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Digital India: ICT for Improving Citizen Service Delivery

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The discussion at the 17th edition of Express Technology Sabha began with Subhomoy Bhattacharjee putting the question—“Are we getting the building blocks in place when it comes to Digital India?’

Tripurari Sharan, Principal Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of Bihar,  said, “There is an inherent intimacy between technology and philosophy. Are we in the  middle or the beginning of Digital India? Technology can be showed up, apps can be developed, connectivity can be developed, but what are you going to deliver and how efficiently are you going to deliver is going to depend on level of this intimacy.”  Even today, one of the major roadblocks in efficient governance is land records, land reforms and efficient management of lands. This philosophy captures the political will to do away with backward systems, but it needs political will to do away with appeasement of certain society which thrives on rent seeking.

“In agriculture, eight years, the  money spent on state plan was in double digits. In 8-9 years it has moved to Rs. 2200 crores. From macro point of view, this money is not going to industrialists, but is supposed to go to the farmers. 2/3rd of that money goes into subsidising. It is the individual farmer who is standing to benefit. If somebody tries to thwart, then he will be at the receiving end of people’s fury. We are now moving ahead to give them the benefit of online registration etc. Through that we are putting it directly into their account. Such solutions are non-invasive,” added Sharan.

Bhattacharjee then asked, “What type of government services can be available on demand? Have we started on digital evolution on 9 pillars?

Ashwini Kumar Sharma, Managing Director, National Institute of Electronics & Information Technology (NIELIT), Government of India,  “Most of the states have Data Center. For connectivity, they have SWAN. But there is a delay in creating of such infrastructure and in implementation. Hands-on experience is missing in implementations. There is just lot of theory. Private partners are not enthusiastic to work with us.”

“In Digital India, one of the major component is skill development. One person per family must be e-literate. We have to go for government process re-engineering. We have to train manpower,” he added.

P H Kurian, Principal Secretary, Department of Information Technology & Department of Industries, Government of Kerala said, “Mind-set change needs to happen to change the process. We are just beginning with Digital India. People also need to co-operate. Technology allows everything, inspite of it systems being complicated. The most important things is that Government of India should have national information infrastructure.”

Bhattacharjee then went on to ask: “What are the changes do we need to make to make Digital India happen?”  Tripurari Sharan, Principal Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of Bihar, said “IT literacy is important. It has to be challenged in a comprehensive fashion. There is a long route to be covered between mobile and digital literacy.

Our biggest challenge is to make our population move from agriculture to industry. Make in India won’t entirely solve unemployment issue. We have an offer from Japanese to set-up EMC in Rajgir. They want that space, and they would develop it. It would mean an entire network around it.”

Ranjan Dwivedi, Director General of Police and Commandant General Home Guards, Government of Uttar Pradesh said, “There have been two parallel wheels going on. Every politician wants to see things improved to get re-elected. Government servants are not people friendly. Government letter heads would usually bear name of the office. It won’t have telephone, no email address. It is very people unfriendly.”

According to him, one has to cut the interface between citizen and government through technology. The trick lies in merging mGov with facilities of citizen centric centres. There is also the issue of Indian languages. We need to mainstream Indian languages. Unless we mainstream Indian languages, the progress will not happen.

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