Roy Schestowitz’s Boycott Novell blog reported that organizers of the National Conference on Free Software 2008 at India’s Cochin University attempted to suppress the peaceful anti-Novell protest.  Apparently the state police even confiscated mobile phones (for a short period of time) so that pictures of the incident could be deleted.

It does appear that conference organizers, and not Novell, called the police. Some folks commenting have questioned why Novell would be allowed to sponsor a Free Software conference.  Others place the blame on Free Software activists seeking attention through a publicity stunt.  The truth likely lies somewhere in between.

However, what I find more interesting are the calls to boycott Novell, SuSe and Microsoft products in India.  I’m not sure if this is truly possible yet.  Considering that India’s IT economy is driven by the outsourcing needs of Western clients, many of whom still rely on Microsoft technologies, can India truly turn its back on Microsoft?  This is clearly a point in time statement.  When India’s IT economy is driven more by the needs of domestic clients, rather than the needs of clients outsourcing to India, the importance of Free Software will surely rise.

My hypothesis is that domestic Indian clients will be more accepting of, or even insist on, Free Software than Western clients.  Part of this will be driven by the skills present in the (Indian) market.

The first wave of Indian IT professionals were taught on predominately non Free Software (i.e. Microsoft) technologies.  These professionals didn’t have access to computing resources as readily as we are used to.  The second wave of professionals are in a completely different boat. They have easier access to a broad range of computing resources and information about Free Software.

What do you think?