Venkatesh Hariharan (Venky)

159 points

Venkatesh Hariharan is Corporate Affairs Director (Asia-Pacific) at Red Hat. In this role, he works with industry, academia, government and the community to accelerate the growth of the global open source movement. In 2006, he was awarded the "Indian Open Source Personality of the Year" by the organizers of Linux Asia 2006.
Hariharan is a former Executive Editor of Express Computer and the first
Indian to be selected for the prestigious Knight Science Journalism
Fellowship (1998-99) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a
Knight Fellow, Hariharan spent a year looking at cutting edge
technologies that can be deployed for bridging the digital divide.
During his stint at Express Computer, he imparted a dynamic news
orientation to the magazine. He has interviewed some of the leading
figures in the world of technology including Microsoft's Bill Gates,
John Gage of Sun Microsystems, Stan Shih of the Acer Group and many
others. He has written for leading Indian and international publications
including MIT Technology Review, Upside, Slashdot, Economic Times, Times of India and others.
After his stint at MIT, Hariharan co-founded of, one of the
leading localization groups in the India subcontinent. has
localized the GNOME and KDE interface of Linux to Hindi and other Indian languages. has helped localization groups in India, Bhutan, Nepal and other countries localize Linux and other open source software to their native languages.
Hariharan believes that open source and free software are powerful tools to empower emerging economies with the benefits of information technology. He has advocated the adoption of open source and open standards in emerging economies for political, cultural and economic reasons through his writing and his speeches.
His long term interest is in the area of technology and public policy. He maintains a blog on open source and open standards at

Authored Content

Authored Comments

Perhaps this will help explain the reason for our disagreements. My specific concern is more with software patents because it converts methods that could have been freely practiced by software developers into private property. To me, these are things that should be in the "knowledge commons" and freely available to everyone. Instead of going into details here, let me point you to my blog entry titled, "the Practical problem with software patents" at:

I'd also like to add that most of this article is not really connected to copyrights and trademarks. Perhaps, I should have been more explicit about it. Thanks for the gene patenting link. I look forward to reading it at the earliest.

Madhukar, for me, one important takeaway from your post is that while ideals are important, the practice of these ideals in day-to-day life is also equally important. The manner in which the ideals of sharing knowledge were subverted in ancient India to create the divisive caste system, should serve as a cautionary tale, not just for us Indians, but also for the world. As you (indirectly) point out, this system was based on excluding access to knowledge, for the so-called lower castes. Thousands of years later, we Indians still live with the repercussions of this deeply inequitable system. Today, thanks to the Internet, we can share knowledge faster and far more easily than at any other point in history. However, exclusionary tools like proprietary standards for data interchange, patents on methods and processes for writing software etc, are trends that are deeply antithetical to the openness and vitality of the Internet. We must not repeat the mistakes of history. More articles on open standards are on my blog at