The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) has taken a number of initiatives to ensure timely, transparent and effective delivery of citizen-centric services across the country, says Ram Sewak Sharma, Secretary, DeitY, Government of India, in an interaction with Gautam Debroy of Elets News Network (ENN)
Tell us how important is the ‘Digital Locker’ system for public use, and how secure is this?
Digital Lockers can greatly facilitate paperless transactions through easy and authentication-based access. Citizens can store Government-issued digital documents and certificates and share them with various agencies without having to submit or send physical documents or copies. Government documents can be issued in verifiable electronic format and made available in federated e-Document repositories. The Digital Lockers and ‘e-Document repositories’ will greatly improve the citizen convenience and usher in paperless transactions across the ecosystem of public services. Easy access to the digital resources ensures that citizens are not asked to provide government documents or certificates, which are already available with some department / institution of the government in physical form.
In a situation of disaster, e.g. flood, storm, fire, etc, when citizens may lose paper documents, documents in the digital repository would be accessible for them anytime, anywhere to avail government or private services. The Digital Locker system has been designed considering the robust security considerations including authentication, risk and fraud management, access control, identity management and governance.
Punctuality of employees is visible at least in central government offices. Do you think the Biometric Attendance System could be useful in the state governments, too?
The Aadhaar-based Biometric Attendance System could be useful for the state government employees as well. At least six state governments have already shown interest in the system. We expect the number to grow in future.
What is e-Kranti – NeGP 2.0, initiated by DeitY? Is there any timeframe to implement this project?
The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) was approved in 2006 with the focus on electronic delivery of services. 24 out of the 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under NeGP are operational providing a wide range of services. The average number of e-transactions under various MMPs has crossed over 25 crore per month during the last six months.
However, it was felt that despite successful implementation of several e-governance projects across the country, e-governance, on the whole, has not made the desired impact. Hence, a need was felt to enhance the scope and quality of e-governance in the country by bringing in transformational government process reengineering, focusing on integrated services, interoperable systems and making best use of emerging technologies. It is in this context that ‘eKranti’ or NeGP 2.0, with a focus on both quantity and quality of electronic services, was conceptualised.
Under the e-Kranti framework, the portfolio of MMPs is being expanded. Existing projects/ software applications are also being revamped to make them more robust and improve the quality of e-services.
As you are closely associated with the ‘Digital India’ projects, what is your take on Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ concept?
Electronics manufacturing is one of the pillars under the Digital India programme. The government has taken a number of policy measures to promote domestic manufacturing of electronic items. This has resulted in nearly 60 new investment proposals over the last oneand- a-half-year or so involving `18,000 crore. We see a significant positive trend in the interest levels and several global and domestic companies are looking towards electronics sector for their future investments in India.
Do you think that India can compete with countries like China in terms of electronics manufacturing?
Since most electronic products are traded on zero duty, the only way to create the industry in India is to be globally competitive. For every investment that happens in the sector, the competition and evaluation of destination is global, and any investment that is coming in the sector is doing so with full recognition of this. It is, therefore, the current trend in the investment in electronics is very encouraging. We are aware of companies that had plans to invest in China, but have shifted their investments to India.
Apart from the positive environment developed in India through the “Make in India” campaign and also through phased improvements in the ease of doing business in the country, the fact that the labour availability is dwindling in China and the labour costs are going up are also in our favor. The world is looking towards China-Plus One strategy and we should take advantage of this.
When we talk about IT, the second thought crossing our mind is security. How secure are India’s IT projects?
Given the rise in the sophisticated cyber attacks across the globe, cyber security is of utmost importance for successful e-governance service delivery. We have taken all the measures to ensure that the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the e-governance systems remain intact in case of any cyber threats. Some of the key security measures we have taken include:
1. Government Data Centres are compliant to ISO 27001 standards of Cyber Security. They are also audited regularly by 3rd party auditors as well as the by Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC).
2. All applications hosted in these data centres are audited by 3rd party security auditors before hosting.
3. Security has been mandated to be included starting from the design stage of software application.
4. All the security systems like Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), firewall, antivirus gateways, etc., are updated regularly.
5. Cyber drills are conducted regularly at Data Centres under the supervision of Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert-In).
6. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been prepared to ensure that security is process-dependent and not person-dependent.
7. Various trainings related to cyber security are conducted regularly for the people involved with e-governance delivery.
i. e-Bhasha – e-Bhasha, a Mission Mode Project under e-Kranti, has been proposed to facilitate access to electronic services in officially-recognised Indian languages. Enabling services in Indian languages would go a long way towards digital inclusion for the entire population.ii. Digital Locker – Beta version of the Digital Locker was released in February 2015. This project is a key element of the vision of Digital India to provide every citizen with a private space on a public cloud for storing/ sharing government-issued documents and records in electronic form. The project will be expanded soon.iii. Mobile as an Instrument of Digital Identity – Given the high level of mobile phone penetration in India, they have become a convenient and cheaper channel for accessing a wide range of services electronically. It is proposed to make mobile an instrument of digital identity by linking it to the Aadhaar platform.iv. Common Service Centre (CSC) 2.0 – The CSC 2.0 proposal has been formulated in pursuance of the government’s commitment to set up CSCs in all 2.5 lakh panchayats in the country to provide public services to citizens in rural areas. Financial inclusion services are also being implemented through CSCs.v. Portal for Lost & Found Children – A citizen-centric portal (khoyapaya.nic.in) for reporting missing and sighted children is ready for operation. The portal would tap citizen intelligence for child tracking. Any citizen registered with the portal can provide information about such children using his mobile number.
vi. Source Open Platform – Governments both at the Centre and in the states are engaged in developing various software applications. But, very often, a lot of repetitive development work happens. DeitY proposes to develop a Source Open Platform to encourage collaborative development of applications by various government departments and agencies.
vii. Visitor Management System in Government offices to allow visitors to fix their appointments in advance, so that they do not have to wait at receptions of the government ministries and departments. The cloud-based multi-tenancy system has been developed by NIC and already successfully launched in the Ministry of Mines.
viii. ePrisons: A system for management of prisoners in jails across the country. The solution has been developed by NIC and is being offered to state governments. It is currently being implemented in nearly 400 prisons across the country.
ix. Jeevan Pramaan: This open source cloud-based system allows pensioners to give evidence that they are living without having to present themselves before the pension disbursement authority.
x. myGov.in: myGov.in has become a stable platform for engaging citizens in governance. With over 8 lakh citizens regularly participating in the platform, it has been source of great number of ideas and creative inputs on several schemes. Last week, a more advanced, user-friendly version of myGov.in was launched. A mobile app for myGov.in is also being developed
xi. NIC email: The government has recently notified the new email policy which requires official communication to be done on email offered by NIC. NIC is in the process of upgrading their email system to meet the needs of 50 lakh users.
xii. End-to-end PDS computerisation: It is being implemented by NIC in close coordination with the Ministry of Food and Public Distribution. The system would include all processes from the release of food grains in FCI to actual issue of ration to consumers through FPSs.
|e-Kranti – NeGP 2.0
Policy Initiatives1. Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (MSIPs) – subsidy of 25 per cent of capital expenditure (20 per cent in SEZs) is available.2.Electronic Manufacturing Clusters Scheme, which provides 50 per cent of the cost for development of infrastructure and common facilities in Greenfield clusters (undeveloped / underdeveloped) and 75 per cent of the cost for Brownfield clusters (area where a significant number of EMCs exist).
3.Preference to domestically manufactured goods – Allows for preference to domestic manufacturers in procurement by all Central Government Ministries / Departments (except Defence) and their organisations.
4. Electronic Development Fund (EDF) for R&D and Innovation in Electronics sector. The Cabinet recently approved the EDF policy.
5. Government has accorded approval for setting up of two semiconductor wafer Fabrication (FAB) manufacturing facilities in the country.
6. Expansion in the number of PhD students in Electronics and IT to aid product development. Universities across the country are being assisted for increasing their intake of PhD scholars in electronics and IT areas. 3,000 additional PhDs will be generated through this programme in the area of electronics and IT/ITeS.
7. To provide support for skill development, the Government of India provides 75-100 per cent of training cost for industry-specific skills for skilled and semi-skilled workers. Scheme for supporting nearly 4.2 lakh persons across all states has been approved.
8.DeitY has successfully implemented a mandatory registration scheme for safety of electronic goods.
9. Several initiatives to promote R&D in electronics with industry involvement have been approved
10. A National Centre for Flexible Electronics will be set up at IIT-Kanpur. This is a new and emerging are of electronics and the Centre will help create greater capabilities within the country in this new area.
Cyber security is of utmost importance for successful e-governance service delivery. We have taken all the measures to ensure that the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the e-governance systems remain intact in case of any cyber threat
Do you think that ‘GyanSetu’ initiative will be able to deliver e-Services to the rural population?
GyanSetu addresses the limiting factors for the rural population, such as low literacy levels and lack of knowledge of English for getting connected to the internet. GyanSetu system tries to bridge the gap by providing advanced yet simplified applications that can interact with the rural population, in a way suitable for them. The possible services are e-governance, railway status enquiry, e-education, e-health etc.
Tell us about some of the projects of DeitY.
DeitY has been providing technical and advisory support to all the government departments on e-governance projects. Moreover, DeitY has built several common ICT platforms, namely, MeghRaj cloud platform, Mobile Seva, payment gateway, etc. to help government departments in costeffective and expeditious implementation of e-governance projects by leveraging these platforms.