Red Hat’s CEO James Whitehurst is currently on his first trip to India since he took over from Matthew Szulik last December. Whitehurst is to meet with top industry and government leaders. He is also scheduled to meet with members of the open source community as well as famous academics such as Dr. Deepak Phatak of IIT Bombay.
In an interview in Mumbai, Whitehurst hoped that open source software adoption would continue to grow as more e-governance projects are sanctioned. India’s central government continues to increase its investment to make IT services accessible to a larger percentage of people in rural and small town communities. Red Hat India continues to focus on growing Linux and open source deployment in four key markets in India – government, BFSI, telecom and education.
Localization and Open Standards
Other areas that Whitehurst sees as big ticket items for India are local language localization and adoption of open standards. Both these areas are crucial for supporting large e-governance projects. Red Hat India continues to make serious contributions to language localization by incorporating support for 11 Indian languages in RHEL and Fedora. Languages that are fully supported include Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Telegu and Tamil. Whitehurst reiterated the need for localization in helping reduce the digital-divide in India.
Whitehurst highlighted Red Hat’s efforts to promote open standards as a dynamic that could change society in the long run. Red Hat has made significant headway in lobbying for adoption of open standards by the central government. India voted against OOXML in favor of ODF earlier this year at ISO. However, despite objections against OOXML, it was approved by ISO as an international standard in August. Appeals from Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela that stemmed from irregularities surrounding the approval process were rejected by ISO.
India’s Fedora Community
Whitehurst also praised the Indian Fedora community for actively working on Fedora. India has the third largest group of contributors to the Fedora project. 26 contributors (many of whom work for Red Hat India) are listed on the Fedora project wiki.