September 2010

A perfectionist policy maker

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Nurturing of an idea is more crucial than making strategies, feels Ashis Sanyal, Senior Director—e-Governance at DIT, Govt of India

By Tanu Kaur | Photography Joe

Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is  deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan,” the     famous statement made by Tom Landry, the noted American Soccer Coach, is also the doctrine of Ashis Sanyal, Senior Director—e-Governance, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in Government of India.

Up,Close & Personal

Birth -December 23, 1950
Anniversary-December 7, 1981
Biggest achievement-My colleagues,peers, juniors and even some of my seniors (!) take me seriously when i speak on the subject assigned to me
Success Mantra-Do not start execution till you finish your planning
PurposeInLife -To be profoundly known as a good human being before i die

An ardent advocate of using technology for the masses, Sanyal strongly believes that one should not even start executing a plan till the process of  planning is complete.

“I am so obsessed with this thought that in my entire life, I could not go even go  to see a movie at a short notice, just because I had not planned for it,”  Sanyal shares.

Having started his career as an Indian Engineering Services (Electronics) offi- cer in 1976, Sanyal soon joined the M/o Communications and later,  Department of Electronics (now Department of IT), through an open interview    in 1982. The decision, according to him, proved to be a pillar stone of his career  and provided him the opportunity to handle various national-level projects in the areas of citizen-centric e-Governance program design, management and implementation, rural service delivery programs and implementation, and design of last mile connectivity policy, among others.

Sanyal has been singularly responsible as mission leader for implementation of policy, planning, implementation and monitoring of the core e-Governance Network Infrastructure Program of USD 850 million—the State Wide Area Network (SWAN) for the entire country. He made vital contributions in standard-based wide area network architecture including security,       interoperability and manageability, which would be made applicable for all the states and UTs in the country. This has led the network and system integrators to provide standard-based network solutions for the wide area network requirements all over the country.

He has also been alternate mission leader for policy, planning, implementation and monitoring of the USD 1.6 billion national scheme for establishing 100,000 Common Services Centres (CSCs) across the country.

While he was responsible for drafting policy guidelines and development of basic framework for the CSC program, the experience also helped him provide valuable inputs for Telecenters at the global level.

The CSC project envisages ubiquitous access to bridge the digital infrastructure divide and to facilitate economic upliftment of various strata of rural community coupled with service delivery mechanism.

Sanyal’s contributions in the area of core e-Governance infrastructure projects in the National e.Governance Plan (NeGP) have been significant and continued, and he is closely involved as a senior team member in e-Governance policy formulation.

“I was privileged to handle many projects at DIT. I have never believed that e-Governance can be done by government alone. Most of the e-Governance projects need to be on a PPP model,” he says.

But isn’t the bureaucratic system itself responsible for making things complicated in the project implementation primarily?

“We certainly need smart processes. I mean let’s take the case of issuing a  driving license. Why do you need a government person to take photographs or having a separate lamination department? It takes lot of effort and government expenditure. These are the non-core functions and can be outsourced,” Sanyal strongly opines.

So, has he ever got frustrated with some of these unending processes?

“Yes, as a human being. I feel disappointed if I do not see the results. But at     the end of the day you are a part of a large system, so it’s important to do your part sincerely and give your best,” he tells. And he certainly has given his best, be it formulation of the broadband access policy for rural service delivery or formulating technology framework for laying of a network for telemedicine services in Africa.

In the course of his illustrious and wide-ranging career, he  was engaged as the member-convener of the Inter-Departmental Technical Committee on Wireless Broadband Access Policy, mandated to formulate the broadband access policy for the rural service delivery outlets and other government and private entities located in rural India. This important technical committee outlined the appropriate broadband wireless last mile connectivity policy for the government with a long-term vision on futuristic technologies. Recommendations of this committee in August 2006 led the foundation for the rural broadband wireless access implementation framework for the government, leading to large broadband wireless projects currently being implemented across the country by the Department of Telecommunications, Government of India.

He was also involved in formulating the technology framework for network design and architecture for the satellite and submarine cable based backbone network for pan-African e-Network which would connect 104 nodes in 52 African Union (AU) member countries and 12 nodes in India, to provide tele-education and telemedicine services for the AU countries.

Sanyal feels that this assignment gave him a unique opportunity to design the technology architecture and implementation framework with defined service level requirements for underprivileged countries of African Union with varied e-readiness, opportunities and technology absorption.

Despite having stuck with pragmatic work approach throughout his life, his faith in God and destiny is surprisingly undivided.

“I am very God fearing. I would always think that everybody is destined to play a particular role in his life. Faith not only keeps you focused but also puts pressure of doing right things in the right manner, which is extremely crucial in the life of any human being,” Sanyal reasons.

Hailing from Bengal, he is a voracious reader and has got a great collection of books. He is also passionate about music and though work does not permit him much time he is planning to start practising Sitar, something that he had learnt during his college days, more religiously.

And while he is currently spending his valuable time in enablement of citizen-centric e-Governance policy formulation with a specific emphasis on rural service delivery and strategy, given an opportunity, he would also like to realise his theatre skills and direct plays and even movies.

“That is exactly what I wanted to make a career of. But now the way things are going on, I do not know whether it’s possible until I take a re-birth!” he  laughingly shares.

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