Sanjay Jaju, Secretary to Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, Information Technology & Communications Department, provides his views on various aspects of e-Governance projects in the state of Andhra Pradesh
Tell us about your vision for the Department of IT in Andhra Pradesh.
The Department of IT in Andhra Pradesh is fully focused on archiving the goal of bringing growth to the IT sector in the state. IT as a sector is a big growth multiplier; it leads to the creation of millions of jobs. Every year we have about 45,000 crore of IT related exports from the state of Andhra Pradesh. So on one hand the Department of IT is doing its best to implement policies that will lead to more investments in the sector and fuel growth in jobs, and on the other hand the department is also mandated to provide responsible and cost-effective e-Governance solutions that will enable citizens to access a range of services in a timely and seamless manner. e-Governance does not only bring benefits to the people, it also enables respective organs of the state to discharge their duties in an efficient and transparent manner. That is why the importance of e-Governance cannot be denied.
In your opinion what are the main e-Governance projects of the state that have been immensely successful and have the potential to be replicated?
One project that I would like to talk to you about is a project called Mee Seva, which is a flagship initiative of the government for providing a range of benefits and services to the people residing in the state. It has been estimated that by the end of this year we could start having up to 2 crore transactions every year at the Mee Seva centres. As of now 30 services have been brought under the purview of ‘Mee Seva’. The services related to revenue and registration department such as adangal, ROR-1B, FMB, integrated caste certificate at the centres are covered. Towards the end of this year, the number of available services could reach as high as 100. Citizens will be able to use the fast and transparent system for accessing a range of government services. Eventually the Mee Seva centres will also be able to provide digitally signed certificates to applicants. J Satyanarayana, Secretary, Dept of Electronics & Information Technology, who mentored this project saw great value in Mee Seva initiative and he felt that the e-Governance project was fit to be replicated across all the states in the country.
What are the main challenges that you face in the implementation of e-Governance projects? What are the solutions for these challenges?
The biggest challenge in the implementation of e-Governance projects is that we have to deal with large number of government departments. At times there is multiplicity of authorities. Problems also crop up when there is lack of awareness about new systems, and there is also the resistance to adoption of new technologies. The IT department can only be a facilitator of the e-Governance projects; the actual execution has to happen through other government departments. So what we really need is a push from different government departments to implement the e-Governance ideas that come under their domain. Basically we need better support mechanisms from the government to make e-Governance a reality. It is also true that different projects face different kinds of challenges so it might not be possible to club all the projects with each other. As the obstacles in each project are unique, you need unique solutions to tackle them.
“The IT department can only be a facilitator of the e-Governance projects…”
Please shed some light on the progress of UIDAI scheme in your state. In what ways do you think the UIDAI will be beneficial to the people in the state? Are you developing some applications based on Aadhar numbers?
In UIDAI we made good amount of progress. The enrolment started on the 8th of October 2010 and it has been on-going since then. Large numbers of Aadhaar cards have already been issued. We are coming up with initiatives to use Aadhaar numbers for providing e-Governance services to the citizens. The health department, the education sector, the rationing departments and many other departments will be targeting the beneficiaries of their schemes through Aadhaar numbers. Even the urban middle class is going to benefit from UIDAI, as it will become easier for government departments to reach out to the targeted groups. There will be less scope for pilferage and loss and the subsidies will always reach the deserving sections of the population. Aadhaar will eventually lead to acceleration in the effective and efficient delivery of services to all groups of citizens.
Online security is an area of concern. Do you think the Internet should come under tighter regulation?
There is no doubt that cyber security is a big cause for concern. Large numbers of critical systems have started operating in the cyber space, and these can be targeted by vested interests. But the thing is that the internet has now become so vast that it is really not possible for anyone to control or regulate it. It is not possible for any entity or even government to police the Internet. To my mind one great danger is that certain governments may start using cyber tools to wage wars on their national enemies. Recently we had an incident where the nuclear systems in Iran were targeted by a highly sophisticated computer worm called Stuxnet. It is alleged that the Stuxnet was designed by another country in the region. There exists the danger that in days to come nations might start waging destructive cyber wars. However, as far as Internet regulation for safety, privacy and intellectual property rights is concerned, this is a sensitive issue. The Constitution of India guarantees the Freedom of speech and expression for an individual. As important as this is, it may be noted that it does not confer an absolute right to express oneself without any responsibility.
In your opinion what kind of experiences and sensibilities as an administrator, must an IT secretary bring to his job?
The most important quality that an IT secretary must have is complete understanding of the field of IT. Unless there is understanding of the technological and social significance of IT, the secretary will not be able to discharge his duties in an effective manner. Other than that the IT secretary also needs to have the right kind of management skills. The field of IT is highly competitive, new technologies are being introduced all the time. The IT secretary must be capable of taking a judicious view of the new technologies so that the same can be used for maximum possible benefit of the society. More than anything else, the IT secretary needs to be fully committed to the cause of e-Governance and good governance; he should be deeply passionate about bringing real efficiency in the operations of various departments. The bottom line is that I see the IT secretary as a catalyst of change for the better.