“We are trying to figure out the best ways by which the CSCs can be made conducive for more vibrant and efficient interactions with the citizens,” says J Satyanarayana, Secretary, Dept of Electronics & Information Technology
In your opinion what are the most significant achievements of NeGP (National e-Governance Plan)?
NeGP has completed six years. Its most important achievement is that it has awarded a kind of renewed recognition to the IT sector. The realisation has now dawned on the administrative setup that IT can lead to better outcomes. The second most important achievement of NeGP is that it has led to the creation of processes that enable many departments to efficiently deliver all kinds of services to stakeholders. There is now a marked transformation in the system of governance. Nowadays there is no resistance to implementation of new IT projects. Successes have been achieved at all levels, be it in the central ministry or at the state levels. Various projects have been successful, be it the MCA21, the Passport Sewa Project, or the immigration project. Thirdly NeGP has contributed to a lot of knowledge and capacity building on the subject of e-Governance. Technology management capacities have also increased due to NeGP. Now e-Governance is entering into the manifesto of political parties.
What remains to be achieved as far as NeGP is concerned?
In NeGP 1.0, we have not only accomplished the above mentioned points, we have also created an environment of good infrastructure, environment, enthusiasm, expectation, hope and commitments. Now we are going to focus on how to create services that will accelerate outcome. We are intently looking at how many citizens we are touching every day, every month and every year. The NeGP 1.0 has been all about creating the environment, the infrastructure, and having in place the trained manpower. The NeGP 2.0 will be pushing the agenda more broadly in direction of outcomes and reaping the fruits of the previous efforts. Everybody from top to bottom will start concentrating on the number of citizens whose lives get touched by e-Governance. I have the intention of touching five crores of citizens every month and I believe that this kind of goal is entirely achievable. Not only the central ministries, but also the state ministries should make an assessment of how many people can they reach out to every month.
Tell us about the role of the CSCs?
In case of CSCs, we have identified certain areas of improvement. We are trying to figure out the best ways by which the CSCs can be conducive for more vibrant and efficient interactions with the citizens. We need to discover more efficient ways of reaching out to people in the urban area, in the rural area and in the tribal zones. The needs of each of these places vary. We have an understanding of the ground realities and we are coming up with a new set of benchmarks. We have to figure out what kind of services have to be provided, which ones are the most important services, which are the services that will have the biggest impact, from the angle of the number, the reach and the spread. These are the most important aspects which need to be taken into account if we wish to achieve the goal of having as many as five crore transactions every month. A good number of these transactions will need to be delivered through the CSCs. NeGP 2.0 will have the vision of electronically touching many more citizens per month. The CSCs will be the main delivery channel for all such initiatives.
Please shed some light on the roadmap of the EDS bill?
The Electronic Delivery of Services bill (EDS) has been referred to the Standing Committee of the Parliament. We are hoping for it to get cleared quickly. The thing is that there are many disjointed pieces in the overall e-Governance infrastructure. There is CSC, e-district, SSDG, State Portal, Data Centre, SWAN, etc. These pieces are like a jigsaw puzzle. They exist in different parts of the country in various different degrees of maturity. The projects have been sanctioned, approved at different points of time in the last four to five years. Eventually these projects have to be synthesised, in order to derive benefits.
We have been through a lot of brainstorming regarding how to synthesise these different policies. Hopefully, through the EDS bill we willhave a solution to this problem. Some states have already accomplished this fusion, whereas some of them have not yet been able to do so. We are also working on a framework that will eventually lead to quick replication of success stories.
Tell us about the roadmap of your new MMP projects in crucialareas of health, education and others.
We are still at the conceptualisation and project development phase for many new MMP projects under the NeGP. As far as education is concerned, there has been a great deal of progress in the MMPs. The general layout of MMPs will become visible to us in two months from now. As far as health sector is concerned, things are still in the planning stage.
“My idea of e-Governance is that 1+1 = 35”; in other words success of a project in one state should be used to build platforms for replication in other 35 states and union territories”
In your opinion how important is technology in e-Governance?
e-Governance is about governance and not technology. It is important to look at ways by which technology can bring about change in the delivery mechanisms of governance and create transparent and integrated services. The Aadhaar cards are going to lead to a fundamental change in the way we approach governance and e-Governance. It will lead to integration of services around the concept of a single identity and enable us to re-jig existing services. My idea of e-Governance is that “1 + 1 = 35”; in other words success of a project in one state should be used to build platforms for replication in other 35 states and union territories.
What are the main obstacles in the path of e-Governance?
It is quite difficult to translate ideas into reality. There are problems related to capacity and procedures. There are also the problems related to security and accuracy of data. Then we have to face problems of ownership, problems of establishing the right delivery mechanism to the concerned state. These issues have to be evaluated in a precise manner and in most cases they have to be resolved at a local level in the states. The bottom line is that there are no shortcuts.
When it comes to policy towards electronics hardware, what is the role of DeitY?
The focus on electronics is definitely going to improve. We are waiting for the new policy to be approved. It will change the work profile of the departments. In whatever we are doing, there has to be a drive towards achieving better outcomes, which implies an increased stress upon reaping the fruits. We need to extract the maximum benefits of the infrastructure from what is already available.
Tell us about the role that NIC has been playing.
NIC has been playing a key role in the state government level, as well as in the ministry. They have done some excellent projects. Few days back, we have seen the immigration project that they have framed. NREGS has an excellent track record. The question is how to fine tune and match the requirements of the NIC with the requirements on the field. There is the need to create resonance. For example there are number of vacancies. They need to be filled quickly and new posts need to be created. Also the process of re-skilling has to be taken up at a certain level. It is imperative to formulate better strategies and plans for success of projects.