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Transforming Jharkhand Through IT

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Ram Sewak Sharma
Chief Secretary, Government of Jharkhand

“e-Nibandhan is designed to eliminate the maladies affecting the conventional registration system by introducing electronic delivery of all registration related services,” says Ram Sewak Sharma

As Mission Director of UIDAI, you played a seminal role in the progress of the Aadhaar initiative across the country. How are you planning to leverage UIDAI experience in Jharkhand?
Aadhaar is a very important platform that can be used by citizens to access the much needed government services. As I am well acquainted with the benefits that can come from effective Aadhaar deployment, I am looking forward to leverage this platform for enabling effective service delivery. I am of the view that maximum numbers of government services that are being used by the citizens must be brought under the umbrella of Aadhaar. We have successfully enrolled two-third population of the state in Aadhaar. I am hopeful that we will complete 90 percent of enrolment by the year end. The major area where I have already started leveraging services is direct benefit transfer of subsidies. We are now focusing to use it for Public Distribution System.

“Jharkhand has lot of potential to be in the forefront in terms of e-Governance and now it’s time that we speed up the deployment of initiatives that will bring efficiency and transparency to the entire governance system in the state”

You are very closely associated with Information Technology. Please tell us about your vision for IT initiatives in Jharkhand.
Earlier I was associated with IT department in the state of Jharkhand. So I feel that I can still contribute by initiating various schemes related to Information Technology. We are currently focusing on some of the key areas of IT that can bring maximum benefit to the people. These are areas like Financial Management System, Resource Management System, e-Payment, SMS Gateways and e-Procurement. We are also working on some important departmental applications like e-Nibandhan, which is designed to improve the registration related services. In fact registration system of Jharkhand is one of the most advanced systems in India.We have also initiated various departmental schemes like e-Kalyan, which is scholarship distribution programme. e-Kalyan ensures monitoring of online status for awarding scholarships (namely Birsa Munda Technical Scholarship and Ambedkar Technical Scholarship) to the ST students of Jharkhand studying in a Technical College outside the state.

Do you think that it makes sense to use Open Source solutions for creation of e-Governance initiatives?
Open Source is defiantly a very attractive solution. We need to adopt open source wherever it exists. In fact, the entire UIDAI scheme is based on Open Source software. We had started with Linux operating system. It is always possible for us to take help of private tools in areas where Open Source technology is not available. For instance, for de-duplication technology private tools were used. My emphasis is to use open source wherever it is possible as it brings down the ownership cost. But where Open Source is not available, or is inconvenient to use, we can always switch to non Open Source.

Information Technology is playing a very important role in shaping e-Governance in the country. How do you look at the overall role of IT in governance sector?
Few years back, people were not much aware about IT services. But today I find that scenario has changed and people are more connected with the technology. People realize that they can have lot of benefits if proper IT implementations happen in the government. Earlier technology enhancement needed big machines but today everything can be converged in the data centre. One can now authenticate banking transactions with the help of UIDAI. Now I think we have a very clear vision about the roadmap for implementing e-Governance. Things have really improved when it comes to deploying technology for better governance.

Many states in southern India have created a large impact in e-Governance. Some of their e-Governance solutions are now being replicated in other states. How do you compare e-Governance initiatives in Jharkhand with what is happening in other states?
There is no doubt that many states in southern India have done exemplary well in the area of e-Governance. Jharkhand too has lot of potential and now it’s time that we speed up the deployment of initiatives that will bring efficiency and transparency to the governance in the state. We have to create new systems for improving governance. I am sure that we can build as good systems as any other states in the country. So there is no reason why an e-Governance revolution should not happen in Jharkhand. I am looking forward to taking Jharkhand in the forefront of e-Governance in the country. We have taken several initiatives which have changed IT scenarios in the state. We have completely digitized pension scheme so that people can track their pension online. We are focusing to strengthening our productive tool. Training people who can use such tools can really bring a change. I am looking forward to introducing it in various engineering departments.

Government of Jharkhand has started a landmark project for registration called e-Nibandhan. What impact has this project had in improving the process of registration in the state?
The e-Nibandhan Software was initially developed to automate the Registration Process in the District Sub-Registrar office at Ranchi. After its successful implementation in the Ranchi Registration Office, it was decided that we should replicate the system throughout the state. e-Nibandhan is designed to eliminate the maladies affecting the conventional registration system by introducing electronic delivery of all registration services. The manual System of registration suffers from a number of problems like inordinate delays; people also feel harassed as they have to come all the way to the office for registering their documents. e-Nibandhan eliminates all these deficiencies and difficulties. e-Nibandhan has made it possible to return the original registered document to the persons concerned within a matter of minutes. As soon the process of registration is complete the owner can take his original documents back. It has increased transparency in the system. Now the details of registration, calculation of rates and other details are available freely. So people can be sure that they are paying the correct amount of stamp duty, etc., to the government.

e-Nibandhan is initiated to meet the following key objectives

• Cost reduction
• Transparency
• Immediate delivery of documents
• Increased facilities to all the stakeholders
• Demystify the registration process
• Bring speed, efficiency, consistency and reliability substantially improve the citizen interface


Tell us about some key initiatives which you have taken in the state of Jharkhand.

The State Government of Jharkhand recognises the power and potential of new technologies. We understand how new technologies can lead to the improvement in the quality of people’s lives. We believe that the developments in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can be effectively leveraged to deliver a variety of information and services to the citizens effectively and efficiently. Government of Jharkhand is committed to use ICT to transform its functioning and build citizen-centric, inclusive and development oriented information society. We want to provide services to the common man in a cost-effective, transparent and easily accessible manner. Government of Jharkhand plans to set-up 4,562 Common Service Centres (CSC) throughout all the panchayats in the State in first phase and 872 CSCs in the second phase to provide e-Governance services and other value added services. Web based software is being developed to disseminate information on essential Commodities dispatch to PDS Shops from the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

You have also done important work in the treasuries department. Tell us about it.
That’s right. We have taken up the work of computerising and networking in the State Treasuries and sub-treasuries. The project seeks to computerise the functioning of all the treasuries and link them together and with Accountant General. This will ensure an extremely efficient system of financial management for the Government. It will completely eliminate the possibility of forged withdrawals. It will, in fact, ensure that the GPF accounts of all the Government employees are up-to-date. The GPF and Treasury administration could be integrated in a seamless manner. Every head of office could check the details of the withdrawals done by him head/sub-head wise. He could use this information to plan further office expenditure. He could also check the available allocation to him head/sub-head wise. We have also embarked upon an ambitious project on computerization and networking of field offices as well as Headquarters of Commercial Taxes Department. It provides an efficient, transparent, responsive and citizen friendly public interface to users of the Department. It has helped in improving the efficiency and affectivity of taxes of administration. We have also initiated some key UIDAI projects in the state. We have launched a micro-ATM device that can enable beneficiaries of projects like MG-NREGA to withdraw money at their doorstep through the BC model. This will certainly help in connecting rural people with the banking service.

 

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