[GRASS-user] FOSS GIS in India

RAVI KUMAR ravivundavalli at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 10 03:08:37 EDT 2007

Hi Frank,
here are some of my PERSONAL views.
Programming skills and GIS:
In developing countries like India, GIS and Software
(GIS) development in education rarely have much common
ground in general. So experts in GIS
need not necessarily be software developers.

The students of computer-science (a general term)
rarely develop code for
GIS, as they are probably much in demand elsewhere. It
is a fact that 'Google summer of code', may not be an
option for young programmers, as their interest is
primarily is to land a well paid job, which is again
industry(developed world) driven.

GIS in educational institutes:
Markus Neteler visited and did some work with Anna
University Chennai, in early nineties, and they still
show GRASS GIS in their syllabus. But unfortunately
there are no takers. There are more than a hundred (an
approximation) institutes and universities in India
that offer courses in Geomatics, Remotesensing,
including the IITs( top educational institutes of the
land). All of them teach proprietary GIS (ARC and
ERDAS) and  image processing software. The reason,
they are driven by the industry's needs, and it is a
fact that jobs are there for those well versed in
proprietary software.

Government Institutes:
The Indian state and central governments spend lot of
funds in GIS and they all work with proprietary

Incentives and encouragement:
The OSGeo India is conducting capacity building
workshops to introduce FOSS GIS to those who are
already knowledgeable in proprietary GIS. The OSGeo
India is in touch with educational institutes and is
showing them the option of FOSS GIS, by even offering
some joint projects. However students are wary as they
find jobs, only if they are proficient with
Proprietary GIS. 

OSGeo as an encouragement can provide scholarships for
those excelling in FOSS GIS. The code developers may
be offered projects in FOSS GIS, and suitably
rewarded. Selected students can be offered visits to
GRASS Capital Trento, to Germany for Qgis and to
Canada where FOSS GIS has routes. 

Outsourcing FOSS GIS work:
Development of data-sets from paper maps as well as
code-development for customisation of FOSS GIS, may
also be considered as incentives for attracting young

Bright future for FOSS GIS:
We are aware that the projects will turn into
testimonials for FOSS GIS within an year or two, and
to sustain further development in the FOSS GIS
projects, students will be employed with knowledge in

Last word:
GIS is already entrenched in India, but can only reach
'GRASSroutes' through FOSS GIS.

Ravi Kumar

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