Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Kerala logs Microsoft out of schools

An old news I just read today.. really happy.. we need a govt which can do this...
George Iype in Kochi

September 02, 2006

The Communist Party of India (Marxists)-led government in Kerala headed by
Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan is not just against American cola majors --
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo -- alone.

Nearly three weeks after the Achuthanandan government banned the sale and
manufacture of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products in Kerala, Microsoft has been
logged out of the state-run schools.

Here on, nearly 1.5 million students in the 2,650 government and
government-aided high schools in the state will no longer use the Windows
platform for computer education. Instead, they have switched over to the
free GNU/Linux software.

"We have decided that we will use only free software for computer education
in Kerala schools. We have implemented the Linux platform in high schools;
it will be implemented in other schools step by step," Kerala Education
Minister M A Baby told rediff.com.

He said an estimated 56,000 teachers in high schools are getting trained on
the Linux platform.

Asked if it is a deliberate decision to log out Microsoft from the state-run
schools, the minister said, the plan is not targetted at any IT company.
"Our policy is to migrate computer education to free software platforms. We
want to make Kerala the FOSS (Free and Open Software Systems) destination in
India. That is all," he added.

But officials said two factors have influenced the Communist government to
go in for the Linux platform by abandoning the Microsoft product.

First, Chief Minister Achuthanandan has been a votary of free software.
While in Opposition till May this year, Achuthanandan had sternly opposed
the then Congress government's decision to join hands with Microsoft to
launch the IT at School programme.

Second, free software guru Richard Stallman is virtually the consultant to
the Kerala government's IT initiatives. Two weeks, back Stallman visited the
state and convinced the government to switch over to free software systems
in the educational institutions to begin with.

Stallman, in fact, gave a presentation as to how free software has been an
exciting education and computing model in a Spanish province.

Officials say political parties in Kerala have been using the Microsoft
versus Linux issue to settle scores. "The Congress government had launched
an IT literacy project with the support of Intel and Microsoft. Now the
Communist government has abandoned it, and wants to migrate everything to
free software platforms," an official at the Kerala IT Mission Secretariat
pointed out.

While in Opposition, Achuthanandan had strongly opposed the project saying
the agreement between the Kerala government and the Microsoft for training
teachers under the IT at School project was fraught with danger.

"Microsoft boss Bill Gates wants to push his operating system using the
services of software developers who had adopted it and this was made clear
by several experts in the field. The government should, therefore, be very
careful when dealing with Microsoft," Achuthanandan had then written to the
government headed by Congress chief minister A K Antony.

Political issues apart, the Linux PC dealers are excited about the
government decision to promote Linux platforms in schools.

"We are getting lots of enquiries and orders for pre-loaded Linux operating
system. The hardware sales have gone up because of this," P K Harikrishnan,
president, Kerala Computer Manufacturers' and Dealers' Association said.

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