ICONECS Session on
‘e-Content in Governance and Business’

October 16, 2008

By Gaurang Sharma

Governance and business go hand in hand and are the two most important driving forces for any country. Therefore, it is inevitable that the ICONECS session on ‘e-Content in Governance and Business’ saw eminent personalities and experts from these fields making presentations and explaining how they were making use of ICT tools and digital content to boost development.

How technology can turn a Union Territory like Lakshadweep, facing lack of adequate transport facilities and communication, into an ideal e–governed state, was seen in the presentation made by Mr. B. V. Selvaraj, Administrator of Lakshadweep. Various projects like total digitization of employment services, digitization of electricity department, web-enabled ship ticket reservation system, total digitization of anganwadi centres, video conferencing facilities, e-permit, common integrated police applications (CIPA) have narrowed down the gap between governing and governed. He pointed out how the use of Information and technology has done wonders for Lakshadweep in terms of education, health, and administration.

Another commendable endeavour to improve the lives of the farming community was seen in IIITM- (Kerala) initiative KISSAN. According to Mr Ajith kumar from IIITMK¸ information technology offers immense potential in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of agriculture extension programmes, trade and dissemination of best practices. He explained how this innovative project by the department of agriculture, government of Kerala, has been a unique pilot in implementation of application of information technology through relevant information systems and networking to aggregate, share and disseminate information of importance and interest to farmers, agriculture workers and officials in ways that enhance the total agricultural development.

Similarly, Chattisgarh has set an example of how people living in forest areas were made aware of their rights and the (recognition of forest rights) Act, 2006 was enacted. In this case as well, information technology is being used to make them aware of their rights and what to do incase their rights are infringed upon.

Another glowing example of making use of digital content for bringing about good e-governance was SHUJAN, an initiative of concerned citizens of Bangladesh with the purpose of promoting democracy, decentralization, electoral reforms, clean politics and accountable government. Mr Zia-ul-Habib elaborated the success of SHUJAN, meaning shushanar janniya nagorik in Bangla, which is a website where citizens are informed in their local language about the profile of the contesting candidates. The website is not supported by NGOs but by the citizens themselves.

Mr Murli Krishnan from e-bay explained how their initiative had made use of the Internet to create tremendous opportunities for a layman to become entrepreneurs. Such efforts prove that the Internet is a fabulous market place, connecting buyers and sellers, and more effectively and remove the middleman.

We cannot forget the fact that it is vital in a democracy that the people get chance to ventilate their grievances. For this purpose, technology should be made use of if we desire effective e-governance. In this context, Sonal mishra, an IAS officer from Gujarat, talked about JAN SEVA KENDRA, an innovative e-governance initiative to provide various governments to citizen services to the citizens of Gandhinagar, in a transparent and efficient manner, through an improvised single interface at the district collectorate.
Such endeavours symbolize the fact that the 21st century has to be the period of e governance.

An addition to these examples of making use of ICT for good governance was Sanwad, where Mr Yogesh Sharma told the audience about this online public grievance system.
Dr Sunil Kumar from TCS innovation lab enlightened the audiences about a novel mobile interface to register their complaints. Through the use of mobile technology and the use of local languages in the communication citizens grievances can be redressed more effectively.

Although these initiatives have shown that efforts are being made in the direction of keeping pace with the technologically growing world, ICT tools and digital content still have to touch a large number of populations to change their lives for better via  e-governance and business enterprise.

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