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India unveils indigenous mobile operating system: BharOS

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IIT Madras incubated, and the Department of Science and Technology funded firm J and K Operations (JANDKOPS) unveiled a new indigenous operating system, BharOS, based on the Linux kernel. However, several customisations can be done on top of the kernel.

The operating system can be installed on commercial off-the-shelf mobile handsets. BharOS comes with various security protocols, such as the root of trust and chain of trust, meaning that the operating system will stop working if any change is attempted in its software design.

The operating system is clean and comes with no pre-loaded software like Android. This gives more freedom to people as they are not chained to keep the default apps they don’t use. Moreover, while installing the apps, users are given much more control and permissions in BharOS.

BharOS is set to compete against Google’s Android OS, which enjoys a 95%+ market share in India

BharOS will provide access to apps from organisation-specific Private App Store Services (PASS), which provides a curated list of apps thoroughly tested for security and privacy standards.

Furthermore, BharOS offers Native Over The Air (NOTA) updates, which will automatically be downloaded and installed, ensuring up-to-date security and bug fixes. Dharmendra Pradhan, the Minister for education and skill development and entrepreneurship, hailed this development as a monopoly-busting potential.

This is not India’s first operating system experiment. In 2007, the Centre for Advanced Computing released BOSS — Bharat Operating System Solutions.

“With NDA, PASS, and NOTA, BharOS ensures that Indian mobile phones are trustworthy”, said Mr. Karthik Ayyar, Director, JandK Operations Pvt Ltd.

However, this new action comes in the backdrop of the Indian Government’s recent tussle with Google. In October last year, the Competition Commission of India slapped two fines worth $162 and $114 million on Google on charges of abusing the monopoly and anti-competitive practices. While Google is currently trying to fight out the fines in court, its position remains meek as the Supreme Court of India denied Google an appeal and sent the company back to NCLAT.

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