NASSCOM offshoot iSpirt chalks out future road map

By : and |February 28, 2013 0

NEW DELHI, INDIA: More than two decades after being founded in 1988, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) that represents more than 1,000 member companies in the $100 billion-strong Indian IT/ITeS industry is not in best form. Blame it on the absence of community-led initiatives or its sole advocacy for biggies, the organization has long been accused of ignoring the interests of open source software (OSS) providers.

Last year, NASSCOM felt the need to relook into the issue and formed a seven-member committee. For the purpose, it roped in members from some prominent IT firms, such as Infosys, Genpact and MindTree. The committee is evaluating the ‘change’ within the organization, in addition to domestic IT, SMB sector and smaller software product firms. It is expected to put forward its recommendations by early next month and may talk about corrective measures.

India’s open source community is already annoyed over NASSCOM’s ardent advocacy to support multiple standards for e-governance programs. FOSS Community Network India, a civil society alliance of organizations that promotes the adoption of free and open source software (FOSS) in India wanted single, patent-free standards.

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The ire of disgruntled organizations came to the fore in the formation of iSpirt (Indian Software Product Industry Round Table). However, NASSCOM reiterated that it has no threat from the new think-tank. NASSCOM Emerge and NASSCOM Product Forum have been active, but iSpirt feels that there is scope to do more and intends to focus more on emerging product companies.

In an interaction with CIOL, one of the iSpirt founders and CEO of Srishti Software, Ajay Sharma, said that they would initially engage with the government and other bodies on policy-making in order to address pain points. “We will educate and diffuse information on why a vibrant software product industry is vital to India’s future,” he said.

Later on, Sharma said that they would pursue policy positions related to software patents, software products (including SaaS) taxation and preferential buying mandates, besides other sectoral issues. The new software body also aims to establish ProductNation.in as the open platform for deeper conversations within the industry. “We will spawn new community-led initiatives like iSMB and M&A Connect to address critical gaps,” added Sharma.

In sharp contrast, NASSCOM in a statement said that iSpirt’s focus was to create a policy think-tank on software products and is not an industry association. “More than 300 software product companies are members of NASSCOM and over 100 new companies joined NASSCOM in this fiscal year,” it said. The organization has a defined focus and initiative for the software product sector, and will continue to contribute to this sector, the note stated.

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