This article explores the role played by public sector software (PSS) in social change in India. Viewing public sector software as a public good, it explores its potential as well as the challenges that it faces in a context in which proprietoral software is an established and dominant force. Using both theory and examples, it argues that state investment in this public good makes infinite sense in the context of e-governance and commitments to access and affordable use of information resources for all its citizens. Based on the principles of Free Open Source Software (FOSS), PSS offers not only possibilities of access but also adaptation and use by a variety of ‘recursive publics’. Using the example of PSS in the Southern Indian state of Kerala, it offers insights into the practical benefits of software deployed for the common good.
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