August 2005

News Review 2005

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India

AP government wins five e-Governance awards…
Computer Society of India (CSI) in association with the Union Government and Nihilent Technologies, have recently announced ‘CSI-Nihilent e-Governance awards 2004’ in which Andhra Pradesh bagged five awards.

State Secretary to IT and Communications Department, K Ratna Prabha has said that Jawahar knowledge centre and student knowledge fora were selected as winners in best ‘e-Governance project in terms of their sustainability’, e-Village Chilivur at Guntur district under Rajiv programme in terms of e-Governance project for their cost-effectiveness and ‘e-Governed state’ in terms of policy framework and e-Readiness.


…e-SEVA centres to start Land Certification services

Acquiring landholding certificates is going to be much less tedious process for people of Andhra Pradesh. e-Seva centres started by the state government will be providing land certification services to the public. After some preliminary trial run of this service in select centres, the facility is now being extended over the entire district of Ranga Reddy. About ten million people residing in the district is expected to be benefited from this service. At present there are 230 eSeva centres spread in the entire district. Read more about egov on page 8 in this issue.


Assam government to boost up e-Governance
To give a boost to e-Governance, Assam Government is set to sign an memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Institute for Smart Government (NISG), Hyderabad.

A draft of the MoU has been worked out and the state government aims at harnessing the immense potential of ICT through the proposed tie-up between the Hyderabad institute and the Assam Administrative Staff College.


Land registration records goes online in Bihar
In Bihar, land registration records would be available online and people would now be able to download them, too. The information and technology (IT) and registration departments are jointly implementing an e-Governance project seeking to digitise the state’s entire registration documents, executed during 1991-2000. Completion of the work is expected by the end of this year, after 8-lakh documents with more than one-crore pages are recorded.


Delhi government’s initiative to convert normal classrooms into multimedia centres
The Delhi government is all set to launch a Computer Aided Learning (CAL) project in 200 government-run schools in association with leading multinational consultants such as Earnst & Young (E&Y) in order to convert the normal classroom into multimedia classroom.

The Directorate of Education has signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with E&Y to flag off the project on a pilot basis in 200 schools through the Universal Elementary Education (UEE) Mission. This is part of the initiative by the Education Department to bridge the gap between the children studying in government schools and those who pass out from public schools. The objective of the project is also to reduce the drop-out rate from sixth standard onwards as the trend has been that a large number of students after completing their primary education in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) schools till fifth standard are not able to reach the government schools for various reasons.


Himachal Pradesh begins video-conferencing facility

Recently video-conferencing facility was started in Himachal Pradesh set up by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). Himachal Pradesh becomes the fourth state in the country to avail the facility after Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal. The Chief Minister said that it must be ensured that all secretaries and heads of the departments held their meetings with the district-level officers regularly using this facility. The zonal and divisional officers should also carry out their periodical reviews in a similar manner. In fact, ministers and senior officers could even interact with the citizens directly using video-conferencing.


Centre provides $6.66 million for Maharashtra’s e-Governance project
In India, Maharashtra government’s plan to connect its administrative headquarters with local offices in the state to implement e-Governance projects of various departments received a boost with the Centre allotting $6.66 million for setting up optical fibre cable connectivity to district headquarters and taluka headquarters. The facility of video conferencing would also be provided in all the districts to enable Ministry officials to communicate with district officials. The first batch of 25 officials have been trained and they would be providing the same training to juniors in their respective offices. The state government also plans to start training centres at taluka and district levels to educate employees on the use of computers.


UK visa status available on SMS
From now on Indians going to UK can track their visa applications through an easy and convenient service over their mobile phones. Visa and passport status can be obtained by SMS-ing to 7333 from any mobile phone across all service provider, on both GSM and CDMA. The Visa Department of the British High Commission has outsourced this service to Visa Facilitation Services, which is providing this facility in India. This service was started keeping in mind the growing number of Indians travelling to UK. According to 2004 figures about half a million Indians travelled between UK and India and about 0.3 million UK visa applications were processed in India.


UPSC of India to introduce on-line government recruitment
Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is planning to put to select government jobs on a fast-track recruitment by intorducing on-line application and processing. Following a visit to London, the UPSC Chairman has proposed to introduce this system in order to reduce the current recruitment time of nine months for appointing civil servants. However, the Chairman was of opinion that it will not be feasible to completely switch over to on-line recruitment, as a majority of rural Indians still do not have proper access to Internet.


Indian Judicial system to be modernised through IT infrastructure


Government of India has announced a comprehensive plan to modernise the Judicial system of the country by using IT infrastructure. Government has drawn up this programme involving a review of judicial manpower at all levels in consultation with Chief Justice R C Lahoti. There are plans for complete computerisation of all Judicial offices across the country and inter-linking them using connectivity technologies. Apart from that the term for the existing 1,562 fast-track courts have been extended by five years to March 2010 for clearing the huge pendency of cases at district level.


Rural India to get Internet connectivity for e-governance
The Panchayati Raj Ministry of India has allocated 10800 million rupees to connect 240, 000 panchayats (rural government bodies) to the Internet. This will be done with the intention to give a fillip to e-governance initiatives of the Government. This has recently been announced as a ‘mission mode project’, with a provision of 1000 million rupees for training half a million panchayat staff, taking two members from each panchayat.The project is expected to be completed by October 15, 2007.


NIC, UNESCO jointly launch e-Government toolkit
A toolkit to help policy makers and senior executives in developing countries on how and when to start successfully e-Government projects is recently published by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and India’s National Informatics Centre (NIC) as a contribution to promote transparency in public administrations and democratic processes.

The toolkit, that is available on CD-ROM, aims to demystify the concepts behind e-Government and strengthen the understanding of all those involved in the planning and execution of e-Government projects. The toolkit offers an action framework involving all stakeholders in developing countries and guide them through various phases in their e-Government initiatives.


Indian Railways to begin on-line issuing of Railway Receipts for freight booking
Indian Railways is in the process of introducing the facility of on-line issuing of Railway Receipt (RR) for booking freights and goods. Under this facility customers would be able to print and issue their RRs at select destinations. This facility is already available in the Southern, South Central and East Central Railways and very soon it will be available to all Zonal Railways. As of now, RRs are issued manually at goods sheds where the customer pays for his goods and later uses the true receipt (not a copy of it) at the destination end to claim the goods. Thus, RRs have to be physically couriered to the destination so that it can be handed over at the receiving end. Once the system is introduced, the customer would no longer need to courier the RR at the destination, as the destination station officials can access the receipt online and get a print-out if necessary.


India’s Ministry of Comapny Affairs to go for an automation overhaul

The Ministry of Company Affairs of Government of India is going for complete automation and computerisation in order to provide on-line accessibility of information for companies on various aspects of company law, regulations, methods and procedures. Indian IT firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has been engaged to design and implement the project, which is expected to be completed by the middle of next year. This initiative would help the Ministry to spearhead its e-governance initiatives in the coming days.


Corporate leaders announce a joint initiative to bridge the digital divide


Wyse Technologies, the global leader in network-centric computing, Comat Technologies, Ltd, a leading e-governance company based in Bangalore, and ICICI Bank, the largest private bank in India, are jointly announcing an initiative to deliver electronic access to vital educational, financial and social services in select rural areas in the state of Karnataka, India. The pilot project to deploy these “Rural Business Centers” (RBCs) officially started on June 16, 2005. They will also look forward to helping more companies join the RBC network to bring additional services to rural communities. This is the first time when these communities will be able to access and interact with leading private enterprises, such as ICICI Bank, and other service providers in the insurance and education sector.


China

Chinese city invests US$17 million in e-Government
Huian City in China is going for a large investment in e-Government infrastructure and services. Huian City Government in China has chosen China Expert Technology (CXTI) for a US$17 million contract to implement its e-government services program, ranging from hardware and e-government training facilities to call centre services. Apart from this, Beijing’s Municipal Office of Informatization has said that around 72 per cent of tax reports are now submitted through the internet, according to China Daily. Farmers are also making extensive use of online systems and in one township 57 per cent of the total peach output in 2004 was sold through online channels.


United Kingdom

UK cities rule top ten list of European cities for e-Government
University of Zaragoza in Spain has recently conducted an e-Government readiness survey for European cities. According to this study, 6 out of the top 10 European cities for e-governance come from the United Kingdom. The study covered around 35 European cities having more than 500,000 inhabitants, across 12 EU Member States. The study found that the majority of European cities are still mostly offering non-interactive e-government services and non-deliberative e-democracy facilities. The survey came out with Birmingham, Barcelona and Amsterdam at top three positions respectively.


South Korea

South Korean city of Busan equips citizens with smart cards
The South Korean city of Busan has issued a new smart card to enable citizens pay for public transport and gain access to municipal government services. The ‘e-Smart-MYbi’ cards launched by Busan authorities will be issue to the entire 3.65 million population of the city. These cards were developed following an agreement between the city government, MYbi Company, an e-currency infrastructure provider for public transport and micro payments in South Korea, and smart card provider e-Smart Technologies. These cards based on biometric technologies can be used as e-government ID cards and as payment cards for mass transportation, as well as for banking transactions, etc.

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