Digital Solutions for e-Governance & e-Infrastructure
One of the first parallel sessions of the day was dedicated to discussion of the best ICT practices in the field of e-Governance & e-Infrastructure. In today’s world, transparent and efficient governance has become a must for growth and development of country. Also the development of requisite infrastructure is growing day by day. The session aimed at addressing these issues with the help of ICT tools and digitization. The session was chaired by Dr. Rajendra Kumar, Joint Secretary (e-Gov) – Department of Electronics & Information Technology (Govt. of India) & Moderator was Ms. Vineeta Dixit, Principal Consultant, NeGP-DIT.

First presentation was from the State Govt. of Madhya Pradesh who had come with their project MP Online – online assessment examinations for Patwari recruitments, represented by Mr. Pramod Bhargava. He shared that MP Govt. is the only state Govt. to start online assessment for the Patwari recruitments. Various issues such as bogus applications, biasedness in the selection and verification process and leakage of examination papers lead the MP govt. to make the process online. Looking at the importance of Patwari in the local govt. scheme, this step had become a necessity. He added that this year, for example 1-lakh students applied out of which 87000 were verified and 85000 sat for the examination. After seeing the success of the exams, many more exams relating to agricultural and e-governance department have been conducted online. This has also led to the inclusion of an important rule in the selection process; candidates are now required to have basic knowledge of operating computers and this should be certified from a trusted organization. The MP govt. had setup test centres in the remotest of the areas so that the examinee saves times and effort that is involved in commuting to far off test center. This is certainly an impressive initiative from a state govt.

Next presentation was by Mr. Chatura Dilan Perera from Information and Communication Technology Agency, Sri Lanka about their project ICTA Mobile Portal. The presenter shared that ICTA is a semi Govt. organization that delivers information about the various govt. bodies and services. Their portal delivers services about the location as well as the contact details of the searched Govt. body. The presenter then showed the screenshots of the mobile portal. The ease of accessing the mobile portal from anywhere and from any device makes it a stand out application.

Everybody knows that what RTI Act or the Right to Information Act is and what purpose does it solve in an ordinary citizens life. The Act says that the any taxpayer is entitled to receive information about any service for which he is paying and the govt. is primarily obliged to provide this info. Still we know how much pain it can be to file an RTI. For long time people were awaiting a digital solution for this problem, which was rightly solved by RTI Nation. RTI Nation was started on 15th of August 2009 and was termed as the “independence gift from the IIT M grads to the country” by HT. Having received the Karma Veer Chakra Award, they are the only portal in the country that has digitized the process of filing an RTI application. They provide end-to-end support for filing an RTI making it so easy that even a layman can do this. Using their site you can make your application not only structurally correct but also make them reach the correct people resulting in the certainty of a reply. They have filed over 10000 applications so far and are looking to create a Facebook application too.

The next presenter was Mr. Sandeep Nath from Basix Laboratories. He was here to present their project on Basix Convenience Centres which are in liaison with the Common Service Centre scheme of e-governance policy of Indian govt. The Basix Laboratories have always been known for their social service models and this too was a similar initiative. Apart from offering various G2C services from their centres, BCOs offer variety of other services. These centres focus on livelihood generation and framing practices that are relevant from the villagers’ point of view. Mr. Sandeep then acquainted the audience with some of the projects they have been running through the BCOs in Tripura. Most prominent amongst them is the model of financial inclusion. The BCOs act as mini bank branches where people can open their bank accounts. These BCOs have also trained local people in the basic Microsoft technologies such as MS office. These trainees now train many other people on a paid basis. Likewise medical care facilities and many more services can be provided through BCOs that are becoming the shrines of development.

The session witnessed various Govt. departments showcasing their projects. One of them was e-Governance Portal for Animal Husbandry, Dept. Jharkhand, represented by Mr. Ranjeet Kumar. He shared that some of the main reason for setting up this portal were dissemination of information to the farmers about the latest agricultural practices, to remove the lethargy in the dept. and to provide real time info such as weather forecasts, market prices etc. The new portal apart from providing the services mentioned above, has various innovative features. It has connected the real time cattle census online. Management Information System has been introduced which has made the collaboration and tracking of department activities easy. Also the service of G2C services has improved impressively. Promotion of the e-tender practice has improved the transparency of the govt. functioning. With a high rate of implementation, this is certainly a great initiative.

Students can be the driving force of any country’s progress. This fact was confirmed and proved by Vinny Lohan, the next presenter, who shared that they have developed a revolutionary technology while studying in New Zealand. While working on his project (for a competition), he realized that despite of the availability of the cheap laptops and other such devices, they are of no use without Internet. And the regions where such devices are used don’t have any basic access to Internet. To solve this problem, Vinny came with a solution OneBeep. Using this technology, any digital file, be it document, game or software, can be converted to sound waves. Most the poor regions of the world have some kind of access to radio waves, be it community radio or FM band. The sound waves, converted from the device, can now be broadcasted on the radio frequency. These sound waves, using the OneBeep software can again be decoded into their original digital format. Not only did this project made him win the competition, but was also named amongst the top three technologies set to change the world by GE. Vinny has plans to give this technology free to Indians and is working very hard for it.

Another govt. initiative to be showcased in this session was the NSDG project by the C-DAC, Mumbai. Dr. Zia Saquib says NSDG stands for National e-governance Service Delivery Gateway. It is an integrated MMP or Mission Mode Project and aims at creating a service delivery gateway between various backhand services. It seeks to unite the varied technology and platforms used by various govt. departments onto one platform. The need for this project was felt because the information exchange between various govt. departments was very scattered and lacked a uniform face. Now citizens can get all the information they need about various departments from a single platform. The inter department exchange of information has also become very efficient. For example, now for getting a passport, you need not visit there multiple times or go to the police station or other departments for verification separately. Everything can be done from the single place. This will also boost the centralized collection of data.

Next presenter was Mr. Manish Maheshwari from txtWeb. Starting with a warm up exercise for the audience, Mr. Manish went on to explain the inspiration behind his company txtWeb. He presented a very interesting fact that almost 3 billion mobile users in the world (which is by the way half of humanity) don’t have access to Internet. The main inspiration behind the project has been to provide an access to the information to all these people with the help of technology already present in their pockets, the mobile. There answer was to discover the Internet with text SMS or txtWeb. By sending simple SMS, one can access information from any website of world. You send the topic you are looking for with the code word for the website and the server replies with the relevant information. You can reply with the character codes sent in the messages to get further details on the topic. The best part is, in India it supports all languages. The service is capable of sending location-enabled services like weather forecasts etc. It is essentially a platform, with the help of which developers can make apps to reach out those 3 billion people and users can access information. Without much marketing steps and with about 3000+ apps already on the board, txtWeb is connecting masses.

The penultimate project was Meeseva Centre by Andhra Pradesh Govt. The presenter Dr. K. Gopinatha started by explaining what was the traditional paper service model of delivering G2C services, where citizen would first submit the documents, which will be followed by verification process and even after multiple visits there was no guarantee of delivery of services. This also made the process non transparent and redundant. Thus, in line the CSC scheme under the National e-governance policy, they came up with Meeseva Centre. Meeseva in the vernacular language means “at your service”. Indeed these centres have proven to be at the service of citizens. Now most of the govt. services are delivered through internet enabled kiosks. Online submission of data is done and all verifications are done online. Digitally signed cards have been given to the citizens who can use them to avail a large variety of G2C services. Thus has been a revolutionary move by the Andhra Pradesh govt. This project was appreciated by Digital Empowerment Foundation but was not a nominee of Manthan Award 2012.

Last presenter of the session was Mr. Sudhanshu Tripathy from Mid-Day Meal Authority, U.P. He was here to showcase their project on IVRS Aadharit Dainik Anushravan. Mid-day meal, as we all know is an important welfare scheme run by the govt. of India. Accordingly is suffers from the issues that are present with most welfare schemes of govt. For example, bogus delivery and advanced receipts, failure to track the actual delivery process, slow action owing to hierarchical system and many more. In order to remove these problems, the UP govt. sought to use the IVR technique for the real time tracking of the delivery of services. For a long time, IVR has been used for the dissemination of information but never for collection of data. Today almost 1.5 lakh teachers in govt. schools receive calls from the centralized datacenter and these teachers report in real time the delivery or non-delivery of the mid-day meals. Undoubtedly the efficiency of the mid-day meal service is improving and creating welfare for people.

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