ILUG-BOM Lodged grievance on Public Grievance Portal

milindoka Public Seen by 530

A few members of ILUG-BOM read the GST advertisement-announcement published on 7th August 17. They realized that the OSS policy is being violated openly. Also concerned GST officials are flouting competition act 2002. The offline tool mentioned in the advt was only compatible with MS Windows and MS Excel. Even they shamelessly warned that the tool cannot run on Linux. The issue has to be taken seriously as millions of people have to submit GST return and will be forced to buy MS Windows and MS Office. Hence ILUG-BOM lodged the grievance by a member supported by ILUG-BOM. So ILUG-BOM humbly suggest other FOSS and LUG groups to lodge the grievance from their side and push the FOSS movement forward.

Incidentally I saw similar letter by Kannan on Matrix. He then suggested to start the thread here. So thanks to Kannan. Nice to be here.

Undue Advantage To a Proprietary Software

Today the whole country is celebrating its 71st independency day, but we the citizens of India feel ashamed that our government has left us with no alternative than to submit this grievance on this auspicious day.
This grievance calls for reassuring country's FREEDOM.

Are we really digitally independent or still slaves? The following example depicts that we are not. It is the advertisement appeared on 7th August 2017 in leading news papers. It is regarding GST website and offline GST tools, (few copies of the advertisements are attached here for reference).

The government of India has its own Open Source Software Policy but on the contrary promoting the Monopoly of a commercial product.

The current GST website of GoI (Government of India) has mandated the use of proprietary software, which includes Microsoft Windows, MS Excel, Winzip, Winrar etc. Due to this, users who have to file their invoices on the GST website are forced to purchase these commercial products from Microsoft (OS, Office tools etc.

Just to brief in detail, each step of installation emphasises the mandatory use of Microsoft products. GST department is apparently promoting and working as a marketing agency for a particular company, namely Microsoft, forcing millions of citizens to buy and use it's commercial products.

When there are many alternative products, which are either commercial, as well as open source, they are not recommended by the GST department. This is a clear message of marketing and promotion of a single vendor in the market. The alternative options of free and open software include LibreOffice, which is a product of community effort and is available free of cost to download and use.

Most importantly, Libre Office uses open formats that can be deciphered by anyone with the knowledge of the programming language, unlike proprietary formats used by commercial software companies such as Microsoft, which are kept secretly by them.

It is also dangerous to store documents, especially government documents, in proprietary formats, which are classified as confidential to a private company alone. There are instances where these companies withdraw support for some of their products in the past and hence will do so in future too. This leaves all the users difficult to read those documents created using the proprietary software.

This practice of forcing people to buy proprietary software products to furnish mandatory returns to the Government goes directly against the Open Source Policy of 2012. It is clearly against the 'Competion Act 2002'.

Also, the government policy on e-governance states that free and open source formats should be used for all documents. Thus, the web sites go directly against the government policy. It is only natural if someone suspects the vested interest of some individual or group in specifying such proprietary software for public purposes. We urge the Government departments who are concerned to GST for changing the specified software and suggest and support of alternative software that use Free and Open document formats such as ODF. The specified links to Microsoft Excel and to documents created using MS Office documents could easily be substituted with LibreOffice.

Thanks and Best Regards.

Tayyabali Sayyad

For Indian Linux User's Group, Mumbai

Attachments :

GST advt, English TOI, 07/08/2017.

GST advt, Marathi Loksatta, 07/08/2017.

GST Website screen shots