How the student community in West Bengal is fostering startups and Open Source Culture

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We at StudentStory believe and support the growing student community across the country. There is no denying the fact that the students today will ultimately nurture up the country’s future tomorrow. In this regard, today we focus on the emerging open source and startup likeness from West Bengal. Over the years number of students from lesser known colleges in the state, have contributed to different open source companies and made a mark for themselves.

FOSS ( Free and Open Source Software)- growing interest of students

The state is a home to several engineering colleges spread across different fields. Many students from these colleges are now actively contributing towards different open source platforms. Kushal Das a pass out from Dr. B.C Roy engineering college conducts summer training programs for students every year. Kushal is a member of Durgapur, Linux users group (Dgplug) and has been contributing to open source projects since 2004. This training program aims to provide students the fundamentals of Python and also make them familiar with free and open source software models.

Over the years students of this community (Dgplug) have gone to contribute heavily in open source projects. The present strength of members at Dgplug revolves around 50, which largely constitutes of graduates and students once trained by Kushal.

Dgplug members at Pycon 2013 (Kushal in centre)

We got in touch with some of the students to know why they wish to contribute or adopt these open source technologies in the first place. For Sayan Chowdhury, it all started with his seniors forcing him to join one of training sessions on Python. He also mentions the importance of open source culture “ I think open source makes students learn coding the best way. One tend to learn a lot by observing from works of other people which is available on Github.”

On the other hand Souradeep De studying in Dr. B.C.Roy Engineering College,Durgapur says ever since he started using some of the open source tools he always wanted to be a part of the community. “ Developing software or contributing to projects by great people is so much fun. Especially the FOSS people, they are awesome ”. His batch-mate Sudip is yet to contribute to any open source project and is hoping to do so in the future. He says “ I love sharing software, source code, ideas. In open source you have the freedom to make your own code and except you nobody can stop you. ” On being asked why he preferred FOSS over other closed sourced programs, he goes on to add that “ Nobody inspired me into FOSS world, I just got bored using pirated programs and I do not want to steal more ”

For some students the interaction with open source happens out of a habit, Swarnava Sengupta says “ i enjoy contributing in my spare time to open source. In this world, i have received lot of respect, achievement and also I have learned a lot of things, met thousands of new people, students, teachers, designer and many more.” He has been an active contributor at Mozilla for the last three years and cherishes this journey.

Creating a open culture in the city

Kolkata, as compared to other metro cities of the country lacks the open culture and is neither a favorite among the startup community. Recently startup owner(s), geeks and independent open source contributors came forward to resolve this issue.

webcamp meetup

Sayak Sarkar, Kaustav Das Modak along with others are looking to create, a collaborative working space for creative people - developers and designers alike in Kolkata. This “makerspace” will serve as a platform where technical people will have the leverage of working together.

Kaustav further added “ people have been thinking about this for a long time but nothing constructive ever happened. Now that we have people showing interest, we think its time to change the general attitude that nothing worthwhile takes place in this city”. More insights about this Makerspace can be gained from his blogpost.

Result

Kushal has been training students ever since 2008 and over the years the popularity for this training has only increase. It serves good both for students as well as the open culture. The student gets the leverage of adding extra skills for the future.

On the other hand for creating a Makerspace, people have recently started organizing plans to instigate the process. It might take time for them to actually mold the whole idea together but looking at enthusiasm of the participants it seems they will definitely get this completed soon.

They are also looking for contributors and participants in the formation of Makerspace, if you are interested post in the comments below.

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