It is time to take stock of the ICTD project since the project is now moving into its final phase with only a few months to go before the project ends. This workshop focused on the lessons learnt which would be useful for replication and upscaling.
Implemented by Development Alternatives & Tarahaat, the Enterprise Development & Support Services (EDSS) project focuses on providing entrepreneurship opportunities to youth, women, self-help groups, landless and small land holders. Ranjit Khosla and Praveen Manikpuri from Tarahaat reiterated that the project is an ICT based solution for developing entrepreneurs, training them for setting up enterprises and helping them in their marketing initiatives.
The core of the project is to develop an Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) and two Enterprise Packages (EP) for Micro Concrete Roofing Tiles (MCR) and Broiler-based poultry farming. The EDSS project focuses on identification, setting up and management of mini rural enterprises. Built on a multimedia platform, the products have been developed using pedagogically sound courseware keeping in mind the low level of literacy. Potential entrepreneurs are also trained and assisted on financing opportunities, writing business proposals, loan application process etc. Linkages have been established with key banks such as NABARD, Regional Rural Bank, State Bank of India etc. Informal linkages with key government departments such as KVIC, Employment Exchange Bureau, District Industries Centres have been established. These will help the entrepreneurs establish themselves.
As on March 2007, 31 enterprises have been set up with the aim to establish 8,500 enterprises by June 2010. Over the next 6 months, it is envisaged that more Enterprise Packages will be developed and rolled out over the Tarahaat network.
The status of Mahiti Manthana, a project targeting women empowerment was elaborated by Parminder Singh from IT for Change – an NGO based in Bangalore. This initiative was designed in response to a felt need by Mahila Samakhya that knowledge and women empowerment interventions need technology support, both for sustainability and for enhanced effectiveness. Different ICT tools, such as radio, video, helplines and computers are being explored to develop contextual socio-technical processes for empowerment. The project is being implemented in three talukas of Mysore district.
The Kelu Sakhi radio initiative has facilitated in promoting home grown informal processes during production of radio programmes and collective listening aligned to Sangha (SHG) processes at the community end.
The Sangha Shale introduced as part of the project has established a new robust institutional form of learning and self growth. Videos developed by the Sangha women showcasing simple workshop recordings, process captures, discussions etc are shown to the Sangha women and discussions are held revolving around the video topic. It is envisaged that the stronger sanghas will use such discussions to shape the community discourse, agenda and action over a period of time.
The Namma Mahiti Kendras (telecentres) provide a platform to reach outside agencies, and establish a better ‘equation’ within the community. The telecentres run on three main planks namely providing government information (and RTI), community databases, and communication platform for chat, video conferencing etc. The centers have provided the disadvantaged women the feeling that ‘information is available’ and the attitude to ‘seek information’, and then, use it in empowering ways. The impact can be seen by the greater social role of the women in the community and inclusion into governance structures. Process changes and empowerment are assessed on the basis of Internal Qualitative Assessment (IQA) framework along the dimensions of Acceptance, Integration and Ownership
Sugam CentreVipin Singh, Director, Integrated Citizen Services, GoK presented the status of the Bangalore One project. Started in April 2005, 16 Bangalore One centres have been set up with a vision to enhance government service delivery to citizens and businesses, by offering an integrated interface, for a broad spectrum of government and private services.
Currently 18 different services of 11 government departments and 6 private services are being offered under the B1 project generating over 3.5 lakh transactions per month. The quality of services being offered by the private partner is being tracked on the basis of SLAs. Three more B1 centers will be opened during the next 3-4 months. The project will also be expanded to other towns of Karnataka, starting with Hubli-Dharwad.
Ms. Sathyavati, Joint Secretary (e-Governance) in the Govt. of Karnataka explained that the e-Procurement project is being designed as an end-to-end e-Procurement system in Karnataka comprising of various modules like Supplier Registration, Indent Management, Catalogue Management, Contract Management, e-Auctions etc and not e-Tendering alone. The e-Procurement application will be hosted in the State Data Centre with physical and logical security controls resting with GoK. HP India Ltd has been engaged as the private partner for the project. The project will be initially implemented in 6 pilot departments and will be rolled out to all offices in the state by 2011.
The solution, which is PKI enabled, will be accessed by government employees and the contractor community over the Internet. The system would be integrated with legacy systems such as inventory management and financial management system of departments, Khajane system of the State Government and an e-payment gateway. A well-built MIS reporting system would be put in place as an inherent compliance to the RTI act.
HP India will run the e-Procurement system as a service and will be paid by users on a transaction basis and not by the government. Five percent of the monthly transaction charges will be retained by GoK for managing the e-Procurement cell. A bank would be selected for opening a central pooling account for the Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) collected from contractors and suppliers. In lieu of returning the interest generated the bank will fund certain activities of the project implementation.
GoK is working on critical process reform decisions and has initiated necessary groundwork for electronic submission of EMDs. It has been proposed that EMDs will no longer be accepted in the form of a bank guarantee. Over the next 6 months, digital certificates will be issued to government officials. All the components will go live and a full-fledged e-Payment system will be implemented. Training of contractors and government users will be an ongoing process.
The Integrated Community Service Centres (i-CoSC) project is being implemented by the Department of Communications & IT, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh, in the district of Shimla. Manish Garg, Director-IT, informed the participants that the project was being renamed as ‘Sugam’ to have widespread appeal in rural areas.
With a vision to deliver integrated citizen services across all tehsils, sub-tehsils and sub-divisions of Shimla district, the project is currently providing e-Government services as well as services focusing on socio economic progress (such as education, health etc.), income generation (G2B services, market information etc.) and improving quality of life (edutainment, training etc.). Currently, over 50 services across 27 departments are made available for access to citizens across 17 Sugam centres.
An integrated portal to access all i-CoSC services has also been put in place. Sanjeev Gupta, Secretary IT, GoHP stated that the application for providing certificates (e-Praman) and for Record of Rights (HimBhoomi) have been accessed the most number of times by citizens. Some of the other applications include HIMRIS (for land and property registration), Vahan & Sarathi (for driving licenses and registration of new vehicles), arms licensing, job portal, ticket reservation of HRTC etc.
The Himchal Pradesh State Wide Area Network (HIMSWAN) will be operational by June 2007 and all the backend applications will be hosted in the data centre. After integration of all services, the project will be rolled out in other districts.
Village Information System
The Village Information System (VIS) is being implemented in 100 villages of Patan and Mehsana districts of Gujarat to provide various G2C and B2C services to rural citizens. Neeta Shah, Director (e-Gov), GIL and Vijay Nehra, DDO, Patan district, informed the participants that the appointment and training of Village Computer Entrepreneurs (VCE) has been completed in all 100 villages. The VCE would assist the Talati at the village level to maintain accounts and provide required government services to the citizens. It is also proposed to engage an agency to provide entrepreneurship training to the VCEs.
Connectivity has been provided in 10 villages of Mehsana district by extending the GSWAN connectivity. The challenges for the project implementation include ensuring reliable Internet bandwidth to provide services, maintaining uptime of the systems, retaining VCEs and regularly building capacity of VCEs with respect to various G2C & B2C services. Additional resources are being appointed at the district and taluka levels to help in speeding up the project implementation. GSWAN connectivity will also be extended to 10-15 villages of Patan district to roll out VIS services.
Amit Chakravarty and Sandeep Krishna, Managers at NISG summarised the proceedings of the two days and also presented the Results Based Management (RBM) system dashboard for all the projects. Shri A.K Balani, Director, DIT urged partners to complete project activities by December 2007 when the ICTD Project comes to an end.
Ms. Deirdre Boyd, Country Director, UNDP, summing up the workshop stated that sharing of views, ideas and learnings across the pilots was a very important exercise. “The ICTD Project is playing a small part in a much bigger national strategy,” she said, while emphasising that gender mainstreaming was a very important component and needs to be incorporated as part of the project implementation.
Expressing happiness at the progress of the pilot initiatives, R. Chandrashekar, Additional Secretary (e-Governance), DIT stated that during the year Common Service Centres (CSC) would be in place for most states. Reacting to a common query of participants on the status of the existing centres once the CSCs are implemented, he stated that agencies can apply to run the CSCs if they have a large number of centres already running in the region. To avoid stagnation, he also recommended that applications must be shared across pilots and should not be used for commercial purposes.
The workshop was a platform to share lessons among the various projects being implemented over the last two and a half years. Getting all the projects to focus on the larger set of outcomes and results has helped in ensuring that the overall theme of development is emphasised upon. The coming months will witness projects being up-scaled and replicated in the country.
After the workshop, the participants went on a field trip to the Sugam Centre located in the DC Office, Shimla.
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