Having participated in a number of government projects, now the company has set its eyes on the projects heralding the next phase of eGovernance in India, Deepak Khosla, President – Asia & Australia, NIIT Technologies, tells Dr Ravi Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, eGov, and Souvik Goswami of Elets News Network (ENN). Excerpts from an interview.
NIIT Technologies has global footprint in several sectors. How do you think the Government of India can benefit from your global experience in use of IT?
NIIT Technologies is a full-spectrum global IT solutions company addressing client requirements across various continents like America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Our service offerings encompass Application Development and Maintenance (ADM), Infrastructure Management Services (IMS), Digital Services and Business Process Management (BPM).
We have supported many global organisations in using Information Technology effectively to enhance productivity and reduce costs. Our global knowledge and local market expertise across focussed verticals have been leveraged extensively for critical projects for the Government of India. One such project was the implementation of an e-Auction platform for the India Tobacco Board. In this project, we brought together our ADM and IMS knowledge on one platform. Our e-Auction platform helped the board to come up with a unique outcome-based pricing model, which sets a classic example of bringing our overall expertise to India. We have been successful in customising our platform for procurement and auction developed in Singapore for India.
Worldwide, we have strong capabilities in SAP as well. Thus, we have come up with this mastery in India in specific areas, such as public finance management, sales tax, etc. These are new-dimension products of SAP and we are one of the few partners in Asia who have successfully implemented them for various organisations.
Tell us more about NIIT Technologies’ capabilities in the area of public finance and the way it has impacted government efficiency as well as citizen transactions.
There are two areas where we are seeing lots of initiatives being undertaken by the Government of India: one is for bringing reforms and transparency in managing finance, and the other, towards efficiency enhancement. A Comprehensive Financial Management System (CFMS) programme is being run across several states in the country. We have taken a modular approach for implementing CFMS. Partnering with SAP, NIIT Technologies has developed a Futuristic Enterprise Class solution intended to streamline and modernise the management of the state’s finances. It is a decision support system that ushers in effectiveness, efficiency, transparency and accountability in the public finance management system across the verticals in a state; it is an integrated finance and expenditure module starting from treasury to wages. CFMS is a transformational programme with a significant programme size and magnitude.
The Government of India is talking about implementing IT on a large scale for better governance. How, according to you, the government can partner with the private sector to benefit from their skills?
In my opinion, the government, along with private companies, needs to collaborate more to increase efficiency. We need lots of change drivers within the government to lead and push any initiative to its logical conclusion.
There is much talk about NeGP 2.0. What is this programme all about and how can a company like NIIT Technologies play a role in it?
NeGP 2.0 is a programme that aims to take eGovernance in the country to the next level by implementing new-age technologies and platforms. Moreover, it attempts to replicate previous best practices, thereby, creating more synergy among various departments and ministries.
NIIT Technologies can play a vital role in this programme with our proficiency in various domains, including Smart Cities, Public Finance, Commercial Taxes/ GST, e-Municipality, GIS and Analytics, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems – CCTNS 2.0 (SMAC Integration & Smart Policing) and ERP in states/PSUs.
Do you think that the ‘Digital India’ campaign will help in this?
Change is always difficult. We have to recognise that it won’t be easy to shift from a manual way of working to completely dive into technology. In this context, let me remind you about a 25-year-old scenario when there were strong protests against computerisation. Imagine today’s banking industry without computers and technology! Today, we are at a different stage where we witness multiple challenges that need to be addressed, keeping change in mind. These challenges cannot be buttonholed by the vendor and requires government intervention.
Do you think that Indian companies as a whole have done enough to sensitise the government machinery on the benefits of usage of IT?
I think awareness is there and we can see people at the top being guided by vision. However, the challenge is to see the vision getting translated into reality. It is a standard example of vision versus execution. Hence, I feel that there should be more awareness and workshops should be held in a more participative and collaborative manner. If we take examples from other countries, we can see that public-private partnerships have been more collaborative in nature.
What is your suggestion for a magazine like eGov, which can play a pivotal role in creating awareness on eGovernance in the country?
I think the eGov magazine is positioned uniquely and can play a huge part as a change agent with its wide readership.