November 2010

Making of a digital state

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ALOK BHARADWAJ
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT,
CANON INDIA

Integration of paper documents with an electronic workflow system has to be a cornerstone of e-Governance

India is today one of the fastest growing economies in the world. A strong reason for celebration is that we have proven economic pundits wrong by clocking a strong GDP growth and becoming a trillion-dollar economy. For this success to be ingrained into the nation’s collective psyche and to push the economy into a higher orbit, it is important for all of us to rewind and leverage the forces that will shape up possibly what many economic thinkers are terming as “India Decade: 2010-20.”

For growth to be inclusive and sustainable, the solution lies in leveraging ICT further and allowing technology to facilitate the process of “governance to good governance with e-Governance.”

For e-Governance to succeed in India and make a tangible difference in the lives of millions lying at the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid, the challenge for the government is to switch from a mindset of simple procurement agency of ICT products to one that focuses on outcomes and services. Eventually it is the inclusion of the citizen in the government functioning that will bring government services closer to citizens and establish accountability and transparency.

Since the inception of the NeGP, the nation has experienced ICT as an immense augmenter, so adopting the right technologies will enhance the government’s ‘inclusion’ agenda.

The implementation of information technology, both hardware and software, in the office automation (OA) segment will require a paradigm shift. Rather than viewing OA as a market segment, it needs to be seen as an essential part of the infrastructure for economic development.

It’s a reality that almost all activities in government are triggered by a paper document, followed by more documentation. This has significant impact on issues like cost, transparency, security and efficiency. For digitisation in government to be seamless, it is a must to have an effective document management solution (DMS) that securely integrates paper movement in the form of electronic workflow, while enabling secure service delivery.

Government priorities today are also about ‘social and financial inclusion’ through delivery of essential G2C services. A sizeable portion of these services need to reach the most economically backward. UID project is going to be one of the biggest enablers for that. Again, digital imaging applications like facial image capturing, scanning of current identity documents or printing of receipts to 1.2 billion people will mean colossal deployment of OA technologies.

A case in point can be usage of digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras for recording identities of all employees empanelled under Employees State Insurance Corp (ESIC) or usage of high resolution scanners for digitisation of defence pension funds.

Finally, any digital inclusion strategy should be duly supported by a secure printing architecture where every single copy or print is traceable and audit trail can be recorded. In fact, technology becomes relevant only when it provides applications as appropriate solutions to benefit government deliverables. Inclusion can no longer just be seen as having a device and a connection. To that measure, the endeavour has to be for a symphony of advanced hardware, intelligent software and efficient services to help India take centre stage in the world economy in the next decade.

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