VARIndia IT Forum 2006
Vendors and governments in India are underscoring the need of rural computing that will allow the vast majority of populace to avail of the benefits of IT, saying rural India offers great opportunities for the vendors as well as scope of employment generation. Kalinga Digital Media Private Ltd. organized VARIndia Infotech Forum 2006 on 5th May, 2006 at Hotel Le Meridien in New Delhi. This forum is an open platform to discuss various IT-related issues, including taxation, policy matters, industry trends and new evolving markets, investment opportunities, etc. The spokespersons of the major IT vendors like Microsoft, HP, Samsung, Select Technology, NetApp,TVS-E and Intel spelt out the advantages of their technologies to introduce rural computing in India. Apart from the vendors, the states of Orissa and Uttaranchal also showcased the opportunities these states provided in the rural computing space. The conference, which attracted a galaxy of speakers and industry leaders, got under way with the lighting of the ceremonial lamp by the Chief Guest, Shri Chandra Sekhar Sahu, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Government of India. It was followed by a welcome address by Surjya Narayan Patro, Minster of Energy, IT & Tourism, Government of Orissa, who showcased the rise of the State as an important destination on the Indian IT firmament. Speaking on this occasion, he said, "Today, IT is a subject on which every state is keen to discuss and at the same time it holds an immense opportunity in the employment space. It gives me immense happiness that VARIndia, a frontline IT magazine, is organizing the event for the fourth consecutive term." Speaking on the new initiatives taken by the Central Government, he said that the Government of India has introduced a new system known as the Common Service Centres. The Central Government had decided that it would establish one Common Service Centre in each and every Panchayat of the villages. Today, Orissa has more than 5,000 Panchayats. The Government of Orissa was planning to set up more than 5,000 Common Service Centres in the State. He further added that the Orissa Government was willing to extend financial assistance for investing in the State. Speaking on this momentous occasion, Shri Chandra Sekhar Sahu said, "The Common Minimum Programme of the UPA Government has highlighted the need of reforming the public administration system so that we can drastically reduce the delay of the public service. The need of the hour is that the concrete Public and Private Partnership should be established, which can further accelerate our effort in achieving our aim." He added, "The department of provident fund in the Ministry of Labour and Employment has embarked upon an ambitious modernization project reinventing itself and is working on computers for accounts and delivery system which will reduce the process time and man-made errors and provide access pertaining to the provident fund accumulation to the millions to the people who can access information from any part of the country. Similarly, the Director General of Employment and Training has embarked upon an ambitious plan to achieve widespread applications of IT in all possible areas of employment, service and vocational training. There is also need of skill up-gradation of the existing workers to make them computer friendly. There is also need of changing the mind set of the employers. The application of IT in employment market is not a threat to employment rather it has enlarged the existing market and changed its nature." Shri Sanjeev Chopra, IT Secretary to the Government of Uttaranchal, made a vigorous presentation about the opportunities and the giant strides made by the State at a breakneck speed in the recent past. He said that the Uttaranchal Government was committed to providing all sorts of infrastructure facilities to the investors. Sanjeev Chopra further added that the success of rural computing is possible on large scale only when there is setting of self sustained model. Today, there is no government incentives involved in setting up community service centers. Uttranchal government has incorporated this model into the 'Pradhan Mantri Yojgar Yojna', which is financed under current village industry board. The success of sorts of programs related to rural computing can be only be a reality if the government lays its hands off.
He further said, "The government of Uttaranchal has signed MOU for Kishan Suchana Kendra just four months back but today there are 190 of them running in profit to the extent of Rs.1300-Rs.1400 per month. In order to make the rural computing successful and make money out of it, there has to be very many things ready i.e. backward integration of processes, contents, portal etc. Apart from that the Suchna Kendras or the kiosk should be multifunctional." During a panel discussion on rural computing, the IT Secretaries and the representatives of various states, including Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa as well as the representatives of the Indian Government talked about the challenges and opportunities offered by rural India to the IT industry and how IT could be helpful in the empowerment of citizens. The members of the panel were Shri Syedain Abbasi, Director, DIT, Government of India; Shri Sanjeev Chopra, Secretary - IT, Government of Uttaranchal; Shri S. N. Zindal, Director General, STPI; Shri Sam Chopra, President, Call Centres' Association of India; Shri Padamvir Singh, Principal Secretary - IT, Government of Madhya Pradesh; Dr. N. Vijayaditya, Director General, NIC; Shri A. K. Panda, Head, IT Promotion Cell, Government of Orissa; Dr. Srinivasan Ramani, HP Labs India; and Dr. Harish Kumar, Project Coordinator, Government of Uttaranchal. The panel discussion was moderated by Shri Vinnie Mehta, Executive Director, MAIT. Speaking during the Panel discussions, Dr. Harish Kumar, Project Coordinator, Government of Uttaranchal, opined that the health sector in Uttaranchal should be taken up first in the rural areas. Shri A K. Panda, Head, IT Promotion Cell, Government of Orissa, said that for making rural computing more successful, it was necessary that the issues like networking, language barriers, etc. should be sorted out.
He further added that there is need of creating awareness among the common people about how the common service centre is going to affect the livelihood of the common villager. Shri S. N. Zindal, Director General, STPI, said that the Sate Government as well as the Central Government should focus more on child education than adult education in the rural areas. N. Vijayaditya, Director General, NIC said, "Today, the most important thing is to create unique tools to leverage the benefits of IT in the rural India and apart from that, there is a need to create an infrastructure so that products produced by the people should be made accessible to the global market with the help of ICT." Shri. Syedain Abbasi, Director, DIT, Government of India, said that the common service certain initiatives taken by the Government of India is going to play a key role in penetration of IT in rural India. Shri. Padamvir Singh, Principal Secretary IT, Government of Madhya Pradesh emphasized on various challenges in the rural computing, which needs to be addressed and at the same time improvement in quality of services should be equally focused.
While participating in the panel discussion, Dr. Srinivasan Ramani, HP Labs India, emphasized on the improvement of the delivery-end of the e-Governance services. He said that Kiosks in remote areas are very good thing but its job apart from other services should also be delivering government documents in a reliable way. He said that digital document and paper document are complementary to each other because only paperless concept can not help check the rise of the frauds. Therefore, 2D barcode can help the documents convert from one format to other (digital to paper or vice versa) with digital signature possible. Meanwhile, the Forum also played host to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the Uttaranchal Government with Wipro Technologies for an effective implementation of e-governance in the State.
For the last four years, VARIndia IT Forum has been an open forum to bring the industry experts, bureaucrats, technocrats, leaders and thinkers to a single platform to discuss the broad contours of how to make Information Technology as an effective tool to influence the overall life of the common people by bridging the digital divide between the haves and the have-nots in India.