As India celebrates its 75th year of independence in 2021, the vision of the Government of India is to transform India into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy. ‘Digital India’ mission aims at being a faceless, paperless and cashless economy to facilitate the citizens. To discuss the various technology driven schemes, Express Computer (a part of Indian Express Group) brought government thought leaders and experts from the technology industry together at the three-day ‘Digital Technology Sabha 2021’ virtual event from August 24, 2021 to August 26, 2021.
The first day of the event began with a keynote address titled, ‘How India is leapfrogging in the digital era’ by Dr Ram Sewak Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority (NHA), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. He said, “Digital India mission was started in 2014 for helping the citizens. Aadhar has played a major role in involving people into the digital infrastructure. The CoWIN platform launched by the Government of India has also been a super successful platform easing the registration process for people, being the largest vaccination program in the world.”
Next, Sugumar Umapathy, Enterprise Architect and Field CTO, Dell Technologies spoke about the necessity to plan an enterprise workload strategy in his session titled, ‘Achieve Outcomes for Any Workload, Anywhere with Dell EMC Storage’. Umapathy expressed, “Plan your enterprise workload strategy. Business critical applications should be always available to avoid delay or losses. Power store innovation should be accelerated to help customers to stay agile. Mission critical applications must always be switched on for hospitals, financial trading, governments, etc. Downtime is not an option, as it can attract penalty, regulatory action or loss of life.”
The event moved ahead with a fireside chat titled, ‘How technology can play a key role in social upliftment’, where CJ Venugopal, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary and Chief Administrator, Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi region, Government of Odisha, highlighted the need for technological advancement in the society.
Venugopal mentioned that adaptation of new technology, lack of digital infrastructure in remote areas and upgradation of resources are some key challenges. He added, “The entire lifecycle of student education is monitored digitally. Public distribution system linked with Aadhar cards has improved efficiency and accountability. AI/ML, IoT and blockchain technologies have helped in the revenue department and digital healthcare. Initiatives like Odisha One are simplifying the dissemination of information.”
Further, Shailender Kumar, Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director, Oracle India gave his session on, ‘The Future of Digital India’ where he spoke about some of the key ongoing technological projects.
Kumar commented, “The Govt of India is doing a great work with their Digital India campaign. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is helping in fostering cloud infrastructure in the country. Organisations like Delhi metro, IFFCO and Indian Oil Corporation are already using Oracle’s cloud services to empower the digital infrastructure. The growing complexities in technology is persuading startups to adapt to cloud infrastructure. Oracle Cloud infrastructure helps in faster transaction speed, better logistics and helps in lessening the carbon footprints.”
Ashwani Chandhok, Vice President, Oracle Cloud, Japan and Asia Pacific took the conference ahead with his session, ‘Oracle Cloud Infrastructure – Driving real outcomes in Public Sector for Modern, Smart and Connected Governance’. He emphasised on trends like citizens wanting to engage digitally with their government, AI turning out to be an intelligent problem solver and security as the major focus. According to Chandhok, these trends deliver outcomes like easy to access services, enhancing operations efficiency and maintaining trust. He further added, “The government constantly strives in meeting the expectations of its citizens. During the times of disasters, is when the continuity of services are tested.”
Next, there was an awards ceremony. The team of Express Computer felicitated the award winners, from the government agencies for their excellent contribution to technological support to citizens. The list of the award winners is as following:
|Organisation Name||Award category|
|State e-Governance Mission Team, Gov. of West Bengal||Enterprise Mobility|
|Chhattisgarh Transport Department||Enterprise Applications|
|EESL (Energy Efficiency Services Limited)||Analytics / Big Data|
|IT Department, Gov. of Rajasthan||Analytics / Big Data|
|APSRTC (Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation)||IoT|
Watch Video: Digital Technology Sabha Excellence Awards 2021 | DAY 1 Awards Ceremony
The virtual event moved ahead with a special address by Dr. Neeta Verma, Director General, National Informatics Centre, Government of India. She spoke on ‘Accelerating digital initiatives for building a strong digital foundation for India’. Dr. Verma stated, “The digital India program has propelled the growth of digitalisation across all sectors, be it government or private. The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown facilitated the acceleration in the adoption of digital solutions. For smooth and efficient operations, the video conferencing service of NIC was extensively used by the government at all levels. With 20 crore downloads, Aarogya Setu app has emerged as one of the largest contact tracing apps around the world. Digital transformation is the core strategy of every enterprise, be it government, private or civil society.”
This was followed by a fireside chat, where Manoj Kumar Mishra, Secretary, Department of Electronics and IT, Government of Odisha and Mayank Chaturvedi, Country Manager – Public Sector Sales, Hewlett Packard Enterprise emphasised on ‘Creating the government of the future’. According to Mishra, “The silver lining of Covid-19 pandemic is that it pushed economies to adopt information technology. The backbone for any state or city is the efficiency of their digital ecosystem and the biggest challenge is to provide mobile connectivity for all citizens of the state.”
Mayank Chaturvedi, Country Manager – Public Sector Sales, Hewlett Packard Enterprise expressed, “Out of 420 state services, 220 of them are completely digital. Digital transformation is the need of the hour and the global perception will change from using IT as a product to using it as a service.”
Romanus Prabhu, Global Head, Technical Support, Unified Endpoint Management and Security, ManageEngine took the conference ahead with his session titled, ‘Breach control for endpoints’. He drew the attention of the audience towards the cyber attacks and data frauds that have been on a constant rise since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic. Prabhu commented, “India stands at 68 per cent with respect to ransomware attacks. The majority of applications used by cyber attackers are available in the public domain. Therefore, organisations need to revise and update their security measures accordingly. We must use effective antivirus software when using any device. Unified endpoint management can help in better protection and in avoiding security breaches.”
The first day of the conference came to an end with the session of Nitin Dubey, Senior Pre-Sales Manager, South Asia, Kaspersky which was titled, ‘Safeguarding Government IT assets with Kaspersky Security Solutions’. He said, “Cyber security is designed to reduce the risk of cyber attacks. Attackers usually prey upon human errors, unpatched vulnerabilities, accessible Remote Desktop (RDP) and weak passwords. AI is at the core of cyber security. It is important to detect threats that went undetected using AI.”
The second day (August 25, 2021) of the virtual event started with a fireside chat on ‘How emerging technologies are powering digital self-reliance’ by Anna Roy, Senior Advisor, NITI Aayog.
Roy presented a holistic view of various technology related schemes and programs launched by the Government of India. She commented, “IR 4.0 offers solutions to overcome digital barriers in health, education, agriculture and manufacturing. The Covid-19 has given a push to the adoption of technology. Cyber-physical missions like ‘AI For All’ are linking the tech solutions to real-life issues. Data sharing is the key to leveraging technology with the governance principle of data sharing. Under the ‘AI Garage’ initiative, we look forward to India becoming a leader in the AI space.”
Next, a panel discussion, ‘Leveraging Emerging Technologies to Raise the Bar for e-governance’ took the conference ahead. Samar Jha, Chairman, West Bengal Electronics Industry Development Corporation Limited (WEBEL); Rama Devi Lanka, Director Emerging Technologies & Officer on Special Duty, ITE & C Department, Telangana; Yogesh Khakre, Company Secretary and COO- B-NeST Incubation Centre, Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation, Government of Madhya Pradesh; Dr. B. Viduthalai Virumbi, Health Officer, National Health Mission, Government of Tamil Nadu; Anoop Chaturvedi, Country Manager – Public Sector Business, Pointnext Services, HPE and IPS Sethi, Deputy Director General, National Informatics Centre, Government of India participated in the discussion.
Samar Jha, Chairman, West Bengal Electronics Industry Development Corporation Limited (WEBEL) said, “IT has gone to development phase. AI has been used in a number of ways in e-governance, from traffic management to various departments where facial recognition is used. Blockchain has been used to issue birth and death certificates. It has also helped us to provide unique land records available for lifelong without tempering. Similarly, we are also helping farmers to test and maintain the productivity report of soil and land digitally.”
“We identified technologies and formulated policies for domain areas like healthcare, education, agriculture, law enforcement and mobility,” commented Rama Devi Lanka, Director Emerging Technologies and Officer on Special Duty, ITE and C Department, Telangana.
“Bhopal Smart City app is helping citizens for getting house aids, filing taxes, and issuing birth and death certificates. It is a complete package for citizens, simplifying their day to day chores,” expressed Yogesh Khakre, Company Secretary and COO- B-NeST Incubation Centre, Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation, Government of Madhya Pradesh.
“Population Health Registry initiative ensures that citizens get an ID immediately to get services provided by the state,” stated Dr. B. Viduthalai Virumbi, Health Officer, National Health Mission, Government of Tamil Nadu.
“It is important to digitise and democratise digital innovations with monitoring actions and reactions. Transparency and accountability have been driven by technological innovations. Free flow of information and dissemination of data is what drives our economy,” stated Anoop Chaturvedi, Country Manager, Public Sector Business, Pointnext Services, HPE.
IPS Sethi, Deputy Director General, National Informatics Centre, Government of India said, “Data is like oil, it should be used for predictive analysis. Using data and other digital tools, 120 banks were brought on one common platform. 325 million UPI transactions happened in India in the month of July 2021 alone.”
The conference moved ahead with a fireside chat titled, ‘Digital Infrastructure: Bridging India’s digital divide’ where Sunil Gupta, Co-founder and CEO, Yotta Infrastructure spoke about how cloud adoption is a major step ahead in technology adoption. Gupta expressed, “Cloud adoption has brought global cloud enterprises to India. Cloud adoption wave has led to a phenomenal jump at data centres in India. Today, data centres are five times bigger. Banking on green power with cheaper resources should be promoted by the government. The MeghRaj policy of the government is further boosting the growth of data centres.”
Next, another power-packed panel discussion called, ‘Creating a foundation for accelerating digital initiative’ saw Dr. Dinesh Kumar Tyagi, Chief Executive Officer, CSC E-governance Services India Limited; Anil Kumar Sharma, Superintending Engineer/ R-APDRP & IT, Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN); A. S. Chauhan, Additional Director, Directorate of Treasuries, Pension and Entitlements, Government of Uttarakhand and Anuj Singh Rathore, GM IT, Punjab Urban Planning & Development Authority, Government of Punjab, participated in the discussion.
“We are building a social enterprise in India. It is a centre for entrepreneurs that will guide them to invest and take the technology business ahead. The Government of India is extending optical fibre to villages for service delivery and internet. Power sector is targeted to run infrastructure. Haryana is a state where even taxes can be filled on CSE,” mentioned Dr. Dinesh Kumar Tyagi, Chief Executive Officer, CSC E-governance Services India Limited.
“Automated meters were established with GPRS to render the bills on time. It is important to have power, then only technological devices can work efficiently,” commented Anil Kumar Sharma, Superintending Engineer/ R-APDRP & IT, Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN).
“We have shifted to the central server. Our biggest take away from the pandemic is that employees are contributing efficiently working from home,” stated A. S. Chauhan, Additional Director, Directorate of Treasuries, Pension and Entitlements, Government of Uttarakhand.
“Citizens can check the status of services from anywhere online due to the digital adoption of technology. Online services have reduced human efforts and proved to be efficient,” said Anuj Singh Rathore, GM IT, Punjab Urban Planning & Development Authority, Government of Punjab.
Scott Jarkoff, Director, Strategic Threat Advisory Group, APJ & EMEA, CrowdStrike took the conference ahead with his session titled, ‘Threat Landscape Update: 2021 and Beyond’. He said, “Ransomwares attracts more ransomware because people are paying for it. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in e-crime activity. Access brokers are threat actors with a significant history of providing initial access to multiple entities. Percussion Spider is a highly prolific access broker which usually partners with Thanos. Data extortion forces you to choose between the consequences of data leaks or the consequences of ransomware.”
Next was an interesting fireside chat on ‘How public sector CIOs can take a proactive stance towards cybersecurity’. Rohan Vaidya, Regional Director, India and SAARC, CyberArk Asia Pacific and Japan highlighted that inequalities in the states and lack of digital infrastructure lead to disruptive cyber attacks. He said, “India has an opportunity to go miles ahead to develop services in domains like e-commerce. People are migrating from IT to the cyber security network. Cyber awareness has been driven across all the departments in an enterprise. RPAs carry authentic information which are hacked to launch bot attacks. This is a serious issue that needs to be looked-upon.”
Another panel discussion titled, ‘Best practices for business continuity planning for now and the future’ saw participation from Manish Israni, Executive Vice President and CIO, Yotta Infrastructure; Golok Kumar Simli, CTO, Passport Seva Programme, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, Dr. BK Murthy, Senior Director, Scientist G and Group Head, MietY, Government of India; Rishikesh Patankar, VP, CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd, & COO, CSC Academy, MeitY, Government of India; Balakrishna Sundar, IFS, Special Secretary, Department of ITE & Communication, Government of Andhra Pradesh and Dipesh Kaura, General Manager, South Asia, Kaspersky.
“BCP needs to be planned to run the systems efficiently,” commented Manish Israni, Executive Vice President and CIO, Yotta Infrastructure.
“Infrastructure and workforce development will add on to build business resiliency,” said Golok Kumar Simli, CTO, Passport Seva Programme at Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
“We are helping CIOs under the Cyber Suraksha Bharat initiative,” said Dr. BK Murthy, Senior Director, Scientist G & Group Head at MietY, Government of India.
“Tele-medicine transactions through CSEs were prominent and scalable during the lockdowns,” commented Rishikesh Patankar, VP, CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd, & COO, CSC Academy, MeitY, Government of India.
“To ensure operational continuity given the constraints, IT was ensuring free movement of business across sectors,” stated Balakrishna Sundar, IFS, Special Secretary, Department of ITE & Communication, Government of Andhra Pradesh.
“Cyberattacks can bring down business continuity planning,” commented Dipesh Kaura, General Manager, South Asia, Kaspersky.
Anirudh Saran Singh, IRS, Secretary, Department of IT, Government of Arunachal Pradesh took the conference ahead with a fireside chat on ‘Impact of ICT in developing the North East region’. According to Singh, “The e-files and e-cabinet initiatives are curbing leakages and prove to be very operational. There are ample opportunities for BPO in the north-eastern regions. To bridge the communication gap is the vision of the Government of Arunachal Pradesh. Data integrity is more important than the data collection. Arunachal Pradesh has huge potential for large format data centres due to available resources.”
Next, Prashant Kumar Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Government e-Marketplace (GeM), Government of India spoke on ‘Enabling government procurement towards efficiency, transparency and inclusiveness’. He expressed, “GeM crossed the cumulative value of one lakh crores. We have two million sellers on the GeM platform. GeM focuses to bring self-help groups, small scale businesses and women entrepreneurs on its platform. The platform transforms the various govt policies and change management practices into simple processes. Efficiency, inclusivity and transparency are the three pillars driving the GeM.”
The second day of the virtual conference came to end with the award ceremony to celebrate and facilitate the government agencies for their excellent contribution to technological support to citizens. The list of the award winners are as following:
|Organisation Name||Award category|
|Govt of West Bengal||Analytics / Big Data|
|Andhra Pradesh State Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (APSDRI)||Analytics / Big Data|
|ITEC Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh||Data Centers (Networking/Infrastructure Transformation, SDx)|
|Andhra Pradesh Police||Artificial Intelligence|
|RailTel, Southern Region||IoT|
|OCAC, Gov. of Odisha||Blockchain|
|Technical Services, Andhra Pradesh Police||Enterprise Security, Unified Communication & Document Management|
Watch Video: Digital Technology Sabha Excellence Awards 2021 | DAY 2 Awards Ceremony
The last day (August 26, 2021) of the Digital Technology Sabha conference started with a special address session titled, ‘India becomes benchmark for delivering e-governance services using technology’ by Abhishek Singh, Joint Secretary, Chief Executive Officer, MyGov and President with CEO, NeGD, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India. He presented a holistic view of the various initiatives taken by the Government of India to celebrate technological adoption.
Singh said, “The Digilocker initiative is transformed into the National Academic Depository to benefit students. ‘Ghar Ghar Fibre’ scheme is promoting fibre optic network connectivity to villages. Umang platform has more than 1200 government services along with payment options to help the citizens. ‘National Language Transmission’ will allow citizens to communicate with each other in various Indian languages. The focus of the government is to ensure that digital services are accessible to citizens on a single button.”
The conference moved ahead with the next session titled, ‘Witness how Oracle India powers selected Government Ministries with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure’ in which Angiah Santhanaswamy, Director Business Development, Public Sector, Oracle India and Srihari Icharapu, Founder, Cargo Exchange discussed the digital document management system.
“Digital India gets a push as Oracle Cloud gets validated for India Stack. Digital document management and exchange platform has reduced long processes and allows seamless transition between paper and digital. All the services developers need to build cloud native applications,” mentioned Angiah Santhanaswamy, Director Business Development, Public Sector, Oracle India.
“Digilocker manages documents, generates e-signature and uploads it on the required portal. Package transfer on the Digilocker is done using blockchain technology,” commented Srihari Icharapu, Founder, Cargo Exchange.
The panel discussion, ‘Best practices for protecting India’s national assets against cyber attacks’ focused on the state of cyber security in India. “Cyber attacks either focus towards money or valuable data,” said Vijay Devnath, GM – I&S, MDMS & CISO, Center for Railway Information Systems (CRIS).
“Attacking public sectors gives publicity to the attackers,” mentioned Jayant Gupta, Chief General Manager – Information Systems (Technical), Infrastructure & Development, HPCL.
“Remote working infrastructure is more prone to cyber threats,” pointed out N. Raman, Group GM, CISO, ONGC.
“Constant monitoring gives an upper hand to prevent cyber threats on the dark web,” commented Dr Yask Sharma, CISO, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL).
“The cybersecurity concern has reached across all departments including the board,” highlighted Rohit Sharma, DGM (IT-Security), NTPC Limited.
“Convergence between OT and IT technology needs to be secured,” mentioned Michael Joseph, Director System Engineering, SAARC, Fortinet.
“Segmentation based networks are the need of the hour,” commented Rajesh Maurya, Regional Vice President, India and SAARC, Fortinet.
Suryanarayan CS, Country Product Manager, Aruba, India spoke about networking in his session titled, ‘Network with 6th sense’. He said, “Remote work management, data security and accountability are some of the challenges in networking. Citizens expect enhanced connectivity and access to digital services. According to Trends IDC FutureScape 2021 predictions, in 2021, 20 per cent of deployed local government devices will be compromised by cyber threats. AI is the future of the IT industry. Zero Trust security increases protection levels while simplifying operations.”
The conference moved ahead with a special address called, ‘Making India a product nation in times to come’ by Dr. Omkar Rai, Director General, Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India. He highlighted the need for technology adoption.
Rai expressed, “Aadhar offers multiple linked services to the citizens. The Indian IT infrastructure has contributed to the largest startup ecosystem in the world. ‘Centres of Excellence’ are promoting and training various technical departments like agritech, fintech, edtech, etc. The Centre of Entrepreneurship initiative provides support to learners and promotes innovation. Advance technology adoption has laid a foundation for smart projects in the future.”
Another power-packed panel discussion ‘Best practices to protect critical infrastructure from sophisticated cyber attacks’ took the conference ahead. Ankush Baveja, Sales Engineer, CrowdStrike; Anand Shankar, Senior GM, Information Security, POWERGRID; Snigdhodev Bhattacharya, Regional Manager (Government), CrowdStrike; Anil Sagar, Director (Scientist ‘F’) – Ministry of Electronics and IT, CERT-In and Gudisa Pala Raju, IPS, DIG, Technical Services participated in the discussion.
“Attackers are motivated by technological innovations, leading to new ways of e-crime,” commented Ankush Baveja, Sales Engineer, CrowdStrike.
“Lack of awareness and poor knowledge of latest technology are some of the key challenges leading to cyberattacks,” mentioned Anand Shankar, Senior GM, Information Security, POWERGRID.
“Threat intelligence must provide advanced information to prevent cyberattacks,” highlighted Snigdhodev Bhattacharya, Regional Manager (Government), CrowdStrike.
“We need to have complete visibility on our networks to prevent disruption of services,” said Anil Sagar, Director (Scientist ‘F’) – Ministry of Electronics and IT, CERT-In.
“Intelligent security analysis tools have a huge future in the world of cybersecurity,” commented Gudisa Pala Raju, IPS, DIG, Technical Services.
The panel discussion, ‘Lessons from successful e-governance projects’ saw eminent panelists like Sanjiv Mehta, Country Manager, AMD; R. Vardarajan, Addln. Director, Department of Information Technology & Communication & Board of Revenue for Rajasthan; V. Ranganath, Addln Central PF Commissioner, Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), India; Viswanath S N, Director – Projects, Andhra Pradesh Information Technology Academy (APITA); Dr. Shailesh Kumar Shrivastava, Scientist-F & Head Digital Government Research Centre, National Informatics Centre, Government of India and Mahesh Batra, DCP/IT – IT PHQ, Delhi Police.
“E-governance needs to have interoperability as sharing data is crucial for the development,” stressed Sanjiv Mehta, Country Manager, AMD.
“Connectivity across rural areas will reduce human efforts and benefit citizens,” highlighted R. Vardarajan, Addln. Director, Department of Information Technology & Communication & Board of Revenue for Rajasthan.
“The data and the intelligence has to be shared,” commented V. Ranganath, Addl Central PF Commissioner, Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), India.
“Integration of Aadhar card with various services has simplifies long processes,” highlighted Viswanath S N, Director – Projects, Andhra Pradesh Information Technology Academy (APITA)
“Mobile based governance has taken the citizen services to the remotest of the areas,” emphasised Dr. Shailesh Kumar Shrivastava, Scientist-F & Head Digital Government Research Centre, National Informatics Centre, Government of India.
“Mobile technology is helping citizens as various integrated services are provided on a single app,” said Mahesh Batra, DCP/IT – IT PHQ, Delhi Police.
In the fireside chat titled, ‘The Amazing Journey of Digital India’ Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India said, “Digital India has strengthened governance and impacted the lives of people. The government’s mission is to bring 400 million disconnected Indians online. The Covid-19 pandemic has given a push to adoption of technologies. Integrated platforms involving multiple languages will unify and bring citizens under the common technological umbrella. India has the human resource power to become the leader of technology in the world.”
The three-day event came to an end with the award ceremony to felicitate and celebrate the technological advancements by various government departments to benefit the citizens. The list of the winners is as following:
|Organisation Name||Award category|
|Pimpri Chinchwad Smart City Ltd||Unified Communications|
|National Informatics Centre, Akola||Document Management|
|CRPF (The Central Reserve Police Force)||Enterprise Mobility|
|Directorate of Municipal Administration, Govt. of Telangana||Enterprise Applications|
|Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, Govt of Jammu & Kashmir||Enterprise Applications|
|Govt of Maharashtra (Department of AR and OM)||Enterprise Applications|
|Department of IT and Electronics, GoUP||Data Centers|
|OCAC, Govt. of Odisha||Enterprise Applications|
Watch Video: Digital Technology Sabha Excellence Awards 2021 | DAY 3 Awards Ceremony