Having bagged the UN Public Service Award 2014 for its ‘Mobile Seva’ initiative, DeitY is busy working on NeGP 2.0 to transform the way e-gov operates and is perceived now, says Dr Rajendra Kumar, Joint Secretary DeitY tells Nayana Singh of Elets News Network.
How do you perceive the development of e-Governance ecosystem in the country?
We have come a long way with regard to e-Governance development in India. Ever since the approval of National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) in 2006, there have been numerous achievements in the domain of e-Governance. A large number of Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) have become operational and are delivering services to the citizens and businesses. Currently, over 11 crore transactions are being delivered every month under these MMPs. So, in terms of reaching out to citizens and providing them with various services through e-Governance, very significant progress has been made.
However, there have been several important developments during this period in the e-Governance domain that need to be incorporated in the overall framework to ensure that we take full advantage of these developments. These include emergence of latest technologies such as Cloud and mobile platform, need for transformation of processes through e-Governance and not just translation, need for integration of services and emergence of newer models of service delivery and implementation.
The portfolio of MMPs under the NeGP also needs to be enhanced to include more citizencentric domains and services. These are the areas in which we should effectively exploit the potential of e-Governance to bring truly online and integrated services for the benefit of the citizens. So, I would say that there is tremendous scope for improvement. We are currently working on development of “e-Kranti” or NeGP 2.0 to bring this paradigm into the realm of e-Governance.
“e-Kranti or NeGP 2.0 lays out the road map for e-governance in the country. It aims at transformation of e-governance in the country to transform governance’
In your opinion, what is the road map ahead for e-Governance?
The key goal of e-Governance is to enable all government services for electronic delivery to citizens and other stakeholders. So, in this domain, the key enablers are the government departments, which need to ensure provisioning of these services quickly through the electronic platform. As I mentioned, e-Kranti or NeGP 2.0 clearly lays out the road map for e-Governance in the country. It aims at transformation of e-Governance in the country to transform governance. The specific areas of focus include utilizing the cloud and mobile platforms for delivering services, transformation of the government processes, integration of services and providing the next-generation ICT infrastructure on demand to all government departments. Latest and more agile implementation models can enable the departments in faster and more efficient delivery of e-government services. Use of social media tools to involve the citizens and other stakeholders in e-Governance is also an important area of focus.
Use of mobile platform for delivering services can tremendously enhance the reach and access to these services in view of the much higher mobile phone penetration in the country compared to access to the Internet. DeitY has already implemented the Mobile Seva initiative in this domain, which is currently being utilized by over 1,000 central and state government departments and agencies across the country to provide mobile-based services to the citizens and businesses. I have conceptualized and led the implementation of this initiative within DeitY from the beginning. This project has already won international laurels for the country. Very recently, it won the 2014 United Nations Public Service Award for promoting whole-of-government approach in the information age. This year, Mobile Seva is the only winner of this award from India.
“Use of mobile platform for delivering services can tremendously enhance the reach and access to these services in view of the much higher mobile phone penetration in the country compared to access to the Internet”
Talking about the health sector, education or even BFSI sector, how e-Governance can play the role of a facilitator?
There is a huge scope for deploying ICT in these sectors to bring in more efficiency and improve service delivery to the citizens. In education, for example, we can put the entire course content in easy to read and interactive formats online on the Cloud platform, which students can access, download or read as per their convenience on their mobile devices. We can connect the schools in rural areas and put applications on the Cloud platform, so that students can access the content online through mobile devices. There are many ways and still more can be thought of for accelerating the delivery of services in the education sector.
Coming to the health sector, most of the interface with the citizens in the health delivery system in the country is manual at present. We can automate that interface to a large extent through applications on a Cloud platform and through mobile-based interface in the field. Today, the health workers move from house to house collecting data. Most of the field-level data collection can be done using mobile handheld devices with pre-loaded applications. The field level functionaries can gather more information and capture data in real time and the services can be majorly accelerated. Mobile apps, voice-based interface or SMS can be very helpful in informing mothers about immunization and other such services.
Similarly, the financial sector is also full of e-gov opportunities, as many people still do not have bank accounts. If we can have a good network of Business Correspondents (BCs) in rural areas, a huge difference can be effected. It can help in a big way towards achieving the goal of financial inclusion. And, if this is done on a mobile platform, more and more people can be brought into the realm of Financial Inclusion. Mobile money transfer can be another game changer. We can have Aadhaar-based authentication for transactions at the village level.
At policy level, what initiatives are in pipeline?
DeitY is the nodal ministry for the purpose of e-Governance in the country. Our main role has been to formulate an e-gov plan for the country and bring all other ministries and states on board and provide them with support in the form of core ICT infrastructure, standards, policies, capacity building etc., so as to ensure delivery of electronic services to the citizens. We have created core ICT infrastructure across the country to enable the departments roll out their services. For example, we have erected State Wide Area Networks (SWAN) and put in place the State Data Centres across the country. We have also rolled out Common Service Centres (CSC) in the rural areas and created a middleware, State Service Delivery Gateways (SSDGs), across the states.
The Mobile Seva initiative has provided all the government departments in the country with a mobile platform to provide mobile-based services. We have also launched the Cloud platform. The common ICT infrastructure mentioned above allows the departments to quickly roll out their services without creating their own infrastructure. We have also notified e-Governance standards to ensure that the applications are interoperable. We are now working on creating a platform for e-authentication, named “e-Pramaan”. This will allow government departments to electronically authenticate the identity of service seekers completely online without the need for any manual authentication.
“So far, e-gov services have been mostly delivered individually; there has not been any significant effort at integration. Utilizing the ICT infrastructure for delivering integrated services through web and mobile platforms will metamorphose e-governance”
Our goal is to fully implement the idea of e-Kranti or NeGP 2.0 to completely transform e-Governance in the country from the point of view of delivering electronic services to the citizens and other stakeholders. It envisages enhancement of the portfolio of projects under the NeGP, complete process transformation, integration of services, providing next generation ICT infrastructure to the government departments on demand, incorporating latest technologies like Cloud and mobile and delivery through more agile implementation models. This will bring about a paradigm shift in the e-Governance landscape.
So far, e-Governance services have been mostly delivered individually; there has not been any significant effort at integration. Utilizing the common ICT infrastructure for delivering integrated services through web and mobile platforms will transform the way people perceive e-Governance now. This will also significantly reduce the time required by the departments to go live with their electronic services, as they would need to focus mainly on developing applications. We are also focusing on replication of applications through an e-Governance Appstore framework, so that the same applications need not be developed again and again.
“DeitY has implemented the Mobile Seva initiative…currently being utilized by over 1,000 central and state government departments and agencies across the country to provide mobile-based services to the citizens and businesses”