Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why Indians don't contribute

Let me rephrase the title again - Why Indians (in india) don't contribute to FOSS (as much)

Foss.in which concluded last week was overall an amazing experience. A lot of great hackers from all around the world had come in and it was quite a privilege to listen to all of them.

Sun was big at the show. Java (open JDK) was there but there were quite a few FOSS projects like apache (Tomcat & the like), JBoss projects and others significant ones were missing.

The main focus this year was to show people how to contribute and help people to get over the fear. I met Dr.Deviprasad, one of the best teachers I have seen, this weekend and we had a two hour long discussion on this topic of why there are not many indian contributors to the open source.

Indians are attributed to having a lot of spirituality, which I dont think is completely true and they believe in daana (charity) and dharma. In this perspective, we should be contributing more. On the contrary, the number of indians that you see contributing is far less when compared to the number of people using FOSS. I have heard that its about 1% even in other countries, but I believe that its not even that in India.

One primary reason could be that we underestimate ourselves. We think that our work is not worthy of contribution. We are not ready to believe or stand behind the quality of our own work. Another aspect to this, in general, indians don't view quality as very important. "Adjust madkoli" attitude wont fly elsewhere.

Another reason could be that we don't value freedom as much. Freedom is an expression of the heart and cannot be expressed in words. It has to be experienced and I don't think that we have enough people who have in India. If you don't value freedom, there is no question of FOSS as well.

The thought of sharing something with others is not seen anymore in cities of India. That culture is fast eroding and that can be seen in sharing code as well. To us today, money is quite important and any effort should lead to money. I am in no way saying money is bad, but to think money as the primary goal is going a little too far. We can see that even in the fresh graduates coming out of college. With two to three offers ranging from 3-6 lakhs, they have already lost their path, and that too a year before they actually graduate.

I would love to change this. I would love to see atleast 10% of us contributing to FOSS, but how?