Reflections on MumbaiFOSS: My Experience and Takeaways

As an open-source enthusiast, I am always interested in the functioning of the open-source ecosystem and the public distribution of software. I recently attended MumbaiFOSS, a conference organized by FOSS United and FOSSEE to promote Free and Open Source Software in Mumbai

The FOSSMumbai conference happened yesterday, on the 11th of March, 2023, at IIT Bombay. In this blog, I share my experiences and takeaways from the conference, including informative talks on building reliable APIs, digital personal data protection, public policies and the importance of open-source beyond just yearly programs and swag.

MumbaiFOSS is a collective effort of FOSS United and FOSSEE to revive the spirit of Free and Open source software in Mumbai.

source: MumbaiFOSS Twitter

FOSS United is a non-profit foundation that promotes Free and Open Source Software ecosystem in India. It offers funding and grants to FOSS projects, organizes events to empower open-source developers, and hosts a not-for-profit learning platform Mon School.

The Free/Libre and Open Source Software for Education, or simply FOSSEE, is a project pioneered in IIT Bombay that promotes using Free and Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) in academics and research. It conducts a plethora of activities to improve education and research quality.

Foss United partnered with FOSSEE to bring together developers, policymakers, and open-source enthusiasts for a conference. MumbaiFOSS was about FOSS (of course!), its issues and trends, and FOSS policies. This was a complete package of happiness for someone who has just scratched the surface of the open-source monolith.

My two college mates accompanied me, coincidentally having the same name – Pratik. The journey from the main gate to the VMCC auditorium felt like a lifetime, but we arrived on time. We were welcomed with a yummy breakfast until the conference started.

I expected at least 100 people to be present, but to my surprise, the numbers were relatively low, though satisfactory. Traveling in Mumbai on early morning weekends has the power to change people’s desires.

Vishal Arya, the swiss army knife of FOSS United, and Riya Mathew, community manager of FOSS United, made the opening note. They told us the story behind FOSS United, the purpose of MumbaiFOSS, and their journey from the beginning.


Before the opening note, Prof. Kannan Moudgalaya of IIT Bombay gave an overview of FOSSEE, Spoken tutorials, and projects FOSSEE promotes. Apart from this, we had nine talks, one panel discussion, and one open discussion throughout the day. From informative talks on building reliable APIs and digital personal data protection to a fireside chat on tech policy, this conference offered a complete package of happiness for anyone interested in the open-source monolith. Read on to discover more about MumbaiFOSS and the importance of open-source beyond just yearly programs and swag.

  1. Building Reliable APIs with Apache APISIX by Navendu Pottekkat
  2. Prav: a community-owned chat app by Ravi Dwivedi and Arun Mathai
  3. eSim developed by FOSSEE by Sumanto Kar and Nagesh Karmali
  4. Demystifying WebRTC by Amogh Lele
  5. Data Fabric by Ashish Sahni
  6. Let’s discuss the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2022 by Poruri Sai Rahul
  7. Transforming Web Apps with Machine Learning by Bhavesh Bhatt
  8. FOSS United’s Public Policy Initiatives by Venkatesh Hariharan
  9. Self Hosting 101 – Reasons to self-host and nifty tools by Kaustubh Maske Patil
  10. Open Source: Supporting, Contributing, and Evangelising – a panel discussion between Vaishnavi, Manish, Saurav, Ashish, Dhiraj, Rohit and Anas Khan
  11. Fireside chat: Why engineers should care about tech policy? by Kailash Nadh and Venkatesh Hariharan

Venky’s talk on FOSS United’s Public Policy Initiatives was my favorite. Hearing him talk about his experience, with interesting stories and analogies, was indeed insightful.

This was the main event of the conference. It was a half an hour discussion between Kailash Nadh, Rushabh Mehta, and Venkatesh Hariharan.

The discussion was mainly focused on new tech policies and our stand on them. How tech policies are changing, why we should care about it, how politicians and political agendas shape these policies, and how we can take steps towards making an impact were a few things that were discussed. It’s important to have more technologists involved in public policies than lawyers.

Kailash Nadh has been CTO of Zerodha since 2013. I was fascinated when I read that Zerodha’s engineering team only comprises 33 people, and nobody has left the team in all these years for better opportunities. Damn, I was excited to meet this man!

As everybody started leaving the auditorium after the conference, I saw him talking to Rushabh and a few team members. I went there and asked him for a photo together, and he gently agreed.

I couldn’t stop but express my admiration towards his work at Zerodha and how much I admire his startup. He thanked me, and I went on cloud nine.

Open source is a lot more than I used to think. It is beyond a few yearly open-source programs, goodies/swags, and adding certificates on LinkedIn. It is beyond contributing to projects backed by large corporations and projects that enhance developer/web experience.

It is also about being free from proprietary software, empowering and encouraging the government and societies to use FOSS, reaching more students, educating them, and many more.

MumbaiFOSS was the first conference I attended. And it was absolutely fantastic! Everything was planned and managed so well that I couldn’t find any issues to rant on. And the food was tasty, too! Kudos to the operations and management team for pulling it off so well.

I plan to attend more such conferences. I searched for some while going back home, and I might go there if everything aligns well. Of course, I will update you all! I am most active on Twitter, where I post such updates. You can also subscribe to my E-mail newsletter to have my next blog in your inbox!

Until then, keep contributing! 🌿