Dr S S Garbyal, Principal Secretary to the Government of Mizoram, Department of Information and Communication Technology, talks to eGov magazine about his vision for development of ICT sector in Mizoram. He also sheds light on e-Governance projects in the state…
Tell us about your vision for the state’s IT department. Tell us about your mandate. Also tell us about the initiatives that your department is taking to bring about growth in the state’s ICT industry.
Essentially, the vision of the IT department in the state of Mizoram is to create a world class environment where major ICT companies can conduct their business and generate employment. Mizoram has one of the highest literacy rates in the country. The state has a huge potential in IT and ITES sector. But there are also the challenges. The most major challenge is the state’s geographical distance from the major industrial hubs in the country. Recently we have signed MOU with Department of Electronics and IT, Government of India, and Mizoram University to setup Software Technology Park in the University Campus. I am confident that this will lead to a boost to the IT industry in the state in the fields of software development, software exports and ITES.
Your state has taken many new initiatives in e-Governance. How would you rate the state’s response to e-Governance?
Ever since the National e-Governance Plan came into being, the Government of Mizoram has been engaged in implementing various e-Governance projects. At the end of this year, the core NeGP infrastructure is expected to be in place and we are hoping to catch up with all those states that are considered to be the champions of e-Governance. There are quite a few MMPs that have been taken up by departments such as Home, where we have implementation of CCTNS, and the Commercial Tax Department, where COMTAXMMPS has been implemented. I will also like to mention that our Hon’ble IT Minister Shri. Zodintluanga is keen on the development of IT sector in the state. Several proactive steps have already been taken to enhance the growth of the IT sector.
According to you what are the main e-Governance projects of the state that have been immensely successful and have the potential to be replicated?
Large numbers of e-Governance projects have been launched in Mizoram. The most outstanding of these are the e-District and Commercial Taxes projects, which have been conducted under the NeGP. These two projects have earned appreciation all over the country. Vahan & Sarathi, Land Record Computerisation and Property Registration Computerisation projects are also very successful. All these projects have the potential of being replicated.
In today’s scenario where there is a big boom in IT, what are the main challenges being faced by the officials in the position of IT secretary?
In a world where technology has started moving at the speed of thought, the primary challenge is to cope up with the pace of technological change. We are now planning to use mobile technology in governance as it has higher penetration. Mobile technology has already reached the remotest pats of the country. This technology has tremendous potential to achieve good governance objectives. Other challenge is change management amongst the officials when government process is required to be re-engineered.
What are the main challenges that you face in the implementation of e-Governance projects? What are the solutions for these challenges?
Connectivity and bandwidth are major issues in implementation of e-Governance Projects in Mizoram. This is mainly due to the fact that the state has a difficult terrain. The existing underground OFC (Optical Fibre Cable) is frequently cut due to landslide and widening of roads in various places. Until and unless these are replaced with overhead OFC, the problem will continue to persist. We are thinking of taking the fibre cable out of the ground, and laying it alongside the electric transmission lines. Alternatively, we can also extend international fibre connectively through Bangladesh. Unreliable internet connectivity is the biggest bottleneck we face while undertaking e-Governance initiatives in Mizoram.
“We are planning to use mobile technology in governance as mobiles have higher penetration”
Online security is an area of concern. Many governments owned sites have been hacked in the past. What steps do you think should be taken to ensure that the best practices are implemented while hosting of important state government sites?
Online security is a cause of concern in case of every government owned website. This is because the government owned websites are often repositories of huge amounts of data that is critical for national security. There has been an exponential increase in instances of hacking. In Mizoram every government department has formed a Website Management Team and these teams have been trained by the ICT Department to come up with innovative ideas for encountering various security related activities. Department of ICT, Government of Mizoram, has been constantly monitoring all the website activities under gov.in domain to avoid instances of hacking.
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 Aadhaar numbers?
In our state the nodal department for UDAI scheme is General Administration Department. The scheme is being implemented by General Administration and Postal Department.Not much progress has been made. As of now, there is no application developed based on Aadhaar number. But in times to come there can be fascinating developments on this front.
These days we are having the issue of malicious content on the Internet. In your opinion what are the best ways of tackling this problem? Does Internet need regulation?
Ever since Web 2.0 has become an omnipresent reality in our world, every internet user has acquired the freedom to use Internet access accesses and post all kinds of data. There is not much that the governments can do to regulate the Internet. The Internet is too vast to be regulated. We had done awareness campaign in six districts of our state by involving an NGO two years back. This has had tremendous impact in reducing malicious content in the web and cybercrime. IT Act 2000 and its amendment, which came out later, have provisions that directly deal with spread of malicious content on the internet. We do realise that in the digital world what flows in the internet is difficult to regulate.
In your opinion what kind of experiences and sensibilities as an administrator, must an IT secretary bring to his job?
The best results can be achieved by an IT secretary who can look at new technologies with an opens state of mind. Things are changing in the IT sector at a very fast pace, new technologies are emerging all the time. The IT secretary should have the vision for recognising the potential of all the new technologies. He must also have a spirit of collaboration, as the IT department has to engage with many other departments in the state. It is a fact that technological issues can only be resolved when we have collaboration with all the stakeholders. Every initiative or project needs to be managed with a proactive attitude.