Open Government in India? Per-Apps, Per-Apps Not
Times of India reports that the Narendra Modi government has tapped Amit Ranjan, a technology entrepreneur who sold his startup, Slideshare, to LinkedIn in 2012, to lead a project for opening all government technology systems as it looks to speed up creation of apps that can be deployed across the country, while avoiding expensive proprietary packages. This comes five years after the previous UPA government got Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani to head an ambitious project to give every Indian a unique identity to ensure subsidies were better targeted and bring financial inclusion closer. The programme Nilekani began has been adopted by the Modi government as well. Ranjan has accepted the offer "in principle", according to one of the several people familiar with the plan. He may start as early as February next year, reporting to the joint secretary (IT) Rajinder Kumar. The role involves leading a soon-to-be-created opensource organisation for government projects as its CEO. India's Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) is beefing up its efforts to build a Github-like collection of software applications where various government departments and developers collaborate. More than 20 countries, including the US, UK, Canada and Australia are using Github to create such a bank of apps.
Such programmes give opportunities to technocrats to get involved in government which may be a good thing for India. Whether this particular programme envisioned by Modi will lead to more open government remains to be seen. Modi is defintiely trying to make India mobile.