Going Digital is the Way Forward: Rajesh Aggarwal

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Rajesh Aggarwal, Additional Secretary & Financial Advisor, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India

With the Government of India’s continuous efforts to take the growth and development in the country to newer heights, significant transformational changes can be observed in India today. Emphasizing on India’s stride towards development, Elets Technomedia organised India Transformation Summit from July 10 to July 12.

Rajesh Aggarwal, Additional Secretary & Financial Advisor, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India, a renowned bureaucrat participated in the inaugural session of the three-day summit and delivered his point of view on the changing scenarios. Talking about but not limited to the petroleum domain, Mr Aggarwal touched points on policy and guidelines, ‘aatma nirbhar bharat’, make in India, ease of doing business, and so on.

Mr Aggarwal said, “When we talk of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat and Make in India, it is extremely imperative that Ease of Business mantra actually reaches the ground.”

Taking his address towards subsidies offered during the time of Coronavirus crisis, Mr Aggarwal stated, “In petroleum, we pushed in money in advance for three months for cylinders in accounts of Jan Dhan Account holders, Rs 500 per month. Luckily, people do not have to fill any forms or do any formalities. The government had the account details and benefits were transferred to beneficiaries directly in their bank accounts.” Active tracking of the DBT transfers was done and it was seen that the banks were actually pushing Rs 3 crore, Rs 4 crore every day to the accounts of the beneficiaries, he added.

Highlighting a few loopholes, he said, “However, in many processes, people still have to fill up forms. So we need to work on that. Every form is input, there is processing involved and then there is an output.”

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Elaborating on the forms, Mr Aggarwal said that the forms can be reduced in size or even eliminated, can be made online and for those who do not know much of the online processes, they can visit the nearby CSCs. Moreover, “we can make the collection of data in a home-delivery manner wherein a person from the authority can reach to people’s house and collect the relevant and needed data.” Citing an example of a few foreign countries as a corrective step, Mr Aggarwal added that in many countries there is ‘Tell Me Once’ concept wherein the government takes the data only once and that is used for each and every service and department whenever in need.

“In addition, many times we have to pay fees with the forms or input and filling a bank challan for that payment is one of the worst methods. There have to be various payment modes- like online, through UPI, cards, etc.”, added Mr Aggarwal. However, as a good move by the Indian government such payment mechanism, consent-based data sharing, digital and prefilled forms are getting available for various processes, he said.

Throwing light on the rise in the use of e-governance and better mechanisms for various government processes, Mr Aggarwal gave an example of the Government of Maharashtra. He said, “A few years back, the Maharashtra government released a notice saying that for regular processes there should be no more than two steps. Even for policies, no more than three steps to be taken for complete processing.”

Further, he said, “The processing should be transparent and the citizens must be able to track their applications and its status.” Taking up the output part of the government process, Mr Aggarwal said that the output should be made more and more digital so that the citizen does not visit the office time and again to receive it. He cited the example of Digilocker saying, “We first designed it in Maharashtra and I am happy that the Government of India took our model and modified it for more services and better delivery and recognised it for use pan India.” Hence, now with Digilocker in place, people need not carry the hardcopy of their ID, pan card, driving license, vehicle registration certificate, etc. and the digital file in the Digilocker can be shown to police officials or at government offices when and where required.

Also Read: Moving Towards Cashless Economy: Rajesh Aggarwal

Moreover, now as “the government is pushing mark sheets and certificates to the portal, students do not have to download or print certificates for submission to colleges while admissions. They only have to give consent to the respective college authority to access that particular document from Digilocker for admission formalities.”

Further, he addressed issues where the business owners or startups have to fill up numerous forms for setting up their businesses and for fetching various permissions. He also spoke about forms people have to fill to file tax returns. Mr Aggarwal stated that for such processes there should be pre-filled and consent-based forms. This can reduce the processing time significantly. He cited an example of Estonia saying there the government claims that it takes only three minutes for filing tax returns.

Mr Aggarwal concluded, “The new voters should not fill up forms to get their voter cards but it should be digital, it is the 21st century. More and more digital mechanisms should be adopted to reduce processing time and improve the accuracy and quality of work.”

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