T K Ramachandran
Secretary, Information Technology Department
Government of Tamil Nadu
“There is no denying the ubiquitous role of ICTs in our society, from the way in which we communicate, network and interact, to the way in which we learn, play, and conduct business or access government services,” says T K Ramachandran.
How do you see the e-Governance initiatives that have been launched in the country?
The Government in Tamil Nadu has taken and is poised to take a number of new initiatives in e-Governance specially in the areas of Analytics, Mobile computing and Cloud technology. On the whole people are benefitting from such projects. However, in order to derive maximum benefit from e-Governance it is necessary that there should be sufficient awareness among the people.
e-Governance can prove truly transformative in the governance space, when there is better awareness and understanding of the role of such systems in the achievement of sustainable development goals. Such awareness and understanding is particularly necessary among policy and decision makers. Those who are playing a key role in governance should have a view on the potential and risks involved in the use of ICTs within specific development settings.
They must have the knowledge of the enabling environment required for the implementation of ICT solutions in areas like regulations, standards, finance, institutions human resources etc. In my opinion the ICTs are a key and inseparable part of the ‘present we have.’ There is no denying the ubiquitous role of ICTs in our society, from the way in which we communicate, network and interact, to the way in which we learn, play, and conduct business or access government services. There also has to be awareness amongst the people, who are the ultimate beneficiaries of all e-Governance initiatives.
When you are putting so much of government data online, then you also have to be concerned about the issue of cyber security. What kind of cyber security measures are you implementing to ensure that government data that is being put online is safeguarded from malicious attacks?
Cyber security related concerns are there all over the world, but many advanced countries have already moved their work in the online space. Even in our own country, a large number of states have started using IT systems in a big way.
The standards for secure transactions and security have been set by the Government of India. Online transactions are now fairly common in government departments, banks, private companies and the end users. Of course, we need to have adequate cyber security systems in place, while we continue to bring more and more of our work in the online domain.
The systems that are being developed in Tamil Nadu have the same or higher level of security that the government departments in other states presently have. The State Data Centre and other hardware facilities are completely secure and were among the first to receive ISO certification. In your opinion what are the main achievements of Tamil Nadu in the area of e-Governance? I would like to say that the Government of Tamil Nadu is now giving lot of emphasis to using solutions from Information and Communication Technology to improve the systems of governance.
The state is a front-runner when it comes to implementation of various e-Governance programmes both of the State Government and also the schemes under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). As you are already aware, Tamil Nadu has a very well managed state portal through which citizens can access many services and the much needed information. We are extensively promoting the use of IT in managing the government’s internal processes.
The State Data Centre in Tamil Nadu is working well and State Wide Area Network has also been rolled out. Under the visionary leadership of our Chief Minister, several 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 with minimum hassle.
Please tell us about the work being done by Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (TNeGA). How would you rate the work being done by TNeGA for promoting e-Governance in the state?
With the idea of developing e-Governance at a faster pace in Tamil Nadu, the State Government has established the Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (TNeGA). The primary objective of TNeGA is to design, deliver and administer e-Governance projects by providing the necessary administrative, financial, legal and technical framework in the State.
Over the years, TNeGA has been playing a seminal role in facilitating the development of e- service centres throughout the State through suitable public-private partnerships. The organisation is dedicated to ensuring that the public in the State does not have to come to government offices necessarily for accessing different services. They can interact with the departments literally at their doorsteps. Tamil Nadu has in fact progressively aligned its entire e-Governance plan in consonance with NeGP, ever since its formulation in May 2006 by the Government of India.
Mission of Information Technology Department in Tamil Nadu
• Provide Government services, both informational and transactional, to Citizens at their door steps through the internet at the earliest
e-Tendering is known to bring a lot of transparency in the functioning of the government. What kind of work are you doing in this area?
Anyone can go to the website of The Tamil Nadu Government Tenders Information System (http://www.tenders.tn.gov.in/) and find out the information on the tenders that have been floated by different departments in the state. Most departments in the state are now using the e-Tendering system. This is resulting in lot of transparency and is also bringing substantial reduction in the operating costs of these departments.
The Common Service Centres have been envisioned as the front end delivery points for Government and Private Services to the rural citizens. How are the CSCs doing in Tamil Nadu?
The Common Service Centres are playing a most seminal role in the realization of the vision of NeGP to provide all government services in an integrated manner at the doorstep of the citizen at an affordable cost.
The Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY), Government of India, has formulated the plan to roll out more than one lakh CSCs across the country through Public Private Partnership. In Tamil Nadu, 5440 CSCs are being developed. These centres are in various stages of development. Two Service Centre Agencies (SCA) have been selected by the State through a transparent bidding process to rollout the CSCs in their allotted divisions. More than 2500 CSCs are already operational across the state and are providing several online services to the citizens.
e-Governance in Tamil Nadu is Truly Transformative in governance
Today we are seeing a very significant rise in the expectations that people have from the government. How do government servants cope up with these rising expectations and demands?
You are right in saying that there is huge rise in expectations from the people. In my opinion, today there is no alternative to e-Governance precisely because we are having a quantum rise in the expectations that people have from all branches of the government.
A large percentage of our population is the youth. This younger generation expects a better way of life and The State government, is trying its best to live up to the rising expectations. What people are demanding is basically good governance, and that can only come when we have effective e-Governance systems in place. e-Governance is a therefore a necessity in today’s world!