Putting Citizens First

Gujarat Government has been proactive in developing services that are completely transparent and are easily accessible to all the citizens of the state

By Sunil Kakkad, CEO, SIS

Gujarat has slowly and steadily grown into an economy that has realized the importance of technology and ICT-enabled services for the citizens. Technology as such currently provides a huge opportunity for Gujarat as well as the whole nation, be it business-wise or in terms of service delivery.

I personally believe, currently we are utlising only a fraction, say 10-15 percent of the business opportunity that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) provide in infrastructure as well as applications vertical. So, there is already 85 percent of opportunity waiting to be tapped and developed. As of now, from getting a birth certificate to getting issued a death certificate and everything that comes in between (driving license, passport, marriage certificate, etc) personal verification is required to attain the documents. However all is changing with the current advent of technology. Many services are already available online and much more is bound to transform in years to come.

Especially with reference to projects like UID, the whole process will transform completely. Once you have a UID number the stage of personal interface will be eliminated. This is where the opportunity lies for the government and the private sector alike. ICT is one area where neither private sector nor the government department can exist or manage it in isolation, they are equal stakeholders in any given project.

On Challenges for e-Governance

There are two major challenges that are faced in implementing eGovernance. First is awareness and second is platform. Gujarat is the only state where we have 13,000 remote villages connected with GSWAN but the challenge is the awareness amongst the beneficiaries of that project. On the other hand, the kind of awareness that we have for the 108 ambulance service is something that needs to be replicated across the state for all the projects. There are lots of services available, but people don’t know about it. You can’t push the people to use these services; there should be appropriate awareness so that the services pull people towards them.

The second challenge, availability of a platform for e-Governance services is a big obstacle nationally. In Gujarat we are blessed with the vision that was there in beginning of 21st century and whose benefits we are reaping now in the form of GSWAN and other such connectivity platforms that have been established. On a national level, though, there is still need of proper platform. Gujarat is picking up very rapidly. The last state IT Policy 2006-11 did not deliver as much as it was expected to. This time a marathon exercise is going on for next IT Policy so that the Gujarat IT Industry can flourish with it.

The Gujarat Experience

As a Gujarat-based company, we can feel the kind of pain the government has taken to make the citizens’ life easier. The way Gujarat has taken a lead and created a platform like GSWAN is not only commendable but also a model or a benchmark which can be taken as learning for other states. Gujarat was the first state to have a state wide network. And through eGram all villages are connected through 2 mbps connectivity under this project. Through this development, now the platform is ready and can be used for education, health or any other public services, the infrastructure is there and now we can build over it. Any govt has to be proactive in citizen handling.

Future of SIS

As far as future plans for SIS are concerned, by 2015 we would like to be a billion-dollar company with global reach. Today our 90% of revenue is coming from domestic market. By 2015 we would like to have 40% of our total revenue from overseas markets. We want to grow geographically as well as in terms of our offerings in next decade to emerge as a global player. However convergence will be the mainstay of this expansion plan and we may pursue acquisition route too if opportunity is right for achieving this goal.

On eIndia 2011

In Gujarat business is a part of the culture and people start early. Thereby the kind of national or global exposure doesn’t come very soon. Events like eIndia are that platform for those businessmen to interact, share and network with people from all over the country to share experiences and knowledge. So, in a way, eIndia will be very beneficial for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) wherein they would be able to meet top government leaders as well as corporates at the same platform, hear what they have to say about the latest development in the IT world and learn from it.