Interview

Moving Steady on the Path of e-Governance : C K Mathew, Principle Secretary, IT, Government of Rajasthan

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C K Mathew, Principle Secretary, IT, Government of Rajasthan

What is the approach adopted in implementing the state Mission Mode Project (MMP)? What is the progress of their implementation?

The two main  projects being implemented in the state are the state wide area network (SWAN) and the common service centres (CSC) projects. The request for proposal (RFP) for SWAN is to be shortly floated. The bids for the CSC have been received and are in the process of finalisation.

How would you rate your state’s progress towards making it an e-Ready state?

There has been a steady progress in the assessment of the state insofar as e-Readiness is concerned. There is a movement upwards in the 2005 report of the Government of India as compared with the 2004 report. We hope to go further upwards in the 2006 which is now expected. The fact that IT majors like Infosys, Wipro and Genpact have already invested in the State in the special economic zone (SEZs) should be adequate confirmation of this fact. Our recently launched IT Policy is another  step forward in making the state e-Ready.

What are the business opportunities for the private sector in implementing the various e-Governance projects running in your state?

The state government has launched a new IT and ITES policy 2007. One of the three main chapters of the policy, deals with providing a conducive atmosphere for private sector. The details are available at www.rajasthan.gov.in/ITPOLICY The policy provides specific incentives and relief to the investor in the form of cost of the land, stamp duty concessions, exemption from various provisions of labour laws, subsidies for staff wages, advantages to the first mover and so forth. A long-standing demand for making industrial tariff for power applicable for IT sector, instead of commercial category tariff, has been conceded. We are confident that these facilities shall create an atmosphere that will encourage the investor to take a closer look at Rajasthan as he makes his investment decisions.

What are some of the best PPP practices in your state?

The e-Mitra citizen centric project, which recently won an award from the Government of India is a flagship programme of the department. This project delivers a basket of services including the facility for payment of bills, ticketing, copies of records etc., at around 700 computer kiosks spready thoughout the state.

What are the services that are being delivered / planned to be delivered through Common Service Centres (CSCs)? What are the steps being taken for a better user experience (e.g. localisation, etc.)?

The experience we have already gained from the e-Mitra project should stand us in good stead in the CSC, which is really an extension of the same concept. In Rajasthan we have taken a decision to allot these village kiosks only to women entrepreneurs. The scheme itself provides for taking into consideration the local flavour of the needs of the populace there. We shall be taking all the steps to see that all local aspirations from the project are adequately addressed.

Please share with us on the capacity building programmes being planned / implemented in your state.

For government employees: We have recently signed memorandum of understanding with some IT training partners such as Compucom, REIL, Tally etc. to carrying out training programmes for government employees not only at Jaipur, but in District Headquarters. The District Computer Training Centres at each district headquarter shall be utilised for this purpose. We also have a state-of-the-art training facility at Secretariat for officers posted here. Further, the Department of Information Technology also has a separate training campus at Jaipur for departmental training.

For others: We have entered into agreements with IT companies like Genpact and Infosys for training of college students in their second or third year of graduation. This is most essential for a state like Rajasthan so that the talent of our youth are developed so as to make them employable in the IT/ITenabled services sector. Financial incentives will also be provided for training institutions, provided they are able to place the trained youth in jobs in the state. In addition, we are in the process of setting up a Rajasthan Knowledge Corporation, which has the primary responsibility of skill development of our youth on a large skill so that employment in the sector becomes a reality for them staring from the coming year.

What are the evaluation and monitoring techniques that you are adopting to monitor the progress and to assess whether the proposed benefits are being delivered to the citizens?

There is a four-tier structure for monitoring and supervising the IT projects. At the top is a council chaired by the Chief Minister herself. At the second level is a committee chaired by the Chief Secretary who also reviews the various IT projects in the State in the departmental reviews at his level. There are also two committees, one at the level of the Principal Secretary of the IT Department and the other at the level of the concerned Secretary of each Department where the projects are being implemented. The main purpose of all these Committees is to oversee the implementation of the projects and to ensure that the objectives of the projects are actually achieved.

What are your state’s key achievements in implementing e-Governance projects?

Various projects have been undertaken and successful such as e-Mitra, Chief Minister’s Information System– CMIS, Common Service Centers, Swasthya Mitra: Telemedicine, ‘Aarakshi’ – e-FIR application, Registration and Stamps Department project (SAARTHI) Land  records computerisation, A Right to Information (RTI) Portal is being developed and the  VAT-IT project is being implemented. To achieve the goal of complete e-Governance in the State, various Departments have been taken up for backend computerization.

e-Procurement, Vikas Darpan, Preparation of e-Governance Roadmap, Computerisation of  courts, Litigation Information, Tracking and Evaluation System (LITES), IT enabling of municipal bodies are some of the other achievements. A lot of work has also been done for the  creation of the IT infrastructure. Wi-Fi City, Video Conferencing Network, Secretariat  Networking (SecLAN), State Data Centre (SDC), Mobile V-SAT vans, Rajasthan State Wide  Area Network, e-District, Human Resource Development, Capacity Building in Government Domain and Bio-informatics Center.

What are some of the challenges that you are facing in implementing the e-Governance projects? How are they being overcome?

The main challenge isbusiness re-engineering processes so that the very way by which government work is transacted is transformed. This requires much tenacity and determination and perhaps even getting rid of some vested interests. Some departments have been identifi ed and are working in this direction.

What is going to be your main focus for the next few
years?

The implementation of the IT policy shall be the main focus of the Department of IT in the  State. It is also necessary that we work with the Departments of Higher Education and Technical Education to ensure that our young men and women are adequately trained and  their skills upgraded so as to make them employable in the IT/ITES sector: this is indeed the  single most important agenda that that we have to address.

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