Open Government Data (OGD) Initiative in India: An Empirical Analysis

Open Government Data (OGD) Initiative in India: An Empirical Analysis

Rupak Chakravarty (Panjab University, India)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4987-1.ch004
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Open Government Data (OGD) is a relevant discussion concerning transparency in governmental procedures. The chapter examines how India has followed up on the open data policy and constituted the Open Government Data (OGD) Platform and National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) to ensure that citizens can access data generated from public-funded governmental activities. The author has conducted an empirical examination of the status of the Open Government Data initiative in India, its scope, how the programme ranks against other countries, and has evaluated the same against the parameters of Democracy Index (33 out of 165), Open Data Barometer (43 out of 100) of Open Government Data and webometric analysis. India has taken proactive steps towards releasing government data to public domain. This can be seen in the rising growth in contribution of datasets and increase in OGD literature. The NDSAP and OGD Platform can be applauded as a healthy step on the part of the Government of India towards transparency and encouraging public participation in governance.
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Structured data available in open format and open license for public access and use is usually termed as “Open Data,” and is of prime importance in the contemporary world. Data is also one of the most valuable resources for modern governance, sharing of which enables various and non-exclusive usage for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. Licenses, however, are crucial to ensure that such data is not misused or misinterpreted (for example, by insisting on proper attribution), and that all users have the same and permanent right to use the data.

National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP)

The open government data initiative was started in India with the notification in the Gazette, of the NDSAP, and was submitted to the Union Cabinet by the Department of Science and Technology, on 17th March 2012. While the appropriate open formats and related aspects for implementation of the Policy has been defined in the “NDSAP Implementation Guidelines”, which was created by an inter-ministerial Task Force constituted by the National Informatics Centre, the open license for data sets published under NDSAP and through the OGD Platform remained undefined till now.

Aims and Objectives

The NDSAP intends to “provide an enabling provision and platform for proactive and open access to the data generated by various Government of India (GoI) entities. The objective of this policy is to facilitate access to GoI owned shareable data (along with its usage information) in machine readable form through wide area network all over the country in a periodically updatable manner, within the framework of various related policies, acts and rules of Government of India, thereby permitting a wider accessibility and usage by public.” (Government of India, n.d.)


The NDSAP states that it “covers all data and information created, generated, collected and archived using public funds provided by Government of India directly or through authorized agencies under the various Ministries/Departments/Organizations/Agencies and Autonomous bodies. Data sharing and access are to be based on the principles which include but are not limited to: Openness, Flexibility, Transparency, Quality, Security and Machine-readable.” (Open Data Government Platform India, n.d.)

Identification of Datasets

According to the NDSAP mandate, every Department should identify datasets as per either of the two defined categories which are the Negative List and the Open List. Datasets which are of confidential nature and could compromise security of nation if made public, come under the Negative List. Personal information comprising datasets are also placed under the Negative List. Open List consists of datasets which do not fall in the negative list. Open List datasets are further categorized by priority into high value and non high value datasets.


NDSAP recommendation on the format for datasets is that is should be in machine readable open format. To ensure uniformity and standardization, it has been advised that government data be published in any of the given formats as follows:

  • CSV (Comma Separated Values)

  • XLS (Spread sheet - Excel)

  • ODS/OTS (Open Document Formats for Spreadsheets)

  • XML (Extensive Markup Language)

  • RDF (Resources Description Framework)

  • KML (Keyhole Markup Language used for Maps)

  • GML (Geography Markup Language)

  • RSS/ATOM (Fast changing data e.g. hourly/daily)

Permissible Use of Data

According to the mandate of the NDSAP; that applies to all shareable, non-sensitive data, available either in digital or analog forms, generated using public funds by agencies under the Government of India, and subject to the conditions listed under section 4 (Terms and Conditions of Use of Data) and 7 (Termination) of the NDSAP policy document; all users are provided an international, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use, adapt, publish (either in original, or in adapted and/or derivative forms), translate, display, add value, and create derivative works (including products and services), for all lawful commercial and non-commercial purposes, and for the duration of existence of such rights over the data or information.

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