Digital Maharashtra in the Making: Kaustubh Dhavse

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Kaustubh Dhavse

Kaustubh Dhavse, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Chief Minister, Government of Maharashtra, in conversation with Kartik Sharma, Arpit Gupta, Sneha Mejari & Poulami Chakraborty, says that technology is driving effi ciency in the State and completely transforming the way the government delivers its services to citizens

What is the vision of Chief Minister for ‘Digital Maharashtra’ and what is the roadmap to realise it?

The Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri Devendra Fadnavis, firmly believes that technology can help drive efficiency and thus help administration provide a more comprehensive ecosystem to deliver its duties. On 21st November 2014, the Hon’ble Chief Minister reviewed the digital roadmap of the state at a high-level meeting. He has defined specific expectations from all state departments on their overall IT adoption, key projects and the future course. Thus was born the five-year plan of Digital Maharashtra.

There are about 48 projects spanning across the departments within the government and the progress is monitored and issues are resolved to help aid speedy implementation. The projects are divided into three categories:

Category 1 comprises projects, which are related to internal processes within the government. The CM encouraged all secretaries to take a detailed view of the way their department is interacting with other departments and set specific SLAs for delivering up to each-other’s expectation. Most departments have already embarked on a comprehensive BPR exercise and will use technology to service each-other’s requests faster. This phase is about building a strong internal setup to respond to ever-increasing workloads.

Category 2 projects are department specific. We have segregated departments as citizen facing and support, and each one has its set agenda to further improve effectiveness.

Category 3 projects are large-scale implementations, which will have a remarkable impact on the state as a whole. Our flagship ‘Aaple Sarkar’ programme is one such example of a Category 3 project.

We firmly believe that within the next three years, all our projects will reach completion stage and that will have a significant impact on the way administration functions…it will help change citizens’ perception towards the government delivering its services.

Is `Digital Village’ programme going to be a one-of-its-kind initiative ever undertaken in the country? What is the concept and who are the stakeholders?

Digital Village is all about rural empowerment. Better management of rural economy, providing opportunities at par with cities and bringing them to mainstream, so that they can enjoy the benefits of a progressing state/nation.

We firmly believe that within the next three years, all our projects will reach completion stage and that will have a significant impact on the way administration functions…it will help change citizens’ perception towards the government delivering its services

From its planning and concept, it is indeed one of its kind in the country. Lot of work has gone into identifying the core indexes of the villages and then identifying a plan to help review and rejuvenate the rural ecosystem.

Under the able leadership of a young and dynamic Chief Digital Village is all about rural empowerment, better management of rural economy Minister, what changes have occurred in terms of digital literacy to the last mile?

Digital literacy is one of the core components of the Central Government’s Digital India programme. Unless people know how to access and use digital services, they will never enjoy the benefits of the programmes being implemented by the state. Various programmes are running in parallel to push digital literacy level up. On account of very high mobile phone penetration, we have already created a reach. Now, we need to utilise methods to deploy the right content, so that information dissemination is consistent with the laid principals and people feel empowered with information.

The State has taken aggressive steps to drive up digital literacy through our well established network of citizen service centers, through district offices and other reach-out mechanisms.

The Central Government is trying to give the country’s outlook a kind of facelift, which had never been witnessed in the past. How is the Maharashtra Government contributing to the efforts of the Centre and what help are you getting from them?

The vision set by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narednra Modi is both inspirational and time bound. His concept of minimum government and maximum governance now resonates across the entire country and our state is no different. With the Hon’ble Chief Minister taking active interest in the deployment of technologies, we can safely say that Maharashtra in the next few years will have established systems and procedures in place, which will draw national and international acclaim.

What are your plans for development in Maharashtra in the next five years? If the pace of development happens according to your plan, where do you position the State in the coming years?

Our state’s greatest strength lies is our IT Department, which has officers of remarkable calibre, pedigree and unrelenting drive to help achieve IT goals. Our entire focus is on the implementation of the 48 projects which have been announced by the Hon’ble CM and if we accomplish those projects in a time- bound fashion, we would be creating an altogether new Maharashtra.

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