With ICT based tools governments can provide a variety of citizen-centric services in a transparent, democratic and efficient manner. Services like health, education, mother and child development, availability of various documents pertaining to identity and much more have now become accessible via few mouse clicks
By Pranav Pandya, Founder Director, Dev Information Technology
Opportunities and Challenges in e-Governance
Most e-Governance systems that we have today are fairly complex and multifaceted. The people working for the government and the common citizens need to gain understanding of the technology. It is only when large sections of the population have a clear understanding of the system that the benefits can start percolating down to the grassroots level.
With deeper penetration of connectivity and increase in the number of mobile phones in our country, the ICT initiatives are bound to grow.
Overall, ICT can act as an enabler and lead to a smoother and speedier set of interactions between the government and citizens. The ICT initiatives can lead to benefits like: flexibility, vertical/horizontal integration, organization learning, and greater speed of service delivery.
Gujarat- from Manufacturing Industry to ICT hub
According to me the fact that there is massive amount of industrialisation in state, with many domestic and foreign multi-nationals being present, the growth of ICT infrastructure is certain. Businesses realize that an investment in ICT infrastructure is compulsorily as it brings in incredible benefits. Thus it should be a foregone conclusion that as Gujarat industrialises, it will also transform into an ICT hub. This is my sincere belief. Currently much of the ICT infrastructure has been created by big and small businesses. Some of these businesses are from the government sector, others are privately owned. As the ICT infrastructure gets more advanced, the human resource development parameters in the state will improve further.
On Lessons from Gujarat and for Gujarat
With a really efficient ICT network already in place, Gujarat has started serving like an inspiration to other states in the country. The communication network in the state currently touches almost the entire landscape. It reaches out to the remotest areas.
The zeal that the Gujarat government is showing in accomplishing the ambition of internet access till the village level via its own network is paying huge dividends. The state government has encouraged private internet service providers to reach out to the remote areas. This has led to the creation of a really comprehensive digital highway. There is no doubt that the other states in the country can learn a lot from Gujarat’s initiatives.
However, Gujarat too can do with a little bit of learning from other states. Gujarat can learn about the importance of placing emphasis on development / propagation of relevant vocational and Diploma / Engineering education by encouraging partnerships between government bodies and private entities.
Can Gujarat lead the way?
Development of ICT related skill sets in the state’s local population of youths is, in many ways, going to be the key to Gujarat’s future development. We need to set appropriate framework in such a way that the sheer demand of skilled workers for ICT related initiatives should be met from within the state. For this I strongly believe that a regular interaction between government, education institutes and ICT players should be conducted every three months, during the next five years. Such meetings will enable the government and the private parties to understand each other’s objectives and come up with better strategies for development of ICT in the state.
For such interactions to happen, the state can also be geographically divided into 4 zones. When the government interacts with businesses from a particular area, there is scope for development of ideas that are more accurately targeted. Both macro and micro issues faced by different stakeholders can be sorted out.
More than anything else, it is important to get the citizens actively involved in the ICT initiatives. The citizens should have the requisite IT related knowledge to take full advantage of such systems and this can only happen through a broad based education. So, it is important that the state government should further intensify its efforts for enhancing the reach of the educational infrastructure. Newer, better colleges and schools need to be established. To reach more people in remote, inaccesible, backward areas through quality education is the call of the time.
Why eIndia 2011 in Gujarat?
An event like eIndia2011 is of utmost importance for highlighting the scope of technology to act as a catalyst for social upliftment. The eIndia2011 platform will evoke discussion and debate on the best roles that the government entities and the private players can play for taking the fruits of new developments in ICT to the grassroots level.