The Indian IT ministry has floated the idea of developing a made-in-India operating system to reduce the national dependence on foreign software and increase resilience to viruses and IT-based attacks.
My reaction to this wavers back and forth depending on how I think about OSes: if they're a resource, like oil, then "reducing dependency on foreign OSes" makes a certain kind of sense. But if OSes are machines or standards — like engines, or metric — then "reducing dependency" on them is ridiculous. A country that "reduces its dependency" on using the same classes of invention as are used abroad is literally vowing to reinvent the wheel.
The government formed a high-level taskforce in February to devise a plan for building indigenous software, said a senior intelligence official who is a member. The panel will also suggest ways to conduct third-party audits on existing software in government offices to prevent online sabotage attempts until the software's launch, he said.
The overwhelming belief among government bosses is that an indigenous low-grade, but clean, software could nix the chances of foreign states infiltrating the computers of key Indian establishments and compromising the country's security. "A sanitised, lower level operating system and application software may be preferred to the advanced versions, which necessarily require access to internet for upgrades," the official said. The new software could be deployed in key departments that have been under constant cyber attacks. The taskforce also includes officials of the Prime Minister's Office as well as defence, home and telecom & IT ministries.
The move to constitute the taskforce comes after the defence ministry raised concerns over use of anti-virus products of foreign vendors in the wake of a series of attacks on its systems by China-based hackers.
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