Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Indian state Kerala aims to break Microsoft dominance


The communist-run Kerala state said yesterday it aimed to break US software giant Microsoft’s dominance in schools, two weeks after rattling investors by banning Coke and Pepsi sales.

Kerala Education Minister M A Baby said his government would promote the use of open source Linux operating systems along with Microsoft in high schools in Kerala, India’s most literate state which has a population of 31.8mn.

"We are against monopolies of multinational companies in any sectors," he said.

"So we would like to provide equal opportunity for both Linux and Windows-Microsoft operating system in the school curriculum." But "ideologically I support Linux and Free and Open Operating Systems for IT enabled-education in schools," he added.

Baby’s statement came two weeks after the southern state alarmed international investors by banning sales of US soft drinks Coke and Pepsi after an environmental group said their locally bottled beverages contained high pesticide levels.

Five other Indian states imposed partial bans on sales of the cola products following the environmental group’s allegations. The US soft drink firms dismissed the charges as unfounded but sales of their products have fallen.

The Kerala government launched a program to provide computer-enabled education to high school students in 2002 that it dubbed "IT @ School."

The project has now been rolled out in all 2,724 high schools across the state.

The education minister said there was no truth to Indian media reports that the government was seeking to ban the use of Microsoft Windows in high schools.

"We won’t act undemocratically. We are giving options to the students and teachers. They can decide on what tool they want to use," he said. There was no immediate response available from Microsoft

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