August 2014

Need to Shun Age-old Methods

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Mahesh Zagade

Mahesh Zagade
Commissioner of Food and Drug Administration
(FDA), Government of Maharashtra

The prime challenge faced while introducing IT was the mindset of the existing machinery, says Mahesh Zagade in an interaction with Kartik Sharma of ENN

Technology has been transforming governance in our country across sectors. Share with us your opinion about the contribution of IT in leveraging the scope of governance.

The word governance emanates from laws, rules and regulations which are formulated for the benefits of citizens. However, the loop lies in the fact that the hands-on implementation and adherence by the law, is significantly low. There are some elementary provisions in various laws enacted in India that safeguard the average consumers, but the implementation is not 100 per cent, as very few observe them.
With the implementation of IT and ICT across various sectors of government departments, it’s been a procedure that is easier for both the end consumers as well as the officials in keeping track of records and being well-informed about the department’s roles and functions. The reach of awareness, though, is yet to attain the optimum level and is still in a growing stage.

How have IT helped in transforming the operational and functional performance of your department?

There is need for a greater level of re-engineering of technologies to generate interest among the staff towards newer concepts. The department is moving towards optimum implementation of IT in its entire proceedings. In the initial stage, e-governance was mistaken as computerisation, which has slowed down the growth and implementation of IT and ICT, particularly in departmental services. This needs to be eliminated by organising and involving the staff in regular board meetings in order to impose the importance of IT over computerisation. There is need for a greater level of reengineering of technologies to generate interest among the staff towards newer concepts.

Brief us about the few projects being implemented, especially using the potential of IT.

In our department, we strictly believe in working towards the cause of environment. As far as licensing and registrations are involved, we have  brought in an entirely paperless office, which is less bureaucratic and much easier for tracking complaints on food, drugs and cosmetics and other related products. We are also establishing strong communication networks both within and outside our department as it plays a pivotal role in the successful implementation of egovernance modes of operation across various sectors of the government.

How has the department ensured establishing effective communication networks particularly in tier II cities?

For us, at the Food and Drugs Administration department, there is no differentiation between metropolitan cities and tier II cities. We work closely with all stratas and it is important for us to cater effective service to all. Being a regulatory authority, it is our duty to stay connected with everyone through our online portals, websites and internal connectivity. Another aspect that needs to improve is the content that is used as a mode of information dissemination. We have also introduced our own mobile communication through SMS and will soon introduce applications that will bring our services to users at their finger-tips. Our motto is to bring in seamless communication within our client base.

What were the challenges faced while utilising these technologies and how were those resolved?

The prime challenge which we faced while utilising IT and ICTs for our operational initiatives was the mindset of the existing machinery. The people or the staff find it difficult to accept and get updated to any new system or technology introduced in the department. They feel uncomfortable to shun the age-old methods in government departments. Hence, this mindset needs to be changed. This can be achieved through the inclusion of the staff in monthly board meetings and explaining to them the importance of IT implementation in government departments.

How are you looking at exploring the potential of IT?

Our department is going entirely paperless and that is one of the prime projects that we are getting streamlined at the moment. The licensing and registration procedures for fresh issuance and renewals through our online portal are other projects that we are exploring with the potential of IT.

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