by over 600 academic and researcher delegates from the state and other parts of the country.

Making the inaugural address Dr. Kalam said that open source movement necessitates the participation of multiple minds and provides a platform for creativity to blossom. Citing the case of Wikipedia, he praised the model as it is the community that is developing knowledge for the consumption by the community and that too without a commercial motive. This would make the knowledge accessible to the common man.

Dr. Kalam called for taking this model to other areas particularly like health sector and safe drinking water. He praised the work of Open Source Drug Discovery project of CSIR which is trying to make drugs for tuberculosis that is taking millions of lives in India every year. He said the patent driven model for drug discovery has failed as market forces discourage pharma companies from discovering drugs that are needed in poor countries. The OSDD is an effective alternative in this regard as it would ensure that drugs are available and affordable, felt Dr. Kalam. Similar efforts in making available safe drinking water to the citizens is needed, he said and suggested forming an Open Source Initiative of Safe Drinking Water. Dr. Kalam concluded his speech by calling upon the gathering of academics and researchers to chalk out a roadmap for creating technological solutions in Water, Energy, Healthcare, Education, Agriculture, Aerospace and Defence and other critical technologies that our nation needs.

FSMI general secretary Y Kiran Chandra gave an account of the status of the free software movement in the country. In a short span of two decades, the movement has percolated everywhere and today it has reached a stage where anyone using internet is using free software. The evangelisation of free software is required further as it provides solutions for bridging the digital divide. Moreover it is a software with global standards that could be given in local languages. He said the formation of FSMI in March this year would give further fillip to the growing free software movement in the country.

West Bengal minister for Information Technology Debesh Das underlined the importance of freedom in every aspect of life, including in research. He called for orienting software products to the needs of our country and making us self-reliant.

Professor K Nageshwar, MLC and chairman of organising committee for the conference welcomed the gathering. JNTU Vice Chancellor Prof D N Reddy, Professor Gopinath of IISc, MLC and renowned educationist Chukka Ramaiah, Professors L Pratap Reddy, K S Rajan, FSMI president Joseph Thomas and Shivananda Raja, Senior Vice President, Mahindra Satyam were among those who were present on the dais.