India News: May 2011

Arunachal for electoral enquiry through SMS

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is going to launch ‘electoral enquiry’ system in Arunachal Pradesh for providing correct information to the voters for their convenience.

The unique short message service (SMS) system will provide electoral information to the voters, who want to know his or her electoral details. To get the details one has to only send an SMS to a particular mobile number with his or her own elector’s photo ID card (EPIC) number to get the details.

After few seconds, the sender will receive a reply SMS by an auto generated system which will provide various information to the particular electors to ensure his or her trouble- free casting of votes.
The SMS number will be announced later in a public announcement, the sources informed. The information like, EPIC number, name of elector, assembly constituency number, part number or polling station number, elector’s serial number in the photo electoral role of particular polling stations will be received by the senders.

The ECI is also going to introduce an online public complaint lodging system in the electoral officer’s website shortly, to lodge public grievances.

Bihar to launch a slew of online services soon

Bihar’s Rural Development department has decided to provide online services to the people seeking income, caste, birth and death and other certificates.

“We are contemplating to provide  line service to people, who have to run to the block office for such certificates,” Nitish Mishra, Minister of Rural Development said. Mishra said that the people would not have to go to the block office every time for certificates.

The scheme christened as ‘kahin bhi kabhi bhi sevayen’ would be launched soon. “The department is moving methodically before launching the scheme aimed at mitigating the problems of the common masses,” the Minister stated.

After Gujarat, Uttarakhand rolls out e-Mamta

Post Gujarat’s inauguration of e-Mamta project, which aims at monitoring mother-infant health pre and post delivery, Uttarakhand’s Health Department has followed suit.

The Health Department of Uttarakhand has finalised the e-Mamta system of mother and child tracking which mainly aims at ensuring proper and timely vaccination of the pregnant women and new born. This project would use SMS alerts to constantly inform and remind the users of upcoming vaccinations.

The project is being run with the help and support of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) which has provided training to the state and block units. More than1000 pregnant women have already registered themselves under the e-Mamta project in the state and all the block units have been given the user name and passwords for the entry of the names of the women and children in their active database.

The project would be implemented with the help of the ANM and Asha workers in the state as they work at the grassroots level and disseminate health services. The scheme would include registration of the pregnant women and tracking of their health and vaccination of the new born infants.

The mobile numbers would be fed in the database and the users would get the information about the impending vaccinations from time to time. This would ensure that no vaccine is missed and the health and future of the children is not compromised.

Geo-Informatics centre coming up in Himachal

The Himachal Pradesh government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Gujarat for setting up a centre in the hill state to facilitate use of geo-spatial technologies for decision-making and planning of development activities.

The Aryabhatta Geo-Informatics and Space Application Centre would be set up in collaboration with Bhaskaracharya Institute, Gandhinagar. State Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said the MoU has opened a new vista of technical collaboration between the hill state and Gujarat.

e-Payment facility in Kerala University

Students of Kerala University no longer need to stand in long queues to pay their examination fees. They can now do so from the comfort of their homes. The e-Payment facility for paying the examination fees of the University was launched by Dr. A Jayakrishnan, Vice Chancellor, Kerala University at a function held in Thiruvananthapuram.

Designed, developed and maintained by the Kerala University Computer Centre (KUCC), the web-based facility has been tested and secured by STQC, Department of IT, Ministry of Communication & Information Technology, Government of India. The e-Payment facility can be accessed on the KUCC website. The service is currently available for the sixth semester B Tech Degree students. This will be rolled out to other semesters and eventually, to all the students of all courses, in a phased manner.

This is the continuation of the paperless registration programme (e-Registration) for the conduct of examinations. With this launch, Kerala University becomes the first university in Kerala to have an e-Payment facility.

service delivery
Kapil Sibal inaugurates rural service centre in Haryana

Union Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal inaugurated a rural service centre (RSC) in Badshahpur village recently. The RSC set up by a private telecom infrastructure firm, as per the PPP model, will facilitate education through Internet, telecom services, healthcare and e-Governance-related services in rural areas.

People will be taught in batches of eight in an education centre powered by a 1,800-watt solar panel. People of all ages will be welcome to come and learn about agriculture and related topics.

Facilities like e-Education, primary and vocational classrooms, life-saving drugs, vaccine storage, biometric ATM services, access to PDS rates, commodity prices, employment exchange, payment of taxes, birth, death, land record registration and provision of bore-well water will be  available for villagers in this centre. This model will give surplus power supply to the village.

smart cards
Pension through smart card in Haryana

Haryana Social Justice and Empowerment Department announced a new initiative, wherein, beneficiaries of various pension schemes in Haryana will now get their pension amount through electronic banking using smart card. The move is aimed at making policy implementation transparent and also to check corruption.

Under the new system, the beneficiaries of pensions would have to open bank accounts through District Social Welfare Officers in the banks specified by the department, Haryana Social Justice and Empowerment Ministery informed.

Business Correspondents appointed by the concerned bank would visit each village to open bank account of the beneficiaries. The pension for the month of April 2011 would be paid to the beneficiaries through banks.

Arunachal links departments through SWAN

Arunachal Pradesh successfully set up the State Wide Area Network (SWAN) project recently to connect various offices in 15 district headquarters and 46 blocks in the state in a network.

Under the project, digitisation of database and government records will be done which would enable a common man to obtain various documents without any hassles and at considerably low cost.

Besides, video conferencing facilities, the SWAN project is set to improve the functioning of the government by faster electronic transfer of information in the form of voice, video and data. Some of the flagship e-Governance projects identified for implementation included public distribution system (PDS), driving licenses and registration of vehicles, commercial taxes, and integrated financial management system.

Mobile VAS in Punjab by BSNL

In a bid to transform mobile telephony in Punjab, Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology has launched the Bharat Sanchar Nigam’s (BSNL) value-added services (VAS) in the state. The new VAS launched includes ‘dial-a-video’, ‘live share services’ and ‘video SMS’ services.

“The value added services would transform communications for users in Punjab,” Pilot said, reported IANS. The Minister said that BSNL was reaching out with its services in the most interior and difficult parts of the country. He said the BSNL had installed towers and provided services in Maoist-affected areas where private mobile operators were reluctant to go.

Users of ‘dial a video’ services can access entertainment or video based services on their mobile anytime anywhere without requiring a special data plan or settings, as long as the user has a video call enabled phone, a BSNL official said. “With live share services, users will be able to share videos instantly through their mobile phones with their families, colleagues, and friends over SMS or popular social networking sites. The video SMS service will allow users to leave video messages for anyone as long as they have a phone which supports video calls,” he added.

Citizen Engagement in Policy Making Through Rs 20 cr Fund

In a major initiative towards making citizen engagement more integral and active part of National e-Governance Plan across the country, the Centre has proposed a Citizen Engagement Fund.
The fund will be utilised towards funding citizen engagement pilots which will demonstrate the concept’s utility before being rolled out informed, Department of Information Technology (DIT). The fund will be in place by September 2011.

The Centre will make it mandatory for state governments to go in for citizen engagement before taking up any e-governance initiatives. Currently, most consultations are done on an informal basis which woefully falls short of expectations and aspirations of the people going to be beneficiaries of these initiatives.

Many new ICT tools would be used which would enable implementers identify potential methodologies and mechanisms to implement them. Active citizen engagement in policy making to achieve credible public participation in a country as vast and complex as India is challenging as the Centre proposes to utilise the unique opportunity that technology offers to engage with citizens in real time and meaningful manner, to make policy making citizen centric.