This post has been contributed by Ajit Burad, who writes for us on occasion.

Recently I read an interesting article by Mark Rais on the role of Open Source in making education available to the large youth population of India. It is a great initiative which has been taken by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) – they created an organization called Shiksha India a few years ago. A quote:

To support more than 650,000 villages and one half billion youths who need education, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) created a nonprofit organization called Shiksha India in 2001. One of Shiksha’s primary initiatives was the creation of a collaborative online Web portal, which the president of India launched in a formal ceremony last month. The new e-learning and collaboration portal uses open source technology such as Moodle, Drupal, and MediaWiki.

In my opinion the reason why this venture has been successful so far is because it is free of cost and easily available. Both these issues are important in a country like India.

Another important aspect mentioned in the article is the ability to customize and provide products in local languages (including Hindi and Tamil). Also, Open Source will help solve large scale software piracy. Currently software piracy laws are not very strict in India. 

Shiksha has big plans for the future:

Shiksha India will be involved is helping their institutional partners transition from proprietary software to open source, and highlighting the advantages that accrue from open source usage…it is also dedicated to reaching out to technology-starved rural areas in India and helping them become computer-savvy. Open source software is one key ingredient in the plan to reach India’s nearly 500 million youths with technology and education.

In a country like ours, with a vast population in need of education, organisations like Shiksha are the need of the hour.