January 2013

IT is the Big Enabler for Inclusive Growth

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e-Governance is all about enabling better governance in the country. We need to ensure that the current level of governance in the states and centre is close to the ideal of good governance. People who are engaged in the task of governing must be constantly assessing themselves

Bipul Pathak,
Commissioner & Secretary,
Science & Technology and Information Technology Department,
Government of Jammu & Kashmir

Today most state governments are at various stages of rolling out many of their services in ‘e’ format. This is an attempt to facilitate a move towards good governance. However, we are still far from the stage where we can provide best possible governance to the people. If you talk to the citizens, residing in areas where such e-services have been rolled out, you will find that their expectations are of even better services. They do not want to apply for six different services from the same kiosk six times. That is a major challenge.

e-Governance, within our system, is struggling. Citizens perceive that the government is contrived out of a singular unit, but behind the scene we lack that kind of cohesion. Government departments work in silos. Hence, the internal governance of the government itself is a major challenge and the departments need to be much more cohesive to project themselves as one single unit of the government to the citizens.

This challenge of lack of cohesion has to be handled by most of the state governments. Proper IT implementation is one of the ways of achieving this.

Our piping networks have to be mapped for better water supply management. Same goes for other municipal services and structures

Urban development 
In our country, urban development catches up with the existing realities rather than being planned in a proper and thoughtful manner. Many cities do not have plans for the basic amenities even for the urban rich. Even if planning catches up later, there is hardly any advance planning. This phenomenon used to happen around metro cities; but with rapid urbanisation in the last 10-15 years, we are finding this phenomenon now happening around cities with 1 million population as well. We are talking about places like Ludhiana and Jaipur. We are not able to manage cities well, and these are the sources of social exclusion.

How does IT fit into this? The telecom revolution did bring about social inclusion. At least the lowest strata of society today is in the position to connect in the same way as the rich people. In terms of urban development, we are not able to manage encroachment on the public land. Better deployment of GIS systems can lead to curbing of encroachments. In fact, GIS systems are already being used by many urban local bodies to keep a track of the public land in urban areas.

I would argue that IT in various forms can be a good enabler for advance planning. Our piping networks have to be mapped, so that we have a better water supply management system. Same goes for other municipal services and structures which have to be properly mapped, planned, kept on maintenance mode, etc, through the use of IT. Then we will be in a position of advance planning, not catching up.

It’s all about advance planning; we need to use technology, we need to use IT and other kind of technology available for better urban planning, development and management. That is the only way forward and hopefully we will be able to achieve some kind of planning model in urban areas.

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