GitHub is a centralized repository for open source code all over the world. Last year Google shut down its own platform Google code and moved to GitHub. Now, the Indian government has unveiled OpenForge which is an Indian version of GitHub but it is going to work as a repository for government software codes.
The website was being developed for more than 2 years. Its main purpose is to avoid duplication and redundant work which is being done. It is going to be a platform where developers can collaborate to build new software or improve the current versions.
Project architect Amit Ranjan says
“Every (state) government and even municipalities are developing software. The same software is being developed across the country. If you look at the central government agencies even they are doing the same repetitive work. You are spending money on repetitive tasks,”
So, it is clear that the platforms main goal is to avoid redundant effort and reduce development time. He also says that e-governance is their primary focus. Almost all government projects are similar and these projects are repeated at different levels – from municipalities to central government. So, OpenForge is an enabler which will help developers to collaborate and reduce the effort.
This project is developed in view of the 2015 IT policy which states, if software products are created with public funds, the people should be able to reuse it. Also, there should be a platform for collaboration and government will own the IPR if government funds are used on custom developed codes.
Is OpenForge redundant?
It makes sense to reduce redundant effort but the need for a new website is still unjustified. Just because GitHub is hosted outside the country it does not mean it is unusable. OpenForge team points out that the website will be centered on government projects and GitHub (being hosted outside India) would not have been a viable option. But open source is open source whether or not it is inside or outside the country.
If the government wants citizens to collaborate, they should go where they already are rather than trying to bring everyone to a new platform and that’s the reason Google pulled the plugs on Google code. The new website is live now and works well but whether the goal of this project will be realized – only time will tell.