31 March, 2015

Striking Similarity between India Against Corruption Movement and Free Software Movement

Recently there was split in India's new political party AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) due to irreconcilable differences between co-founder Arvind Kejriwal (now Chief Minister of Delhi) and more idealist co-founders of the party Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan. 

AAP party was born out of India Against Corruption movement to fight various forms of corruption at all levels of Indian government. All other well established political parties in India (BJP and Congress) have taken more "practical view" on corruption as "necessary" evil to run party operations. There was no pressure, will power and perhaps capability with established parties to fix cancer of corruption in Indian politics.

India Against Corruption movement spread quickly in all parts of urban India, thousands of people came of the streets to support the movement. People were tired of phony politics of Congress and BJP and their tolerance of corruption. 

Aam Aadami Party (AAP) was a side effect of this
movement. Arvind Kerjiwal was the poster boy. He became popular over time overshadowing more idealist members of the movement. 

Apparently Arvind Kerjiwal found it too difficult to adhere to pure values and ideals of the movement. With AAP winning Delhi elections with Kejriwal elected as Chief minister, the distance between AAP leadership and the original movement grew. Specifically AAP believed that winning Delhi election anyhow was important and providing good governance to Delhi is the top most priority. Arvind is famous for his apparent arrogance and dictatorial traits.

On the other hand, more idealistic leader believed on much large vision of taking the movement to all parts of India and do so without any compromise on principles/values of the movement. The movement should spread all over India and it is much bigger than success in a state election.

Arvind Kejriwal (Poster Boy)

Yogendra Yadav (Idealist but not popular)

Having participated in both Free software movement and India against corruption movement, for me similarity of striking.

Richard Stallman initiates Free software movement based on principles of "software freedoms". Software users and developers were suffering from the monopolist practices of Microsoft and cumbersome software licenses regime. So many people supported free software movement. It grew in many parts of the world.

Open source software projects (under various licenses including GNU GPL) was a side of effect of this movement. Linux Kernel project was born out in the fertile environment created by Free software movement. Linux and its creator Linus Torvalds became poster child of this movement. However Linus never fully supported the ideals of software freedom and refused to help the movement spread. He decided not to call Linux distributions as GNU/Linux. Linus is famously known as "Benevolent Dictator".

Richard Stallman always appreciated Linus as a good engineer, but criticized for compromising on principles of "software freedoms". Stallman believes that movement is much bigger than a single project.

Linus Torvalds (Poster Boy)

Richard Stallman (Idealist but not popular)