Technology as the enabler of Good Governance

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Mohammad Iqbal Khanday

Today, e-Governance is no more an option or something to be experimented with.It is an important tool for transformation. The people in the country realise this and that is why are seeing a massive popularity of the e-Governance initiatives that have been launched

Mohammad Iqbal Khanday, Chief Secretary, Government of Jammu & Kashmir

As enablers of e-Governance, the Information and Communicat ion Technologies (ICT), serve as tools for transformation and change. Today, such technologies have become deeply embedded into the socio-economic fabric of our society, and the role of e-Governance is gaining impetus to facilitate the seamless availability of critical Government to Citizen (G2C) services. We are now living in an era of global technology convergence mechanism where telecommunications and Internet technology with all media, text, audio, video, graphics, animation, and video is coming together, in a seamless manner.

Every service is delivered on a common platform and yet it is possible for the user to choose any combination together or separately as he or she desires. Technology is leading to significant social and cultural changes within organizations,which have been originally structured to perform separate functions and responsibilities. Convergence, that takes into account the roles being performed by government, private sector, civil society, with each contributing resources and services, becomes the foundation for maximising the opportunities enabled by the new ICT driven environment for national development.

Major initiatives in J&K
The Government of Jammu & Kashmir is now giving lot of emphasis to using ICT for improving the systems of governance. We are extensively promoting the use of IT in managing the government`s internal processes. The State Data Centre (SDC) in Jammu & Kashmir has started working and State Wide Area Network (SWAN) is on verge of being rolled out.

In my opinion the ICTs are a key and inseparable part of the contemporary governance. There is no denying the ubiquitous role of ICTs in our society, from the way we communicate, network and interact, to the way in which we learn, play, and conduct business or access government services. State Government Departments have already taken various innovative steps to promote e-Governance and have drawn up a roadmap for IT implementation and delivery of services to the citizens online. Every department in the State is making renewed thrust for taking their work online. The idea is to enable the people in the State to access more and more government services through the online route. In order to answer the most challenging question of ICT-driven or ICT-supported governance the departments have to make a call to initiate. Ideal would be to start with the ICT support and then to make it completely ICT driven.

Launch of new interfaces
With the intent of enhancing the scope of e-Governance in the state, the State Government has established the Jammu & Kashmir e-Governance Agency (JaKeGA) which is taking initiatives with the strong and highly technically backing of competent members of the State e Mission Team (SeMT) setup by Government of India. The agency supports the line departments to design, deliver and administer e-Governance projects by providing the necessary administrative, financial, legal and technical framework in the State.

The applications that are being implemented in Jammu & Kashmir are generally geared to providing G2B, G2C and B2C services. Large section of the State’s population, especially our younger generation, is digitally literate. So we expect a good response to the e-Governance initiatives that we are launching in the different departments. Currently there are some concerns relating to tele-connectivity and Internet connectivity, but we are working on these areas and in next few months there is going to be substantial improvements. With the setup of major infrastructure projects like SDC, SWAN, CSC, SSDG, etc., the state would be in a much better position to facilitate e-Governance.

One area where e-Governance has already started playing a beneficial role in the state is e-Procurement, which is bringing lot of transparency and efficiency to the way in which various government departments procure goods and services. This system is ensuring complete anonymity of the participating suppliers, even to the buyers, until the bid are finally opened on the platform. These improved processes have eliminated subjectivity in receipt and evaluation of bids and has reduced corruption to a significant extent.

The Planning department J&K has taken a leap by initiating the JKPULSE m-Governance tool

No alternative to e-Governance
In my opinion, today there is no alternative to e-Governance because we are witnessing a quantum rise in the expectations that people have from all branches of the government. Today the country is going through a phase of churning; the civil society is demanding more and more from the government, and the government in turn is trying its best to live up to the pulls and pressures of the rising expectations. I would urge government servants to cope up with these rising expectations and demands through e-Governance.

The Planning department J&K has taken a leap by initiating the JKPULSE m-Governance tool which is basically a Project Monitoring Tool where the officers are carrying real-time inspections and the MIS enables the Administration to have a close look at each site. With the success of this project we have initiated the extension of this tool to other departments as well. This will not only bring in transparency but also would encourage the officers to adapt such user friendly technologies.

e-Governance, which is creation of digital governance systems, is all about creating better governance systems in society. The digital tools and technologies help us in meeting the rising expectations of the public in a very big way. A symbiotic relationship between government departments and private sector is a must for development of better e-Governance systems. It is only with such partnership we will see good governance.

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