The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) held their second seminar on IT standards in Bangalore on April 12 where they seem to have acquired a semblance of political rectitude by including participants and speakers from a wider swath of the industry. In contrast to the first seminar held earlier this year in New Delhi (February 21), they allowed competing industry stakeholders to represent their positions on IT standards. Proponents of the Open Document Format (ODF) such as IBM, Sun, and Red Hat emphasized the need for open, global standards. Microsoft with its Office Open XML (OOXML) standard reiterated Craig Mundie’s message from his talk in Delhi that standards should support interoperability and innovation should be forged through strong IPR.
BIS’s additional director general Rakesh Verma announced the formation of a panel of 30 organizations to work along with BIS to help build IT standards for India. Action items for this panel include identifying relevant international standards documents and creating India-specific standards as needed. One hopes that BIS will keep the process transparent to ensure open dialog and comments by the public and experts at large.
Today the digital world has multiple vendors and multiple standards. From a nation’s point of view, choosing only one standard from among multiple non-universal standards may be premature. However, enforcing interoperability via adopting open formats and promoting a level playing field can ensure that competing standards play together and communicate productively. An open standards development process can only enhance the prospects of interoperability. The government’s interest lies in having all stakeholders compete fairly to protect and support the consumer’s interests.