Corporates should work on creating Employment Opportunities for Rural Folks
This was a good opportunity for the whole of IT industry in India to witness some of the thought-provoking deliberations by various stakeholders at VARIndia IT Forum 2008. Though the topic was correct governance in India, the dignitaries listened to the core issue — bridging digital divide – being discussed by the panellists and the resource persons.
As great disparity still exists between the rural and urban folks as far as employment is concerned, Shri Chandra Sekhar Sahu, Minister of State for Rural Development, Government of India, called upon private organizations and especially the ICT industry to open up BPOs and call centres in the rural areas. Addressing a gathering of dignitaries at the VARIndia IT Forum 2008, he said, “e-Governance is a befitting answer to most of the issues that the country is grappling with at present. The growth of India can be achieved if we are able to offer employment to the youth in the rural areas, which comprises 70 per cent of the population. Rural unemployment being one of the biggest challenges in the country, the corporates should set up their back-end activities in the rural areas by creating BPO and call centre jobs. This will serve many purposes of both the government and the corporates. By doing so, the corporates will save a lot of revenue as they can engage very cheap labour in these locations and on the other side the congestion in the urban areas will be lessened. Along with this, the employee productivity will definitely be enhanced amidst the natural flora and fauna of the rural areas.”
Apprising the audience about the government projects, he said, “The present Government is emphasizing on expediting various projects, including creating massive e-Governance infrastructure, National ID, Citizen Databases, GIS and GPS, smart card and Digital content and e-Govenrence domain expertise.”
“In the last few years, we have achieved fairly good success. For example, through Bhoomi project in Karnataka, we have computerized the hand-written land records of thousand years old. Similarly, in Gujarat there are websites, whereby the citizens can interact with the government authorities on issues like land, water and taxes. In Andhra Pradesh, citizens, through e-Seva, can pay electricity, water and telephone bills as well as municipal taxes. They can also access reservation as well as birth and death certificates, and also avail other B2C services. e-Choupal makes available information to farmers about the global and local weather, scientific practices of cultivation and pricing of the produce sitting in a single place,” he maintained.
“SWAN and community information centres have been implemented through the PPP models to enable the citizens. The Ministry of Rural Employment has launched a rural portal for information exchange. It provides a gateway to around 150 websites. Some links include BPL census 2002, CAPART, etc. It provides details of Rural Development Department and their physical and financial status, tender notices, etc. which are available on the site. Saras Mela is available online to showcase the creativity of the rural artisans. National portal for NREGA has been developed to provide appropriate solution to the NREGA scheme. As you know, NREGA is the landmark legislation of the UPA Government, which provides 100 days of wage employment for every household in the rural areas,” he adds.
He adds, “Any success of e-Governance in this vast country is only dependent on the necessity of a system, which can bridge the digital divide. Any delivery mechanism, which is so fail-safe and so solid that it should surpass the intermittent power supply, slow connectivity and harsh weather conditions.”
Addressing the august audience, Sri Surya Narayan Patro, Hon’ble Minister for Information Technology, Government of Orissa, said, “Orissa is the second-highest investment state in the country. Rs.86,382 per capita investments have come to the state. The state has signed with 13 electricity companies to generate more than 16,800 MW of electricity in the state. In the last three-four years, all the big IT companies are in our state, including Infosys, Wipro, Satyam, TCS, Genpact and ICICI which have set up their centres in Orissa. Last year, our software exports were more than Rs.1,000 crore. And, 32,000 boys and girls in the state have been employed.
We have a very good IT policy in the state. We provide very good facilities to the enterprises in the form of land, electricity, water, etc. at subsidised rates. We have given land, which costs crores of rupees per acre, at the rate of Rs.25 lakh per acre. We provide constant supply of electricity and there are no labour laws as well. The state has 45–50 engineering colleges to feed the enterprises, but to get better quality; we have started an IIIT in Orissa to get the faculty members to hone the skills of students produced by the state engineering colleges. With concerted efforts of the state and the willingness of the corproates, our IT software exports will touch Rs.5,000-crore mark in two-three years’ time.” “We have also invited 300–400 college teachers and are training them along with Infosys, who will go and train their students to enhance their skills and make them suitable for the IT industry. We have to introduce English as the main subject in the rural areas. Orissa ranks No. 7 in terms of IT exports from India. Recently, we have taken another area called Infocity–2, a 600-acre plot of land, and given it for development through PPP model. DLF has been given 56 acres of land for development of infrastructure to the tune of 3 lakh sq. ft. of space. We have also talked to Rahejas for creating more infrastructure. Therefore, those IT enterprises who want to come to Orissa can take the premises on rent,” he added.
Emphasizing on e-Governance, he said, “Orissa has also achieved very good progress in e-Governance. We have made the land record registration computerized. In the electricity department, we have started computerized billing and e-Seva for complaint registration and bill payments. We are starting another programme called SWAN, which will enable us to communicate with the people at the Panchayat level. We are planning to open 5,000 common service centres. It will also be done in PPP mode.”
Welcoming the entrepreneurs to set up manufacturing and development centres in Orissa, the Minister said, “Any one or any enterprise intending to invest just Rs.10 crore and employ 100 people, will get very good subsidy from the Government of Orissa.”
Speaking about the development of primary schools, which can really lay a strong foundation for creating quality talent pool later on. Arun Kumar Rath, Secretary, School Education and Literacy, Government of India, said, “School education and literacy is the fundamental right of Indian citizens. The second important thing is that India is one of the signatories along with 164 countries of the world to the Education For All. The World Education Forum, Dakar, Senegal, ensures India’s commitment to provide education to all by 2015. This has initiated a lot of policy initiatives in the country and one being 2-per cent education cess on taxes. It is funding to the universalization of elementary education. The right to education is the right to elementary education – from class 1–8 from the age group of 6 to 18. Besides the cess, there has been a great upsurge in the Union Budget to allocate Rs.2 lakh crore for the development of the education sector. Without good primary school education, higher education cannot yield good results. Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, we have to build a primary school within 1 kilometre of every human habitation, an upper primary school within 3 kilometres, and if we are successful in this drive, we will start a secondary or senior secondary school within 5-7 kilometres. We have achieved 95 per cent of our target for primary schools and 90 per cent of our target for upper primary schools. So when these boys and girls come out of schools from class 8 where would they go? So, we have launched another scheme where we will launch 6,000 model secondary schools catering to 9th–12th classes. This number is exactly proportionate with 6,000 blocks in India. We are also committed to strengthening the secondary schools, which are not in good shape because of lack of funds. When you talk of IT, in the primary schools, we visualize that, apart from education, students can enhance their reading habits, activity-based learning. For that, we need computers. In the upper primary schools, we have recommended that the use of computers will come in a big way. Nearly 30 crore adult people are illiterate. There is a huge need for computer-aided programmes.”
Speaking on the IT initiatives in the state, Sri Sridarth, Secretary–IT, Government of West Bengal, said,–“We are concentrating more on geographically challenged people and physically challenged people. In the form of developing software, today, we have developed software for the visually impaired, which is being used in 120 schools in 20 states and 14 languages in our country. This has been developed by WEBEL in collaboration with IIT–Kharagpur. We have also received award for software for cerebral palsy from NASSCOM. We have also done a very good job in Tele-medicine and some of the North-East States are using this software extensively. There are four hospitals and 16 nodal hospitals are functioning on this software and our focus is to make it broad base in the state. We have developed a very good software for the videoconferencing, which costs only Rs.4,000. The pilot implementation has already been done in Vardhman district and is running successfully. We are further planning to take it to various other districts in the state. So far, the implementation has helped us a lot in many ways without actually wasting time during calamities or election report or even other circulars. We are able to save time on travel and reach to the audience quickly. We have also developed an integrated accounts management programme for the Zila Parishads, Panchayat Samitis and Gram Panchayats. The entire census report is there. The entire information and listing related to BPL families, land records, death and birth certificates, the GIS- based database or even transport department certifications are there. All 85 treasuries are linked today and the entire budgeting exercise has been automated and it is yielding us a very good result. Within a few minutes, if our finance secretary can know how much money has been spent in the state. These are the measures towards correct governance empowered by ICT for more accountability, transparency and citizen-centric that the state of West Bengal has done so far.”
He further adds, “Another vision of the state is to place itself among the top three states in the IT and ITeS space and contribute at least 15–20 per cent of the revenue and find a place for us, especially in high-end technology. We had nothing at the start of the century, but today we have more than 600 companies operating in Kolkata. Our exports are touching almost Rs.5,000 crore. We have 23-million sq. ft. office space under construction today in Kolkata. This is entirely dedicated to IT and ITeS. So, taking this into account, if we allot 100 sq. ft. per person, then in the next three years, we will employ 200,000 people in Kolkata. According to a survey, we have employed 80,000 people in this sector in this space. But our idea is more inclusive growth in the state, which gives us scope to expand to other cities in the state. We have commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to make a survey about the potential of other cities and they have identified Kalyani, Siliguri, Haldia and Kharagpur having great promise. Within no time after the report was published, people have started setting up IT parks in these cities. For example, Infinity Infotech has set up an IT Park in Siliguri; Videocon has taken IT SEZ in the same city; and Shapurji Palanji is setting up an IT Park in Durgapur. Similarly, in Kalyani, we have 100 acres of land with the IT Department of the Government of West Bengal, which will be converted into special economic zone. In Khargapur, we will have 150 acres advanced IT Park in order to leverage the advantage of IIT–Kharagpur. Besides, there are seven new SEZs, which have come up around Kolkata and are dedicated to IT. These have been developed by Unitech, DLF and Shapurji Palanji et al. We may be late starters, but we are not doing the catch-up game. Rather, we are trying to carve out a niche for us. The niche which has been identified being high-end technology, VLSI, semiconductor technology, etc. And, an India Design Centre has been launched in Kolkata and the idea is to make the entire ecosystem of the development of semiconductor industry available under one roof. We have state-of-the-art laboratory and we are also going for prototype chip manufacturing there. On the first floor, we will have advanced training course on VLSI industry. On the second floor, we will have advance course on VLSI, which will be collaborated through IIT–Khargpur and at the third floor we will have an incubation centre. Fourth floor onwards will be available to companies for commercial activities at reasonable rates. Also, there will have provision for making software tools, which will be available on rent. These are the facilities we have been creating and we have been receiving fantastic response about this India Design Centre. Finally, we have been able to give a land to Infosys in Kolkata and Wipro also has taken a land to set up their second campus. Similarly, HSBC have set up huge campuses in Kolkata spread in three locations. TCS has tripled its strength to 21,000 workforce in Kolkata. The airport is situtated within 20 minutes distance of the IT parks. We have been rated as the best power state in the country. The state has a very good transportation mechanism. We have very good talent pool with domain expertise. We have two institutes for the courses relevant to the IT industry. We have a training subsidy which is a unique thing. The idea is that if you come to Bengal and you need to train your people, we are ready to share the cost. If you train them and retain them, we are ready to give you up to Rs.20,000 per candidate. We also have venture capital to assist the budding entrepreneurs. As far as school education is concerned, we have identified 65 schools in the remote areas last year, where more than 60 per cent of the students come from the weaker sections of the society, SC and ST. We have given computers and LCDs and lessons, which are common to most boards in the world. Children, with the help of multimedia, are taught in these remote schools. We have also 6,797 common citizen service centres. We are expanding our WEB-SWAN very soon. We are very sure that very soon we will be able to tap the potential of the rural areas.”
Speaking on connectivity and broadband for everyone, R. Sivakumar, Managing Director, Intel (South Asia) Pvt. Ltd., said, “We believe what Internet is to the 21st century, electricity was to the 20th century, because, essentially, when electricity was invented, people didn't really have a clue of what exactly is going to happen. It is the same feeling when the Internet came out because there were wild guesses on what the Internet was going to do.”
Let us have a look at our situation in India. Within the next four years, in China, close-to quarter billion people will be using Internet, whereas in India 70–80 million people will be accessing Internet. As of now, India has about 3 million broadband connections, whereas china has close-to 75 million broadband connections. In 1999-2000, India and Brazil had the same number of broadband connections, which was almost zero. Somewhere in the 2003 timeframe, Brazil made a commitment to build up an IP infrastructure and a broadband infrastructure to benefit their citizens. That investment has now started to pay off. By 2011-12, Brazil will have about 20-per cent penetration of broadband. According to our current projections, India will get about 3 per cent during the same period.
The most scary thing is what happens to GDP. One message that I would like to convey is to become ambassadors for influencing whoever you can in building up the broadband infrastructure. Now that we are growing at the rate of 7–8 per cent a year, we are going to do that till 2020 or beyond, but there are very fundamental assumptions built into that. One of those assumptions is that we will continue to be part of the global economy and it is not going to happen by transacting businesses the way we have done in the past 100 years. We need to take into consideration two key aspects: connectivity should not remain restricted to the 10 per cent of the people who are rich in this country and who can afford these devices, but at least make it so affordable that 30–40 per cent of the population can buy the devices and connectivity.
On the accessibility front, there is a very slow expansion of devices, but surely it is going to pick up momentum next month. The computer industry is categorized by laptops and desktops, but starting from the first week of June, a huge explosion of new set of devices is coming to the market and these devices are going to flood every segment of human life. The purpose of these devices is to connect people to the Internet at relatively cheaper terms. In 2008, device tsunami is going to happen. All these are going to get connected worldwide on a wireless infrastructure and the technology that you might be familiar with is WiMax that gives you very high-speed data connectivity. All over the world, 300 deployments have happened and some of them are in India – known as fixed wireless network. There are issues that need to be resolved from a policy standpoint and we are certainly working with the government so that when these devices do hit the market, Indians can be part of this big wave. Connecting a few million people is not enough for a country of our size. Therefore, we have set a goal for ourselves and will continue to work with the government to actually make that happen.”
Giving a presentation through videoconferencing from Mumbai, Yugal Sharma, Regional Director (India and South Asia), Polycom India Pvt. Ltd., said, “Applications of video can basically be used for education for all, tele-justice, healthcare, connecting geographically dispersed government departments and various civil bodies.”
Healthcare is in the worst state in our country. 53 per cent of the children under 5 years have virtually no healthcare facility. As per the studies in terms of IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) and MMR (Maternity Mortality Rate), India is even worse than Bangladesh. Another initiative, which is affecting our lives, is the environmental agenda: Global warming and greenhouse gases are the major causes for concern. Video and oice conferencing really helps in enhancing the green technology. It is exemplified in simple statistics. If one takes a flight from Los Angeles to New York, the ticket cost would be around US$550 which is approximately Rs.22,000 in Indian currency. Plus, there will be huge emission of toxic gas during the journey. On the one side, we are striving hard to recreate the greener planet or conserve greenery, on the other side we are creating pollution. If this can be addressed with solutions which are very cheap and curtail the need to travel also, it will then be a fantastic thing. Polycom videoconferencing solution makes the virtual communication appear real. At the same time, it saves travel expenses and does not emit toxic gases as well.
From the perspective of eGovernance, Polycom technologies have a lot to offer. We have enabled Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation for bridging the education divide. They have implemented videoconferencing for distance learning.
“Bridging Health Divide by telemedicine” is our next success story. The Apollo Hospital Group is using videoconferencing for telemedicine in India.
“Judicial Reforms through tele-justice” is a very nice reform that we have done. Through video sessions, remand sessions can take place for prisoners. Also, the famous Telgi trial happened on multi-point videoconferencing. Polycom was there to help the government. Now, we want to connect most of the jails with courts very soon. Similarly, videoconferencing is changing lives in enterprises as well in terms of their trainings, meetings and collaborations.
Speaking about their eGovernance initiatives, Satish Kushal, Country Manager –Government & Education, IBM India Pvt. Ltd.,–said, “A high sense of maturity in the government usage of ICT has happened. From the point of view of just a web access or seeking information, most of the governments are providing services by integrating with a number of inter- and intra-departments. However, the transition to the implementation of ICT is happening on a large scale as the demand is getting created in terms of meeting unplanned events and outages. For example, if there is a cyclone, how quickly can the government reach the last person who has been hit by the cyclone or if there is a catastrophe on a road, how quickly the government can change the service pattern and reach there. That is where on demand based service-oriented architecture (SOA) is being offered by IBM for years together.”
We have been offering state-of-the-art innovative solutions at the worldwide level. In the government space, be it in the area of customs, border security management, in the field of social justice or even reaching the agriculturist through their portals, IBM has been working closely with various departments to provide solutions. We have also worked some huge networks, which have enabled governments and citizens to do transactions as well as to seek valuable information. What we bring to the table when we work and partner with different governments is a brand name, which has been trusted over years because of its best global practices and a huge profile of solutions.
IBM’s policy is to work closely with the local players, mostly the ISVs and the solution architects. This has helped us to increase our reach, expand the reach of ICT to the grassroots level. We strongly believe in innovation. Therefore, we invest heavily in R&D activities. We also encourage innovations that local players can bring in partnership with IBM. With the help of many Indian players, we have been working very closely with the different governments and have achieved significant wins. In the Ministry of Environment and Forests, we have built a very powerful Tsunami-detection application along with TCS. Today, with this technology, we can predict the happening of a Tsunami within one microsecond almost about 5,000 kms away from the Indian shores. Likewise, with the Ministry of Company Affairs, we have implemented a certain technology, which enables any person or entrepreneur to register his company within three working days in India, which otherwise could easily have taken four months. We have worked closely with different players like Tulip, UTL, Spanco and many other players to build robust SWAN projects across the country.
Along with NIC, we have worked closely to build various applications, including the Government of India’s own portal called’www.india.gov.in. We have also worked closely with the states of Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to put an online bus reservation system. By using these applications, today we have over 20 lakh people doing online bookings on a daily basis. Some of the partners with whom we have worked very closely like NIC, CRIS, Igrandi, MBT, Educomp and ILFS. These are some of the leading players in the field of education in the country. We are working with many players in India to offer public safety and security intelligent transport system in the country. We are working very closely with different partners to build the state data centres, ePorts, eDistricts, etc.
NASSCOM reports that ICT market is almost about 8 billion dollars, out of which government and education sector is the highest spender. It is just a tip of the iceberg. There is a huge opportunity in the market. There is a vast population that needs to be addressed and all of us can really collaborate to make the national e-government plan and the different state governments’ IT plans a success. We strongly believe that in the years to come the world is getting more and more open to standard technologies that are based on SOA and innovative solutions and we would like to invite all of you to work closely with us so that we can find the most cost-effective solutions so that there is a real transformation at the grassroots level through ICT.
Alok Bhardwaj, Sr. Vice-President, Canon India Pvt. Ltd., said, “Billions of bytes of information in India reside on paper. And digitization is the mantra to the success of eGovernance. We face a lot of challenges while capturing, using and securing those data.
The first step is that there are hard copies in offices all over the country and as the digitization will take place, the office copies have to move on to the hard disk in the realm of e-governance.”
The second step is document management solutions. Increasingly, in India, we are noticing that hard copies are important element in any work and, therefore, how can that information become a part of the electronic workflow along with security on top of it. So, there is a requirement for strong document management solution.
The third step is the print services at the government centres, which are now coming up in the country. Canon provides a device management solution so that governments will integrate and therefore device management becomes a big essential component.
In India, the transition in the document management area has happened in the private sector from analogue printing to document management solutions. When it comes to government projects, we need to look at all the steps stated above.
The products that Canon sees getting into the hands of people around the country as part of e-Governance initiative are fax machines, laser MFDs, multifunctional document scanners, large format printers, copiers and even cameras. We have already begun to start participating in this in all the states and in terms of our leadership we have been able to become No.1 or No.2 in the government sector.
Vineet Sood, Head of Strategic Relations, Symantec Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd., said, “Today, we live in a connected world. It is basically changing the way we work, the way we play and the way we live our lives. Any ordinary citizen is going online for all sorts of activities like booking a movie ticket or a railway ticket. We can also pay our taxes online. The organizations are changing themselves. They want to reach more and more customers. They are developing new business models by which they are able to create more business for themselves.”
People are demanding from their governments better services and that is leading governments to now focus on e-government initiatives. This e-governance initiative will result in faster delivery of services to people, cost savings for the governments, better efficiency for each and everyone involved. The e-governance will require the applications be made in such a manner that they should be able to cater to thousands of people to begin with and then scale up to a million people and then scale up to a billion people.
You can imagine the amount of scalability that it would require in terms of IT infrastructure. Right from the point of view of systems which are being deployed, the information, which is being generated and security of information are the real challenges. Symantec as an organization specializes in two different areas of information technology: We provide security for all online transactions – whether it is a consumer or an enterprise or even a government institute. Similarly, with vast amount of information, which should be generated by billions of users of e-governance initiative, there would be a whole lot of storage which is required, storage which can be managed properly because it should not be exponentially increasing. So, that is the area where our organization can participate with the government and support the efforts of e-governance for betterment of the entire society.
The event had also showcased the felicitation ceremony of the top ten corporates, including Intel Technologies, HP India, UTStarcom, Samsung India, Cisco Systems as the Most-Trusted Companies and LG Electronics, Microsoft Corporation, IBM India, Avaya GlobalConnect and Polycom as Brands of Excellence.
Finally, the event ended with a panel discussion on “Business Profitability through Correct Governance” and the panellists were Shri Sivakumar Ramamurthy, Managing Director, Intel (South Asia) India Pvt. Ltd.; Dr. C. Murlikrishna Kumar, Adviser (Communication & Information Division), Planning Commission; Shri J.P.S. Chawla, Chief Controller of Accounts, Ministry of Urban Development; Shri Siddharth, IAS, Secretary (IT), Kolkata; Shri R. Karuppiah, IIS, Director – QA, DGS&D; Shri Satish Kushal, Country Manager – Government & Education, IBM India Pvt. Ltd.; Ms Sujaya Krishnan, Director, Ministry of Urban Development; Shri Alok Chaturvedi, C.M. (UTS), CRIS; Shri Vineet Sood, Head of Strategic Relations, Symantec Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd.; Shri Ravi Pani, CFO, Expert – Finance, Real Estate & Insurance; and Shri Himanshu Sahu, Assistant Director – Business Development, UTStarcom India Telecom Pvt. Ltd. And, it was moderated by Shri Debasish Choudhury, CTO & Customer Solutions, Telinovation India.
In the panel discussion, Alok Chaturvedi, C.M. (UTS), CRIS, hailing the impact of e-governance, said, “As far as the Indian Railways is concerned, e-governance has helped the department a lot. It has brought about a win-win situation for both the passengers and the railways. The financial position of the Railways is improving every year as a result of e-governance. The passengers are able to book tickets without actually going to the counters and now CRIS is coming up with ticketing facility through SMS service by using a mobile phone. We are trying to see that the passenger’s time is not wasted by standing in the queue and also ensure that the passengers who are buying tickets, they only are travelling. So, while implementing any project, you should not look at profit of one.”
Satish Kaushal, Country Manager – Government and Education, IBM India Pvt. Ltd., said, “ICT plays 10-15 per cent role in any project and the rest is the management’s role. In any project, if ICT’s role is 85-90 per cent, the projects have not succeeded beyond a pilot stage. The reason is that the champions who triggered the project perhaps could not take most of the people along with them after a few months or a few years. Yes, e-governance is important, but at the same time correct governance and right execution of the project is most important. Capacity building is very important for any e-governance plan to be successful, which means almost transformation and training of all the people who are going to implement the project. Quick decisions on standards have to be adopted in building applications.”
R. Sivakumar, Managing Director, Intel (South Asia) Pvt. Ltd., said, “We should not underestimate the power of market forces. Today, most of the people are aware of the situation of connectivity in the country, but that is not stopping Indians from getting on the Internet. Close-to 50 million people are already on the Internet and probably very quickly India will be the second-largest user of Internet in a matter of a few years. But it is coming at the cost of haphazard infrastructure development; inefficiencies come where we have the most expensive per megabit network in the world. The first maturity of any nation comes when we stand up and admit that yes there is a problem. For too long, we have been able to cover up all of this in English where we say things, which are actually not on the ground. Success comes when we actually put infrastructure in place, and I am sure in the coming years we will be able to do that.”
Siddharth, IAS, Secretary (IT), Government of West Bengal, said, “Of course, there are states that have done very well in terms of e-governance, but in our own way, what we find more relevant to Bengal, we are trying to do that successfully. For example, the CSC model is a successful one. If any company wants to run them with the help of local self-help groups in any other state, it can be a great success also.”
J.P.S. Chawla, Chief Controller of Accounts, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, said, “Connectivity is very important for all organizations. For example, Central Public Works Department (CPWD) spread all over India has 350 divisions. But broadband is not available at all levels. This is a big pain in the neck for the Department. We need to bring about interconnectivity between the divisions, which will bring transparency in our system. From the Ministry of Urban Development’s point of view, we are introducing e-tendering, e-payments very soon which will be followed by online accounting.”
Ms Sujaya Krishnan, Director, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, said, “The role of e-Governance is to address the issues at the grassroots level where you can render services to the people like birth certificates, death certificates, income tax returns, etc. And, it has started happening in the country. Not only in the capital cities alone, the e-govenance effect is also happening in the smaller towns. One of our mandates is to take it forward to various smaller cities.”
Vineet Sood, Head of Strategic Relations, Symantec Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd., said, “What we need in the country are some projects, which are visible to the entire population and bring out benefits of e-governance for the ordinary citizens, business, curtailing corruption, increasing transparency, e-procurement, etc. and automating manual process. In the taxation departments, where people don’t have the option of paying taxes online, which otherwise would have helped citizens save a lot of time by just doing it online and the government could have collected more taxes. So, if we have bigger projects, we could replicate it somewhere else.”
Himanshu Sahu, Assistant Director – Business Development , UTStarcom India Telecom Pvt. Ltd., emphasized the need for uninterrupted connectivity and flow of information to make the system transparent.
Ravi Pani, CFO, Experts – Finance, Realestate & Insurance, desired that there should be a regulatory authority to monitor information in the real estate sector. Information, which the customers require in this sector, is about land records and e-governance can definitely contribute a lot.
Dr. C. Murlikrishna Kumar, Adviser (Communication & Information Division), Planning Commission, said, “Paradigm shift going from governance to e-governance is itself a unique shift. The most important point is re-engineering your processes and secondly ownership. You need to have champions to drive the initiative. One of the most important objectives of putting e-governance in place is to see that we achieve paperless office.”
R. Karuppiah, IIS, Director – QA, DGS&D, said, “The whole concept of e-governance comes with re-engineering and aligning their processes and what is really going to serve the people which the top management should take up. We should also try to change and catch up with the world now.”
At the beginning of the event, Mr. Deepak Sahu, President, VARIndia and Director, Kalinga Digital Media Pvt. Ltd., welcomed the guests. The event was organized in association with states like Orissa, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab Infotech and the corporates which partnered were Intel, IBM, SAP, Polycom, TVS-E, ZyXEL and Canon and Symantec. This was also an occasion to showcase the products of the vendors like Intel, IBM, Polycom, ZyXEL and Canon.
While concluding, Mr. Sanjeev Mahapatra, Publisher, VARIndia, gave a vote of thanks to Shri Chandrasekhar Sahu, Minister of State for Rural Development, Government of India.