Attempts should be made to bring those outside the digital divide into the e-governance fold and take the benefits of information technology (IT) to common man in rural areas. Second, local language, especially Hindi, should be promoted as an ideal medium of e-communication in Madhya Pradesh.
These two major ideas, among others, emerged on Saturday, the concluding day of the national conference on e-governance.
Addressing the concluding session, State IT Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya urged IT professionals to interact with the people living in villages in local language. “The professionals need to establish a rapport with rural people and that could be possible when Hindi is the communication medium,” he pointed out.
“If we could make IT reach out to 100 crore people, India could emerge a superpower and it is possible through IT experts,” he said, calling the IT professionals as ‘e-pundits’. Expressing concern over the lucrative offers made by IT companies to the experts working in the government sector, Vijayvargiya said serious thinking is needed as to how they could be retained. He even suggested that a cadre, similar to the IAS and the IPS, be formed for the IT officials in the government.
In his welcome address, additional secretary, Union IT department, R Chandrashekar said the turnout at the conference – 1,300 participants in two days – proved that awareness on IT has increased and Madhya Pradesh is part of this process. “It shows serious efforts are being made in the State in the IT sector,” he added.
In a power-point presentation, additional secretary (AR& PG), Union Government, Rahul Sarin highlighted the main observations during the two-day meet. “From the yesterday’s speech of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, a lesson could be drawn that e-democracy is a must for e-governance,” said Sarin. Both Chandreshekhar and Sarin maintained that serious thinking needs to be done for setting up of premier IT institutions.
The plenary session of the day broadly focused on two themes – accelerating transformation – community participation in e-governance and integrated rural service delivery. Describing information communication technology (ICT) as a mechanism of governance, agriculture secretary Pravesh Sharma said it should be seen whether “we are equipped with capacity and ready to link the ongoing social mobilisation.” “A large number of IT initiatives have been taken in the country, which exist in small pockets, but not a single one could be scaled at a large level,” he pointed out. The thrust should be on translation of ICT aspiration to ICT-based transformation in rural areas, he said.
Chairing the panel, former chief secretary Nirmala Buch said interaction should not only be with the government, but also among groups engaged in the process.
During the discussion, Anwar Jafri, representing an NGO, said right kind of information is not available to citizens. “One fails to know the right status of a project, causes of its failure or utilisation of government funds, which are kept away from common man’s reach due to existing nexuses,” he said, adding that transparency plays a key role in e-governance.
Emphasising use of easily available common tools of communication like radio, television and mobile phones, chairman of Manthan Award, Osama Manzar said the focus should be on dissemination of information.
“Community radio is a fine example and we shouldn’t try to depend much on hi-tech media.”
“Best is the oral medium, which should be used at large to make ICT reach at grass-root level,” he suggested.
Presenting a success model used in West Bengal at block levels in communication, Chief Executive Officer of GRASSO Shantanu Sengupta said service delivery model should be such that one need not to be educated to understand the services available.
“Capacity-building is the most important aspect,” he added. IT principal secretary Padamveer Singh summed up IT initiatives taken up by the state government.