November 2011

Technology Intervention in Governance

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The scope of human intervention must be reduced with information and telecommunication technologies playing a lead role to curb corruption in public life and ensure good governance across the country, said Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Kapil Sibal, while inaugurating the 8th ASSOCHAM International Summit on e-Governance.

Though the government is working on a new law to deal with the menace of corruption, only mass adoption of technologies for e-governance and m-governance can improve the quality and speed of public services, he said.

He added, “Much of the talk of corruption that we have had in the recent past will be dealt with through the initiative of Information Technology (IT). What we need to do is to ensure that the scope of human interface which is the scope of all corruption – is excluded. IT should play an important role in finding          solutions and we are in the process of doing it.

By 2014, every Gram Panchayat   in the country will be connected with fibre optic cable and last mile  connectivity will be provided through wireless broadband. The true    empowerment of people would be possible when government services are made available at the doorstep of every citizen – be it for tax returns, insurance premiums, banking operations or payment of e-bills.

“Increased use of IT will bring transparency and accountability in the system,” said Kapil Sibal adding the government will introduce the Electronic Services  Delivery Bill in the next session of Parliament. The Bill is aimed at providing  public services by all the government departments in the Centre and states in electronic mode only over the next five years.

Dilip Modi, President of The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of  India (ASSOCHAM), said the critical pillar of the chamber’s agenda of  ‘making inclusive transformation to happen’ is digital inclusion. “e-Governance  can bridge the gap between deficits and surpluses in rural and urban India. With  6 lakh villages in the country, land records need to be digitised. We are  quite bullish on the Internet’s potential to provide fair transparent governance  structures,” Modi added.

Umang Das, Chairman of ASSOCHAM National  e-Governance Council, said the concept offers a unique opportunity to move away from piecemeal reforms to an era of institutionalised transparency.

Hardeep Singh Bedi, Co-chairman of ASSOCHAM National e-Governance  Council, said India has 73 million internet subscribers and the figure is poised  to grow to 275 million by 2015. The telecom sector has been a key driver for  this growth, he said.

ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S Rawat said with nearly   60 million mobile phones in the country, all government websites should be  made mobile-compliant. The vision should be to touch and transform lives of  citizens through the use of IT, and lead the nation into a globalised knowledge economy.

Other experts said technology intervention could possibly make Mahatma  GandhiNational Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) implementation  better for job seekers, common man and society at large. Mobile technology can be used for applying for job cards, enrollment for work  and real time monitoring of work at sites.

Among those present were Jammu and Kashmir’s minister for IT Aga Syed  Ruhullah Mehdi, Gujarat’s Additional Chief Secretary Ravi Saxena, B.K. Sinha Secretary, Rural Development Ministry and Sunil Kanoria, Vice-Chairman of  SREI Infrastructure Finance Ltd. eGov was the media partner for this knowledge sharing initiative.

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