Free Software Movement Maharashtra - Outcome of preparatory meeting

The preparatory meeting for formation of 'Free Software Movement Maharashtra' was a success. The meeting was held at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay on 4th May 2013. 44 people participated in it.

The agenda of the meeting was:
1. Discussion on the importance free software and knowledge as a commons
2. Discussion about the need for a movement in the free software domain
3. Forming an organising team to take forward activities in Maharashtra
4. Listing and approving of action items for the next few months

The participants were welcomed by Vikram Vincent, Member, General Council, FSMI and Prof. Puru Kulkarni moderated the session.

Prof. Kannan Moudgalya inaugurated the first agenda point by talking about the FOSS initiatives at IITB and the efforts to connect with the teachers and students from all over the country. Prof. D.B. Phatak explained about the role of Aakash and the need for large scale efforts to localise knowledge. He raised several points of importance, two of which are the need to create strong business ecosystems in the FOSS domain and the need for the end users to have the freedom to choose the products and services they want. Dr. T. Jayaraman of TISS highlighted the efforts of TISS in opening up knowledge and the challenges that arise out of such initiatives. He extended support both from himself personally and also of his colleagues at TISS for furthering the free software movement. Dr. Vivek Monteiro spoke a few words on the universalisation of knowledge. Venkatesh Hariharan of Knowledge Commons intervened in the discussions and provided the theoretical framework for knowledge as a commons. Kiran Chandra, General Secretary of FSMI, detailed the need for a strong people’s movement in the free software domain. He emphasised on the guiding principles of FSMI which allowed it to take up issues of human concern and society.

The recent mandate of AICTE (to all its institutes) to implement Microsoft's Office365 suite of collaboration tools was discussed. A link to AICTE's announcement is here:

Kiran Chandra pointed out FSMI's response to this, which is available at the following link:

The possible effects of the implementation of the mandate to use Office 365 were discussed and there was unanimous agreement towards demanding reasons for the same from AICTE, through legal means and using RTIs etc., along with an agreement to oppose such an initiative.

The meeting then called for volunteers to form a core team who would drive the activities for the next few months towards initiating the Free Software Movement Maharashtra. A team of 18 members was created, and Dr. Puru and Vikram will coordinate the same. The members of the organising team are Dr. T. Jayaraman, Mrunmayee Tayade, Rajesh Kumar, Nikita Belavate, Rahul Maganti, Deepak Pacha, Arun Khan, Siji Sunny, Kiran Eranki, Prof. Shishir Jha, Dinesh Jain, Rahul Muttu, Pradeep Mohandas, Krutikaa Jawanjal, Karthik Nadar, one for ERP-next. The meeting had representation from several organisations such as IITB, TISS, FSMI, Wikipedia, Knowledge Commons, DA-IICT, ILUG-BOM, Somaiya and other colleges.

The ‘Free Software Movement Maharashtra' with the domain name of was declared functional.

The following points were chosen as action points in near future:
1. FOSS sessions in colleges and schools
2. GNOME Marathi popularisation and supporting respective groups already working in this domain.
3. Office 365
4. Any other that may be feasible as and when opportunity arises.

Photographs of the meeting. Courtesy of Venky