September 2008

eINDIA2008 :Towards Joined-Up Government

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eINDIA2008

eINDIA2008, the India’s largest information communication technologies event, was held from July 29-July 31, 2008, at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. The conference-cum-exhibition, attended by more than 6000 participants, provided a collaborative forum to share knowledge and ideas enabling the participants  to develop multinational and cross-industry contacts and partnerships as well as to enhance their knowledge, expertise and abilities. The eINDIA2008 conference had six seminal tracks – e-Governance, Digital Learning, Telecentre Forum, eHealth, MobileServe and e-Agriculture. The event was organised by the Centre for Science Development and Media Studies (CSDMS), with active support from the Ministry of Communications and IT, Government of India, UN (Gobal Alliance of ICT for Development) GAID, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and the Ministries of Human Resource Development, Urban Development and Panchayati Raj. The different state partners for the event included the governments of Jharkhand, Manipur, West Bengal, Directorate of Higher Education, Government of National Capital Territory and Kerala State Information Technology Mission. There was also an active participation of the private sector in the conference and exhibition.

Inauguration

The inaugural session was graced by D Purandeswari, Union Minister of State for Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, Jainder Singh,  Secretary, Department of IT, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India, Subash Pani, Secretary, Planning Commission, Government of India, R Chandrasekhar, Additional Secretary, Department of IT, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India, Michael Rawding, Vice President, Unlimited Potential Group, Microsoft Corporation and Praveen Vishakantaiah, President, Intel India.

The luminaries inaugurated the event by the traditional lighting of the lamp. Dr MP Narayanan, President, CSDMS, gave the welcome address. In her inaugural address, D Purandeswari announced the proposed plan of the central government to launch a scheme called ‘National Mission in Education through ICT’ to provide connectivity to the learners so that they can link themselves to the knowledge world in cyberspace and to make these learners ‘Netizens’ in order to enhance their self learning skills and develop their capabilities for online problem solving. Emphasing the importance of Information and Communication Technologies in attaining the goal of a knowledge-based society, she said that in order to deliver the benefits of ICT-enabled learning, the National Mission would focus attention on achieving technological breakthrough by developing a very low-cost and low-power consuming access device, making available free bandwidth for education purpose to every Indian.

The inaugural session concluded with the vote of thanks by Ravi Gupta, Executive Director, CSDMS, who then invited the eminent delegates to inaugurate the eINDIA2008 exhibition.

egov India 2008

Objectives

egov INDIA2008 is the fourth in its series and one of the important tracks in this annual eINDIA event. The conference provided a platform for all stakeholders, policy-makers, practitioners, industry leaders, academicians and architects of e-Government projects, to discuss the achievements, challenges, and the progress made towards achieving the goals of e-Governance.

In India, we are witnessing that some states are far ahead in e-Governance, while some have just begun their journey. egov INDIA2008 aimed to fulfill the need to create a common ground for equitable governance provision, which in turn will facilitate a process of overall development of the country. Along with the exhibition, the conference was a forum to showcase best practices, innovative technologies and ICT solutions. It also provided an opportunity to meet face to face with hundreds of potential customers in the fastest growing economies of Asia.

Participation
The conference was attended by the Heads of e-Government, Chief Information Officers and Chief Technical Officers, IT Directors and Managers, Heads of Information and Communication, Public Administrators, IT Project Directors, Integration and Development Managers, Technical Architects, ICT Services Directors, Strategic Planners and Information Systems Managers.

The egov track conference was sponsored by Sify Technologies Limited, Sun Microsystems, Visa, HughesNet Fusion, CrimsonLogic, eSangathan, Hitachi Data Systems India Pvt. Ltd. and NIIT Technologies. The exhibitors’ for egov conference were Atom Technologies Ltd., Check Point, Dell, Digital Advantage, FINO, NexTenders, Project Management Associates and SafeNet. The exhibition provided an opportunity for updating on new advancements, solutions and services in the field of e-Governance.

The conference was supported by national and international government and development agencies, such as EPF (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland), GTZ, Manufacturers Association for IT (MAIT), National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies (RCUES) and World Bank.

Proceedings

The egov India conference comprised three days of key note sessions and panel discussion sessions.

Session: The Future of e-Governance in India: Government 2.0 and Beyond
The conference started with the key note session titled ‘The Future of e-Governance in India: Government 2.0 and Beyond’. The session was chaired by J Satyanarayana, CEO, national Institute of Smart Government. He defined the joined-up government as the single face of government presented to the citizens. Government could be joined up vertically (central, state and local governments), horizontally (multiple, related departments and agencies) and functionally (domains like welfare, healthcare, education, farm sector, industry and business). According to him, the success of the joined-up government depends upon:

  • Achieving clarity on ‘what’, ‘how’, ‘who’ and ‘with what’
  • Ensuring that success can be measured
  • Establishing metrics for quality of service
  • Designing appropriate business models
  • Building capacity
  • Creating environment for speedy decisions

Oleg Petrov, Coordinator, e-Development Thematic Group, Global ICT Department, World Bank, emphasised that no reform strategy can ignore the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) today. According to him, the public sector reform strategy, which does not take fully into account the digital dimension will be outdated upon arrival. The old model of ICT implementation, Gov 1.0 involved high cost but yielded limited results.

On the other hand, he defined Gov 2.0, as the new-generation model of ICT-enabled government transformation into open, participatory, citizen-centric/driven and highly integrated government (both vertically and horizontally). This new model breaks down organisational silos, creating horizontal, whole-of-government structures, communities and practice groups, has a comprehensive back-end integration and sharing corp;orate services and systems, comprehensive process re-engineering that leverages fully the power of ICT, comprehensive change management, active participation of the citizens in policy and decision-making and service design and delivery and widespread use of Web 2.0 technologies, approaches and values.

Basheerhamed Shadrach, Senior Programme Officer, telecentre.org, International Development Research Centre, talked about the correlation between corruption, poor governance and human development and gave a few recommendations to make e-Governance efforts serve the agenda of anti-corruption and thus good governance. According to him, the latest tools and the ICT revolution in themselves shall act as means to the change inflicted upon societies.  Hence, taking advantage of web 2.0 tools and the many new inventions in ICT field combined with citizen-centric, citizen-led knowledge centres as public spaces, the governments will need to design their ICT-led e-Government tools.

Jaijit Bhattacharya, Country Manager, Sun Microsystems, defined eGov 2.0 as an evolutionary step towards a more efficient, inclusive and participative government through adoption of a set of new trends in business models, operational, financial and technological models. He made a comparison between Gov 1.0 with Gov 2.0. The Gov 1.0 communities are targeted, while that of Gov 2.0 is self-organising. The bandwidth is limited for Gov 1.0 while it is widely available for Gov 2.0. The focus of Gov 1.0 is technical, while that for Gov 2.0 is creation.

Niraj Prakash, General Manager, SAP India, recommended for closing the gap between strategy and execution of IT by empowering people, integrating processes, managing information, consolidating and governing IT and running and optimising IT. Consolidating and governing of IT reduces complexity and the risk of IT, while empowering and connecting people, through using web 2.0 tools among others, leads to increased user productivity and satisfaction from IT.

Session:  Citizen-centric e-Governance in India: How Close/Far are we from the Goal?

The second key note session on citizen-centric e-Governance in India was chaired by R. Chandrashekhar, Additional Secretary, Department of Information Technology, (DIT). He began the session by stating the vision of National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) as making all government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets and ensuring efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable cost to realise the basic needs of the common man. The hard infrastructure in place to realise this vision is State Wide Area Network (SWAN), Common Service Centres (CSC) and State Data Centres (SDC), while the soft infrastructure required is state portal, state e-Service delivery gateway, creating and enabling e-Forms for all services and notifying standards progressively. On the other hand, the human resources required include composing state e-Mission, composite and project mission teams, and creating awareness.

According to him, the ultimate criterion for measuring progress is measuring the percentage of services e-Enabled and the percentage of people having access to e-Services. Partha Bhattacharya, Chairman, Coal India Limited (CIL), talked about the implementation of ICT in CIL. He first shared the background of implementing e-Procurement in CIL. According to him, to provide a commodity like coal, which is so heavily discounted at international market, one runs the risk of black marketing. It was to solve this issue that they introduced e-Marketing. Previously, when any large-value tender was issued by CIL, it was found that a group of suppliers  formed a cartel and quoted the same price. This could be broken by resorting to e-Procurement and putting the condition that no two companies could quote the same price. As a result, CIL could do the entire procurement without getting into the hands of a cartel.

With Right to Information (RTI) coming into implementation, the effort at CIL is to put as much information, about CIL, on the website, which has brought about transparency in CIL.

M. Raman, Director General, Directorate General for Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D), Ministry of Commerce, explained the initiation of e-Procurement system in DGS&D. DGS&D is planning to make it mandatory to submit bid applications online and submit the bills online, for some products. The Directorate is currently addressing issues like hardware, data centre, bandwidth, connectivity between various departments. However, Raman feels that till there is a change in the mindset, political will and pro-active bureaucracy, the efforts towards e-Governance would be a waste.

Sudhir Krishna, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, informed about the e-Governance efforts being taken in the Panchayati Raj institutions (PRIs), as part of the implementation of NeGP. The objective of the project is to make the PRIs more efficient, effective and transparent. A centrally sponsored scheme spanning three years, covers all the Panchayats at district, block and village levels (0.25 million) and cost INR 683.2 million. Two-thirds of gram panchayats (GP) and block panchayats (BP) are being provided computing facility, each identified GP is being given one computer, printer-cum-scanner, one UPS, webcam and pen drive. For capacity building, trained computer operator to each GP and BP, training is being provided to staff in GP, BP and District panchayats and orientation is being given to elected representatives about e-Governance, in general, and e-PRI project in particular. Sudhir Krishna listed some of the issues that need to be addressed in implementing the e-PRI project. These include funding, last mile connectivity, involvement of private sector, integration with the ongoing development and NeGP programmes, sustainability of the programme, vertical and horizontal integration.

Pramod Saxena, Chairman and Managing Director, Oxigen, India, told that there is a business model which can be operationalised to ensure services for masses in a simple and feasible way. In this regard, mobiles and wireless technology provides great access. He recommended for a simple and user friendly, tiered security for different target segments and utility providers provision service fee for viability of rural kiosks. He informed about his company’s Oxicash platform, which can be used for repayments, micro-payments, micro-finance related payments, micro-insurance among other things. Through mobile phones, Oxigen is providing a bank like experience for monetary stransactions in a secured way.

Session:  Government 2.0 and Beyond: The Next Generation of Government Transformation

The session discussed how to transform governments and take advantage of all the features offered under Web 2.0, the next generation of e-Government. The session also included discussions from India, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and US.

R Chandrashekhar started the session by talking about what he felt government’s should do to incorporate emerging technologies into e-Government. He spoke about the difficulty of managing the transitions as governments moved more of their services online. He also emphasised that collaboration does not magically come about through the use of technology, agencies and departments should be willing to share information. e-Government will have very little impact until it can be accessed and use by everyone regardless of their location. What is most important is for governments to understand what methods, processes work best for them and what is not working. They need to strategise on what is working for them and what is not.

Randeep Sudan, e-Government Practice Leader, Global ICT Department (GICT), World Bank. He spoke about the need to reassess government or public sector involvement in certain sectors where the private sector had an immense advantage. However delivery of a personalised service requires that all databases converge on a single point. Interoperability is the key and this needs to be worked on. Next Randeep focused on how he thought that developing countries could benefit greatly by using cloud computing as a platform for providing the citizens with the benefits and services they required in a personalised manner. Examples of cloud computing are the applications provided by Google Apps, Word processing, spreadsheets.The benefits of using cloud computing for hosting and providing benefits and services is that it allows to store the information that users provide and also the important data points on each user and what they would need.

Anthony Williams, Vice President, Government 2.0, nGenera Insight, talked about how traditional entities were being displaced by more collaborative services and how these new ecosystems necessitated working with new channels and intermediaries. Governments should adopt many of the collaborative tools used by social networking and other Internet applications, such as blogging, wikis, shared bookmarks. According to him, governments need to engage in a conversation with the citizens on all issues and have a continued dialogue.

In the Q&A that followed, several representatives from Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and US provided an update on where they are in terms of integrating e-Government services and applications.

Session:  Web Quality- A Pre-requisite for Successful e-Governance

The session, chaired by Dr. S L Sarnot, Director General, Standardisation, Testing and Quality Certification (STQC), had discussion on issues such as website quality assessment by STQC, website quality and international scenario by GTZ (Germany), need for standardisation, technology offering solutions for embedded website quality by industry, content standardisation and addressing citizens perspective and legal issues.

Neeta Verma, Senior Technical Director, National Informatics Centre, Delhi, presented the delegates with the guidelines for Indian government websites. According to her, it is important to set up a mechanism to ensure certain minimum standard for all government websites. These guidelines aims to:

  • Improve the overall usability quotient and technical competence of the Indian Government websites vis-a-vis International Standards.
  • Facilitate Indian Government websites in achieving citizen-centricity while providing anytime-anywhere delivery of government information and services.
  • Formulate policies for sustenance and effective maintenance of the Indian Government websites
  •  Achieve, in the long run, a certain degree of commonality and standardisation across the Indian Government websites.
  • Enhance the Government-Citizen Relationship

The guidelines would address the complete life-cycle of the website or a portal- planning, content, design, development, hosting, promotion and management.

U K Nandwani, Director, STQC, IT Services, talked about the Website Quality Certification (WQC) for government (public) websites and portals and for the private websites and portals. WQC gives websites a recognition that  website is usable, safe and meets national requirements, that the organisations have adequate procedures and processes in place to provide reliable information and services through their website. The WQC also provide assured quality of service website, secure transactional website and assured functional website.

Ricarda Wildemann, Technical Advisor, Economic Development through e-Government, GTZ, presented the international scenario relating to website quality and e-Governance. e-Governance in India has to address the issue of disparity, given the fact that 46 million Internet users (4% of the population) are largely limited to English-speaking urban population. e-Governance can bridge the divide through e-Inclusion, which is an integral part of quality of e-Governance. She recommended both technical as well as non-technical solutions to address this issue.

Vakul Sharma, Advocate, Supreme Court of India, highlighted the legal issues in websites. He reinforced that a website owner has to enter two different sets of Agreements: Agreements with the users/consumers and Agreements with other service providers. The bottomline of the privacy policy is the presumption that an organisation should never collect information unless it has a legitimate and clearly defined purpose, discloses that purpose to the person, gets their permission to use it for that purpose and keeps the data only so long as it’s needed for the stated purpose. He informed that the legal obligations under services can arise from the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (CPA). Therefore, any person availing any information will be a consumer, and public or private authorities which provide any such services would be under legal obligations, as provided in CPA.

The presentation of Ashish Mehta, Senior Consultant, Oracle, was on the technology offering solutions for embedded website quality – Web Content Management with Oracle Universal Content Management (UCM) and WebCentre. For users combined solution provides single user interface to access content, process, systems and people.  For web content management platform the solution provides consistent contribution experience across multiple sites and applications. The combined solution brings about process efficiencies by eliminating redundant steps such as uploading content to multiple applications, among others.

Session:  Government Data Centres: The Storehouse for Information

The session was chaired by Patrick Kishore, Chief Information Security Officer, State Bank of India, who from his experience of running one of the largest data centres in the country, gave certain suggestions for establishing government data centres. Some of the main recommendations that he gave are given below:

  1. Since data centres are “power guzzlers”, consume a lot of power.Therfore, by keeping the storage low power consumption could be moderated.
  2. Locate the data centres close to the power generation centres, where there is assured power supply or no transmission losses.
  3. Government needs to take a decision regarding whether one-single data centre for the whole state or the country is needed or not. Such a data centre is going to be huge and will consume lot of power. Alternatively, government could think of having multiple data centres involving several departments, within the state.
  4. As air-conditioning is a major requirement of the data centres, data centres could be located in cooler places.
  5. Government data centres should be compliant with the best in the world. For assured security of government data, it would be a good idea to locate data centres in locations that are already secure and have strong physical control.
  6. Data centres should be planned for expansion. They should be planned to accommodate twice the number of applications that are already there.

Krishnan B. Nair, Business Development Manager, Kerala State Information Tecnology (KSIT) Mission, Government of Kerala, informed about the capacity building plan in KSIT Mission.

Dr. Magdy El Henawy, Family Card Project Manager, Ministry for State of Administrative Development, Egypt, described the family card project in Egypt. The card guarantees various supports and services to the deserving people, namely: subsidy (commodities), solidarity pension, medical, transportation, education, and so forth. The card has been integrated with the other national databases. Twelve million families out of 17 millions have been converted into an electronic form, revised, covering all Egypt governorates. According to him, accuracy, security, and integrity are very important issues for family data. In family card project, social issues are more important than the technical issues. He informed that the biggest challenge to such a project is ensuring security and integrity of the database, which is where the government data centres comes into play.

Prashant Periera, Manager Products, Sify Technologies, informed some of the challenges in different stages- design, implementation, sustenance and management, in implementing the data centres. In this regard, the private players can offer design as per TIA 942 (a standard developed by the Telecommunications Industry Association to define guidelines for planning and building data  centres), provide best practices in all stages of data centre, high availability and security and make data centre greener, among other things.

He told about Sify data centres which has a capacity of  2,00,000 sq ft,  15 MVA power, which are running successfully for more than 8 years with 90% of load and highest levels  of uptime.

Rajendra Dhavale, Director, Technical-Sales, Computer Associates, explained some of the operational and management issues in data centres implementation. These are complex and constantly changing IT environment, heterogeneous operating systems, database and application environment, optimisation of data centre operations, lack of sustainable IT operations staff, server consolidation and space optimisation, common policy for standardisation/compliance and common security controls. He suggested freeware/shareware, element manager and enterprise IT management, as some of the possible approaches for managing and securing state data centres.

Srikant Chakrapani, Director, Enterprise Solutions, Hitachi Data Solutions India Pvt. Ltd., told that the major issues to address while designing and operationalising data centres are operational  efficiency, compliance with regulations, protection of assets and operational resiliency. He informed about the Hitachi Universal Storage Platform V, where one can create a large number of thinly provisioned volumes of all sizes – each drawing from the same pool of capacity. According to him, the service oriented storage, is responsive and agile to business needs by deploying or extending storage services, are cost efficient through consolidation and the ability to leverage or reuse storage assets for strategic value and provide consistent and reliable quality of service  with proven enterprise availability and reliability.

Session:  State Wide Area Network: Core Infrastructure for Government Services

The panel discussion on State Wide Area Network (SWAN) focussed on issues such as network performance and service level monitoring issues – the role of third party agencies, seamless integration of SWAN with other e-Governance infrastructure like SDC, Common Service Centres (CSC) and last mile connectivity, readiness / application content issues related to SWAN, bandwidth related issues, private sector players and technology stakeholders of the SWAN, success stories and pitfalls.

Ashish Sanyal, Senior Technical Director, Department of Information Technology, GoI, the moderator for the discussion said that guidelines for SWAN implementation were conceptualised and put forth in October 2004.

Alok Chaturvedi, IT Secretary Bihar, speaking Bihar SWAN said that three years ago Bihar was at the rock bottom of the pyramid in e-Governance preparedness.  Now Bihar is among the top performers in the country.  Under Bihar SWAN all its districts are connected and man power is being provided. Meticulous planning is in progress to expand connectivity through VSAT and fibre optics and possibilities for alternate back up connectivity are being explored. Request for proposals (RFP) for horizontal SWAN are being issued. On the other hand availability of power at blocks, poor quality of media (copper) being used for connectivity, man power, service operator issues remain the nagging concerns.

Madhav Redddy, Senior Technical Director, National Informatics Centre (NIC) said NIC in association with National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) is implementing SWAN in nine states: Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, Tripura, Chandigarh, Delhi, Pondicherry, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur and Uttarakhand. He observed that smaller states were more aggressive in implementation and therefore implementation of SWAN went according to the plan in Sikkim, Tripura, Delhi and other smaller states. In states like Uttar Pradesh delay in decision making is the reason for delayed progress. However, UP made encouraging progress after the decisions have been taken. He further said that site preparation issues are crucial for implementing SWAN and providing connectivity.

H.S. Bedi, CMD Tulip Telecom, speaking on the occasion said that Tulip  implemented the SWAN for Government of Haryana and currently implementing SWAN for West Bengal and Assam. He emphasised that the biggest challenge in taking SWAN forward is its ‘application’ and data connectivity will become the key for its success. He called for competition and redundancy in service providers and suggested that complete data connectivity should be MPLS based as it will be easier to scale up and meet bandwidth demand as the applications keep coming. He also expressed concern over the delay in payments to the service providers and system integrators.

Ashish Sanyal observed that whatever the government has conceptualised in 2005 regarding telecom services may not be valid today as the needs in this competitive environment are dynamic.

Tanmoy Chakrabarty, Vice President TCS said that TCS is involved in delivering SWAN to Bihar and Tamil Nadu. The implementation of the troika SWAN, SDC, CSC, as conceptualised under NeGP should be synchronised. He expressed that the bandwidth created for SWAN should be utilised simultaneously before the technological advancements render it obsolete. He called for a true spirit of partnership between the public and the private. He also expressed concern over the delays in payments for the service providers. He further said that there is need for rationalisation for achieving desired objectives and was critical over the governments approach which is creating delays in establishing NeGP infrastructure. Ashis Sanyal, responding to Tanmoy’s remarks said that all aspects of SWAN are greenfield areas for all the stakeholders involved. As far as technology is concerned five years is a learning time and our progress is encouraging.

Sanjeev Seth, deputy Director General, (Commercial) Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), in response to the issues raised by fellow panelists said that the BSNL’s network was supposed to be a retail network to increase tele-density and voice connectivity and was never meant for this kind of unparalleled project (NeGP). Bandwidth is one of the elements of infrastructure and is dependent on the availability other elements such as power, physical connectivity of exchanges etc. With due consideration of existing infrastructure. BSNL is planning to provide at least 2mbps to each and every CSC and for this we need a robust wire line network, which would also become essential to sustain NeGP infrastructure in future when bandwidth requirement will be of terra byte magnitude. He further said that the policies should be flexible to address the issues that will crop up in the course of SWAN’s evolution.

YS Mallik, Commissioner and Secretary IT, Government of Haryana said that in Haryana SWAN is operational and we are on the road to establish the three pilaars as envisaged in NeGP. However, simultaneous concerns on its purpose and utility are cropping up. He called for a reduction of gap between all the stakeholders involved in this project and all the stakeholders should go for a introspection and realise that NeGP is not about adopting ICTs for development but for Good Governance. Both the public and the private should work with a true spirit of partnership. Reconciliation should be there from both the sides to break the ice and to balance the interests.

Session: Capacity Building and Change Management for e-Governance

S.R. Das, Senior Director, DIT, Ministry of Communications and IT, who chaired the session, talked about the capacity building plan in NeGP.

According to him, states need to implement capacity building initiatives to build self-sufficiency, to overcome the inadequate expertise within the government and to supplement internal manpower. He also informed some of the challenges in implementing the capacity building plan, such as high demand for qualified manpower in the market, disparity between market salaries and government pay scales, retention of skilled manpower – high attrition rates, different skill requirement over time and from project to project, rigid career paths, lack of relevant course material, inadequate resources and diverse training needs

R S Sharma, Principal Secretary, IT, Government of Jharkhand, shared his experience on capacity building implementation in Jharkhand. According to him, their e-Governance projects were affected due to lack of capacity and lack of ownership by the line departments. They started having project coordinators on contract on market driven salaries on fixed term and tying up their remunerations with the project outcomes/benchmarks. According to him, they should have first done the capacity building of the government functionaries since the less developed states need capacity building much more urgently.  According to N S Kalsi, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, the biggest barrier for e-Governance is the lack of adequate knowledge of the government, service providers and citizens in IT. This is where the role of capacity building is most important.

Oleg Petrov told that ICT is about transformation not technology and therefore, empowering human potential to the fullest needs to be the goal. He recommended shifting the balance of power to the common man, rural poor, women and other disadvantaged groups and enabling one stop access to information, services and opportunities.

Pranav Roach, President, Hughes Networks Systems India Ltd., informed that Hughes is participating in the NeGP and expects to enable e-Governance services over its network. In the next 6 –12 months it expects to connect over 10,000 centres across the country. Hughes is also working with several industry players to bring digital services and the benefits of ICT to rural markets and citizens.

Ahmed Samir, Assistant to Minister for Country Resource Planning, Government of Egypt, talked about the Human Development Programme for the government employeesin Egypt. The programme aims to increase productivity, the ways of developing services and optimising the use of the available resources. Some of the topics on which the employees are being trained are: change management, communication skills, negotiation skills, problem solving and decision making, guidance and awareness, leadership, building the work team, time and pressure management, crisis management and marketing.

Tan Sian Lip, Vice President, Solutions and Technology, CrimsonLogic Pvt. Ltd, told that capacity building leads to greater efficiency, transparency and integrity. He informed about the various CrimsonLogic change management programmes whereby it provided technology solutions for SaudiEDI project, UAE Ministry of Justice project, e-Posts and Indian Ports Association projects in India.

Session: e-India Leaders’ Forum

The session aimed to discuss the defining initiatives taken in use of ICT in governance and education, the major drivers for this, devising mechanism for disseminating information about status of the projects at the states, streamlining information flow, challenges in implementing ICT projects. Chaired by R. Chandrashekhar and Co-chaired by Subhas C Khuntia, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, the panelists of the session included Prakash Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, R. S. Sharma, Principal Secretary, IT, Government of Jharkhand, Michel Van der Bel, Vice President Public Sector, Microsoft International, Alok Chaturvedi, Secretary, IT, Government of Bihar and Shantanu Prakash, Chief Executive Officer, Educomp.

Session: e-Procurement for Government

S N Srivastava Director, Directorate General for Supplies & Disposals (DG S&D), Ministry of Commerce, chaired the session. He also provided a brief overview of e-Procurement system being implemented by DG S&D. The e-Procurement was initiated in DG S&D in the year 2000-02, when both manual and computerised system were being used, but from the year 2004-05, DG S&D switched over completely to the electronic mode for the end-to-end e-Procurement process. Regarding business process re-engineering (BPR), S N Srivastava informed that BPR started in 2001-02. Although, there are many challenges in implementating e-Procurement, Srivastava was optimistic that they will be overcome
with the second phase of e-Procurement, that is being initiated now.

William Lock, Chairman, Elcom Inc., Scotland, talked about three elements that drive success in e-Procurement. These are: transformation, collaboration and sustainability approach. According to William Lock, the implementation of an e-Procurement service should be the part of a larger-scale change programme, with the e-Procurement technology as the enabler. He informed that Visa e-Marketplace (delivered in India with the backing of Visa and ICICI Bank) is the catalyst for wider business change. Visa offers fully-functional system that is ready to go, speeds supplier adoption, easy for buyers to use, accelerates acceptance, saves processing cost, fully tax compliant, among other benefits.

Amit Kumar Jain, Deputy Chief Operating Manager/Planning, Northern Railway, informed about the e-Procurement process in the railways. The e-Procurement software allows online participation through a secured website- www.nreps.com, permits vendors to search, view and download tenders  Vendors can participate and submit tenders online in a fair, secured and transparent manner. It is planned that in future tenders shall cover all types such as supply tender for procurement of goods, tenders for construction works and services and fabrication.

Raja Raman Venkatramani from NIIT Technologies, listed some of the benefits of e-Procurement, which are: transparency, location independence, efficiency and consistency, standardisation, optimisation of business processes, cycle-time reduction for procurement, wide reach of suppliers and security. He also informed about NIIT’s Procure Easy e-Procurement solution, which has been used successfully by the Singapore government.

Sumeet Bhatt, Director, NexTenders, suggested that the conventional wisdom on system security for e-Government procurement is not adequate since the mere viewing of bid data is a fundamental compromise of security. He informed that the NexTenders e-Procurement system incorporates a unique document security feature, which enables the viewing, editing, management, and control of documents to only authorised personnel.

Sanjeev K Itagi, Senior Consultant (Procurement and Transformation), Capgemini Consulting, informed about global scenario of e-Procurement.  UK, US, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Singapore, Korea, among many others are implementing e-Procurement for government procurement. Within India, the early movers are DG S&D, Indian Railways and  Andhra Pradesh state government. He also talked about the several challenges in implementing e-Procurement, which include security, silo-approach with respect to. departments and processes, integrated approach, vision and strategy, last mile connectivity, resistance to change within departments and vendors and capacity building.

Session: IT Innovations in Municipalities

Vivek Bharadwaj, Special Secretary, Department of Urban Development, Government of West Bengal, chaired this session. He pointed out that it was now mandatory for corporate entities in India to file their tax returns through electronic-filing system, a mechanism developed as part of government’s efforts to foster ‘friendlier’ relations between tax authorities and assessees. In the US, the option of manual filing was still available, he remarked, adding that this said a lot about India.

Sanjay Jaju, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Infrastructure Corporation of Andhra Pradesh, expressed the opinion that one should view ICT not as a technology but as a system, an information system, which can form the base for all well-managed municipalities.

Chetan Vaidya, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs felt that in the conduct of governance and running of government, huge amounts of information needs to be processed every day and since the numbers are huge in municipalities, e-Governance is the way to go.

On  the other hand, Joe Dignan, Business, Development Manager, Microsoft, Research India, felt that ICT can be useful to curtail the huge amount of expenditure the municipalities incur for the purpose of manual data management. However, he emphasised, it can only be a facilitator and cannot replace the role of the government. In this context, he talked about the Citizen Service Platform (CSP) platform of Microsoft, aimed to support governments as they develop sustainable, flexible and extendable IT infrastructures and Internet-based services with citizen services in mind. The platform includes a suite of online services that will be available for customisation and integration into existing government solutions for the citizens. Srikant Nadhamuni, Managing Trustee, eGovernance Foundation, Bangalore, informed that eGovernments Foundation aims to improve governance in India through the effective use of technologies and government process re-engineering and to this effect has developed a family of software products and solutions that will enable the efficient working of cities and towns and hence the smoother delivery of services to its citizens.

Session: e-Governance Good Practices

The last session of egov India conference sought to discuss factors that facilitate the success of the e-Governance projects, change management and other challenges, benefits accrued and lessons learned. It was chaired by Prakash Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Sanjay Aggarwal, General Manager (Operations), Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), Ministry of Railways, talked about the online railways ticketing project of the IRCTC. It has currently the largest e-Commerce website in Asia-Pacific, selling daily more than 1,00,000 tickets. The online railways ticketing system has resulted in saving of time, money and is a convenient way to buy tickets. This, apart from the adoption of cafe approach, close monitoring of the project and adoptation to challenges, are the several success factors for this project.

Barun Kumar Sahu, Director (Personnel), Ministry of Home Affairs, shared the learnings of e-Governance initiatives in the Ministry of Home Affairs. He informed about the SELO initiative of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which is the first IT-enabled para-military force, which could be deployed for counter-insurgency operations all over the country, at a short notice (hours) and at far away places from battalion head quarters. Similarly, he mentioned about the ‘Prahari’ initiative of Border Security Force (BSF), has robust security features and can be made fully web-enabled. Among other such initiatives taken by the Home Ministry, he talked about the cyber forensic initiatives, making use of ICT tools for speaker identification: phone tapping, video authentication: morphing etc,. digital firearms signature: to identify gun license holder from used cartridge, email tracing, search of deleted files, laptops etc. and password cracking.

Ankit Mittal from Programme Management Unit, Department of IT, told about the National e-Governance Service Delivery Gateway (NSDG), one of the mission mode projects (MMPs), being implemented under the NeGP, for seamless exchange of data  with any number of  departments and front ends. The project is one of its kind, which can be successfully integrated with other MMPs and other projects. He, thus, described NSDG as a strong middleware that can potentially be integrated into other projects nationwide.

Dr. Ajay Kumar, Secretary, IT, Government of Kerala, informed that Kerala state has the highest Internet, telephone, mobile, computers penetration per capita, broadband coverage which reaches 80% villages and mobile coverage which reaches 95% villages. Kerala is going ahead with the plan of making the state 100% broadband enabled. Dr. Kumar mentioned about the successful Akshaya project, which was aimed to make the state 100% e-Literate. It was felt that as long as the computer literacy is in English, people’s involvement with IT will be low. To address this issue, Kerala government has initiated the programme, ‘My Language for My Computer’, which enables technology in Malayalam language. In this regard, local content is also being generated. Also, the government has migrated 200 government portals from HTML to content management framework, based on open source. Regarding assessing value of the e-Government projects, Dr. Kumar stressed on developing an objective criteria for assessing any e-Governance project.

Lekha Kumar, Director, (e-Governance), Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry  of  Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, told about the e-Office project, aimed at improving the operational efficiency of the government, by transitioning to a less-paper-office within next five years. Change management (convincing the officials of the benefits of the new system), is most crucial. Interoperability (seamless data exchange) is also another important issue to be dealt with in implementing e-Office in government. The e-Manual will be tested as a pilot by DARPG and then the final standard framework of e-Office implementation procedure would be available for other ministries to take it up for implementation in their respective ministries.

Ajay Ahuja, IT Architect, Sun Microsystems Ltd. talked about the  field study conducted to find the status of Indian citizen’s readiness and awareness towards various e-Governance initiatives and services, amongst a sample of citizens from the Delhi state. He gave certain recommendations to spread awareness about use of IT. He suggested that media – TV, radio, newspapers- can play a significant role. IT could be promoted by making computers/ terminals available at low cost just like phones and making available the broadband, as in the case of telephone lines.

Valedictory and Awards Ceremony

In valedictory session, the eINDIA2008 Awards were presented by Mani Shankar Aiyar, Minister for Panchayati Raj, Government of India, Suresh Prabhu, Member of Parliament, R Chandrasekhar and Subhas C Khuntia. Awards were given for excellence in the field of e-Governance, MunicipalIT, Digital Learning, Telecentres, e-Health, Mobile Services and e-Agriculture.

In the field of e-Governance, the ‘Best ICT enabled Department of the Year Award’ was awarded to the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs (ICT Partner- National Information Centre)?, Chhattisgarh. The department has created and made available to the public the ration card database of the city. Details of various schemes, stocks and procurements are made available to the people through the Internet.

‘The Best Government Initiative Award’ was given to the Directorate of Electronic Delivery of Citizen Services, Bangalore. The e-Governance Department (Government of Karnataka) is delivering 38 different services through telecentre operators of the Nemmadi Telecentre project. Now a citizen is not required to travel to the block/district office to get his certificates.  For MunicipalIT, the ‘Best Government Initiative of the Year Award’ went to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for the project ‘On-line System of Property Tax’. The system of billing was made really simple and such that it could easily be made on-line. In 2007 0.21 million tax payers paid taxes on-line. In 2008, the number of tax payers reached 0.24 million.

The Best Open Source Initiative Award in the field of MunicipalIT was given to the Geographical Information System for Dynamic Animation (GISDA),  Science and Technology Park, University of Pune.

The conference and the exhibition concluded with the vote of thanks by Ravi Gupta, convener of eINDIA2008 and Executive Director, CSDMS.

Prachi Shirur & Chaitanya Kishore Reddy

Conference Feedback from Delegates

It was indeed a great pleasure to be associated with India’s largest ICT event and interact with all the esteemed speakers and delegates. Congratulations to all the organising committee members for stupendous success of this event. I would be very glad to be part of any future events that you plan to organise.

Sanjeev Itagi, Sr. Consultant, Global Supply Chain Consulting, Capgemini Thank you for coordinating a good event which I enjoyed the most.

Dr. Basheerhmad Shadrach, Sr. Programme Officer, Telecentre.org, IDRC

I felt very happy to have attended the e-India 2008. It was very well organised. I am sure it would act as a catalyst for launching many useful and innovative activities in different walks of life. I congratulate the organisors for having successfully organised this event.

Sudhir Krishna, Addl. Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI
It was a Great event and one of the best platform for all the stakeholders from e-Governance initiatives. Looking forward to many such interactions in future.

Ajay Ahuja, IT Architect, Sun Microsystems Ltd.

Thanks for inviting me to the event, it was a great pleasure to speak at this event which was highly successful. Well done!

Oleg Petrov, Coordinator, e-Development Thematic Group, World Bank Thank you for all your effort which made the session on Municipal IT go like clockwork.

Vivek Bharadwaj, Spl. Secretary, Department of Urban Development, Govt. of West Bengal

It was a pleasure attending your conference, which was truly an eye opener for me in terms of all the different tracks on e-Governance.

Cheers
George Paul, Manager Marketing and Strategy, Ericsson
Read other eINDIA2008 track reports online at www.eindia.net.in

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