eGovernance brings transparency in the government process, which results in improved public image and credibility to the government, says N N Sinha, Principal Secretary – IT, Government of Jharkhand, in an interview with Gautam Debroy of Elets News Network (ENN)
What is the present status of IT implementation in Jharkhand?
We are doing well in Jharkhand. In fact, along with the implementation of IT infrastructure, we have good number of applications which are based on IT. We have treasury and integrated financial management system, commercial taxes system, excise and mining system, and various registrations supported by information technology. Apart from these, police department, among various other departments, too have been using the ITbased system for better policing. Then we have an online grievances redressal system, which is also IT based.
We have a special facility called eRahat, using which you can avail emergency services across Jharkhand. There are some systems, which were initially built for Jharkhand, but are now being implemented across the country. Aadhaar-enabled attendance system is now being implemented across the country. We have launched a system called India Post for Aadhaarenabled payment system, which helps the branch post offices to conduct transactions online. We also have a system at the check-posts along the interstate borders. This will certainly be implemented across the country in the future. We also have a system called eKalyan, through which we administer scholarship programmes for the students.
Tells us more about the use of IT at interstate border check-posts.
Through employing information technology tools, we get information in advance about the vehicles coming to particular check-posts and also until what time they are waiting in the check-post queues. Also, how much time each vehicle takes to get the clearing, or whether a vehicle has been seized or not, or if the vehicles passing through the check-posts are showing their papers or not – all these information can be obtained using IT. Then we would corelate the reports to know whether they are fulfilling their commercial obligations or not.
What is the goal of eGovernance in Jharkhand?
eGovernance offers a number of obvious advantages, which are common to all eGovernance applications. From the citizens’ point of view, the major objectives of eGovernance are empowering them by providing the right information, thus equipping them to participate in the debates and exchange of views and opinion, leading to better governance.
This way, the citizen is represented in the government. It engages a citizen towards establishing a healthy relationship between him and the government and thus, he feels himself to be a part of the decision making process. It brings transparency in the government process, which results in improved public image and credibility to the government.
What challenges are you facing in implementing the IT projects?
Challenges are many. The main challenge is that introduction of information technology tools disrupts the existing setup, and it takes people time to get used to the new system. The issue of dedicated budget line is also a big challenge for us. In many states, like Rajasthan and some others, they always make sure that two to three percent of their budget is kept aside for the implementation of IT projects. But in our state, we are yet to bring such a system. We are working for it.
Another challenge is that there should be exchange of ideas between industry and the eGovernance system. If there is the needed correlation, then the IT industry will definitely surge.
How do you intend to implement the Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) to keep female folk informed in Jharkhand?
With the use of IVRS system, the girls will be able to know about the services available under ‘Sabla’ programme from the security and comfort of their homes. The parents can also avail the facilities through the IVRS. But the challenge in Jharkhand remains that hardly 7,000 villages have mobile coverage out of 32,000-odd villages. Significantly, many of these 7,000 villages are very small hamlets. I was informed that BSNL is going to launch cellular services in all these areas by March next year. I look forward to a good cellular services coverage. Once that is there, I don’t think there would be any problem for the girls in having access to cellular services. The only thing is that they have to be aware of the existing facilities.
Compared to other states, where does Jharkhand stand in terms of implementation of IT for eGovernance?
Even though we may be boasting of a thriving IT industry in Jharkhand, we are quite good at implementation of eGovernance tools. As for the comparison, let’s leave the task to the experts.
We believe that the progress 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. Accordingly, the government has drawn up an ambitious plan to use the power of information technology to effectively deliver information and services to its citizens. Computerisation of various departments, which the government has undertaken recently, aims at achieving the objective of effective and quick delivery of information and services to the citizens.
There are some systems, which were initially built for Jharkhand, are also now being implemented across the country
What is the road ahead for the IT Department in Jharkhand?
We will be working hard towards the implementation of eGovernance. We will also be kick-starting IT industry in our state. IT education is also vital for us, for which we have already applied for triple IT (IIIT – International Institute of Information Technology). The triple IT must be opened in the PPP model; the central and state governments would need to spend 50% and 35%, respectively, of the total estimated cost for the project, whereas the private partners give the remaining 15 percent. We have already submitted our proposal to the Centre.