How Indian Government deals with Technology

This article illustrates some examples of how the Indian government deals with (Information) Technology.
Some of these projects are unheard of while some generated unnecessary hype.

  1. CDAC’s Indian Language Software and font CD
    I got a copy of it within the first few months of its release, turned out to be full of semi-polished unusable software where you have to learn weird key-mapping to type[why not use transliteration instead]. Some of the software even used non-Unicode formatting[why is non-Unicode bad].
    Suggestion: Why not make good regional language Unicode-based fonts? [which are the prime reason for non-adoption of  Unicode in India as explained here
  2. ISRO’s Bhuvan
    With minimum system requirements much more than that of Google Earth, being based on age-old insecure ActiveX technology,  only available for Internet Explorer users, having unnecessary registration requirement and an ill-maintained and slow website. It never really took off.
    Suggestion: If ISRO has better [and finer] views of India than Google Earth than they should contribute them back to Google Earth unless ISRO can really make their software as usable as Google Earth
      ISRO Bhuvan is now a web application, just like Google Maps.
  3. Sibal’s 35$ tablet
    Interestingly, the report says that PCB was fabricated by IIT Kanpur PCB Lab, never heard of this project going on in IIT Kanpur[I was in IIT Kanpur till summer of 2010, I was aware of nano-satellite, lunar rover and Boeing project, though].
    Also, the report has an emphasis on how many different formats can be read with no details of the hardware. Is it really designed in India or made by Hivision Speedpad repackaged as if its made by premier institutes of India?
    And when IIT Rajasthan is doing “extensive field and laboratory tests“, something looks fishy for sure.
    (Readers pelease note that IIT Rajasthan was established in 2008, was running inside IIT Kanpur campus till recently and now running at MBM Engineering College, Ratanada, Jodhpur.)
    On a side note: The report also mentions about NPTEL videos which is pretty much useless in most of rural India due to poor last-mile connectivity and bandwidth issues, but it was at least partially successful wherever the bandwidth was available)
    Suggestion: Stop making such weird claims better buy a lot of old (new and second-hand) laptops (~100-200$) and distribute them to children. (yeah, I know the deal does not look attractive but it is realistic) 
  4. Boss (Bharat Operating System)
    Linux distribution developed (or repackaged?) by NRCFOSS , even endorsed by media, but what is special about it from a user’s perspective?
    It looks like it is just a repackaged version of software from GNU/Linux repository, you can make yours here.
    To make matters worst, There is no public code versioning system for BOSS[as discussed on Chennai LUG]  which imply that practically no FOSS developer can contribute to the codebase.
    Suggestion: Contribute to localizing a popular release like Ubuntu rather than repackaging existing stuff. 
  5. DRDO’s operating system
    There are many gaps in our software areas; particularly we don’t have our own operating system,” said Saraswat, Director General of DRDO and Secretary, Defence R & D [source]
    But wasn’t BOSS released just a few months ago? never mind, infact, read further “[for your own operating system] source code is with you and then nobody knows what’s that“, now anyone with basic knowledge of security will call this security through obsecurity which never works.
    Suggestion: Please verify the claims.

  6. India’s own processor chip [Zerone Corp.]
    The same security argument was given to develop India’s own processor, criticized by EETimes, never heard about this processor again.
    But DRDO has ANUPAMA from ANURAG labs , isnt this a general purpose processor?
    Suggestion: If the government is really worried about processor chips from international companies, they can manufacture their own processor around OpenSPARC core but why spent effort on reinventing the wheel.

Disclaimer:

  1. This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.
  2. The article is only about the Indian government(and public sector companies), it in no way reflects any negative views towards private sector companies in India.

6 Replies to “How Indian Government deals with Technology”

  1. Nice post. I agree.

    There are certainly two problems: Firstly they come up with technically crippled product, and secondly Indian media gives flashy coverage, trying to attract geeks to test it.

    Projects #2 & #3 are actually made in manner that people will use it with better internet access. It will just not work in current scene. Software development is kind of really complex work, and I think Govt. should try avoiding putting money (and time?) into it. Why don’t they better provide a robust network (req. by Web 2.0 apps)? This is seriously required by current ecosystem of IT.

  2. @Anurag: There is something similiar in USA [app for america]. USA provides the data and dev make apps to use it.

  3. @Rahul:
    1) I wrote about “what comes out” not “what goes on inside”
    2) None of my example is from hardcore manufacturing infact four are about pure software projects [other two are software+hardware mix]
    3) Its not about establishing silicon valley [I have given my suggestions alongwith each illustration, in case you find any of them is wrong, you are welcome to comment]
    4) I did not say moon landing is a failure [infact, most illustrations which I talked about belong to “hi-tech” or “info tech” sector which I follow], since you have mentioned I will read about INSAS guns for sure.
    5) I did not make the last statement in a negative manner but it was meant to isolate my views on the Indian private sector [which are still unpublished :)].

  4. I don’t want to say anything particular about some project but in general about DRDO. Work really happen there, if not as the same pace as in private companies but you can’t put weekly or monthly targets on research work. I have seen people working for 30 years in DRDO and for them work is everything even above social obligations, I have seen people reading new research work and books related to their fields when only 3-4 years are left in their retirement.
    And working there is not so simple, have to depend on foreign companies for ICs, and lot of advanced tech like laser seekers. These are just few examples i know, but i’m sure every advanced project involves one or two components not manufactured in India. Now Govt can’t set up Silicon Valley just for these projects, we all know manufacturing is one field we are still behind and it all depends on Private sector.

    Now i’m not on anyone’s side, i also accept that there are some people who know that they can’t be sacked and only thing that can happen is delayed promotion which results in less professional environment.

    But overall things are changing for better and we should not discourage people who are working in half the pay they will get for same work in private sector (and i have example to support it!!!)

    How about writing something about INSAS gun which is at par and even better than guns all over the world or about MBT tanks which were found successful and better than T-90 of Russia. There was a time when we were doing reverse engineering but now we are attempting to build more advanced weapons.

    ISRO started after first Moon landing and within such a short period we are now sending satellites of other countries in space and earning. Projects fail or get delayed but this is what research is all about.

    “The article is only about Indian government(and public sector companies), it in no way reflects any negative views towards private sector companies in India.”

    This statement is so negative.

  5. […] « How Indian Government deals with Technology […]

  6. […] bit of history I wrote about this tablet in 2010 (even before it was named Aakash). Few things have changed since then, they have dropped the name […]

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