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Open source technology

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    17th May, 2022


  • Openness of Technology
  • Digital public goods
  • Digital public Infrastructures
  • Significance for India
  • Way forward


In the process of democratization of governance structure, new emerging technologies play a vital role.

Digital public goods (DPGs) and digital public infrastructure (DPI) are prime examples of technological investments into 'open' tech that can help governments more quickly develop solutions to big and urgent challenges.


What is meant by 'Openness' in technology?

  • Openness of technology refers to free availability of the source code to every user or developer for usage, modification and redistribution.
  • Both Digital public goods (DPGs) and digital public infrastructure (DPI) are anchored in the idea of "openness" and open-source, i.e. each problem has to be solved only once.
  • The solution is made freely and widely available to anyone who wishes to use it, modify it or built upon it.
  • These are accessible and available to anyone who wishes to use them, modify them or build upon it.

Digital public goods (DPGs)

  • DPGs are "open source software, open data, open AI models, open standards and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable laws and best practices, do no harm and help attain the SDGs,".
    • One example of a DPG is DIVOC, a programme that has been customized by governments to generate over 1 billion secure and verifiable vaccination certificates in India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Jamaica and Indonesia.
  • Digital public infrastructure (DPI)
  • DPIs refer to societal scale digital systems with functions essential for public and private service delivery, including payment systems and data exchanges.
    • One example of a DPI is OpenG2P, which digitized cash transfers and was built during the West Africa Ebola crisis.

What are the benefits of open source technology that India can derive?

  • Free availability and accessibility: As compared to proprietary software open source doesn't have any vendor lock-in, i.e., no fee is charged for the use and modification of the technology.
  • A community for developers: Any successful project would have a thriving community of developers to build suitable target-oriented software, open-source software provides the platform to the desired developers.
  • Secure software: Open source technology and software are vulnerable to the security breach, when such vulnerability is reported the team of developers gets the upper hand to resolve the issue, which makes it more secure and safe.
  • Governance structure: Digital Public Goods and Digital Public infrastructure along with community engagement has the potential to democratize the governance structure of the nation. More accountable and responsive governance.
  • Networked health care: Open source technology can bring a revolution in the health care sector in a geographically diversified country like India. Accessible and affordable healthcare services can be enabled for every citizen.
  • Quality education: Emerging digital education can be fostered by open source technology.
  • Service ecosystem: India is one of the largest service sector exporters in the world, availability of open source technology will help the Indian companies to hire developers and make their service route safer, secure and target-oriented.
  • Digitization of payment: Open source technology has the potential capacity to be used in the digital India mission and make the payment system cashless.

Challenges in deployment and implementation

  • Constraints in technical capability
  • a persistent digital divide
  • lack of fiscal space
  • unintended exclusions
  • Risks to data and digital rights of citizens 

What are the major steps that need to be taken to implement the technological reform?

  • Moving from words to action: To implement the process of Open source technology, accessible and affordable internet service plays a crucial role. The policy framers at the national and sub-national levels need to bridge the gap of the digital divide and penetrate the use of open source technology.
  • Building deeper country capacity: Policy framers should focus on building up the infrastructure and frameworks for secure cyberspace to support the growth and penetration of open source technology and software.
  • Leave no one behind: The objective of the implementation plan needs to be inclusive and democratic, which involves people's participation and development for all.


Open source approaches to technologies can help the government more efficiently develop a tailored solution to big and urgent challenges. Implementing GPGs to leverage DPIs can provide crucial interventions for emergencies and development. DPGs and DPIs when combined with community engagement can make the governance structure more transparent and accountable. Some major challenges lie ahead in the implementation process of the technology which needs to be catered to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals' 2030.

Practice Question

Q1. Open Digital Ecosystems (ODEs) can democratize access to government systems and enable collaborative citizen-centric services. Comment

Q2. Examine the role of open technology in accelerating the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goals.


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