For almost a decade, a lot of noise was being made in government circles about e-governance and paperless offices. Grand plans were made and crores of rupees were spent. One can only guess what happened to those plans.
But the infamous inferno on June 21, which reduced four floors of Mantralaya to ashes, actually did offer a snapshot of the government’s progress in e-governance. Our ministers and bureaucrats are lamenting the loss of documents and records in the fire. But if anyone is to be blamed, it is them.
For years, the plan to move towards e-governance was moving at a snail’s pace. True to government tradition, some turned this plan into a money-making venture. Among other things, one saw computer hardware made by unknown companies in some administrative offices. It would be interesting to see how many purchases were made in the name of e-governance and how much of this was useful.
When it comes to our ministers’ computer literacy, the less said the better. Many ministers put computers on their tables as decorative pieces rather than using them. Apart from chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, barely anybody in his council is comfortable working on a laptop or tablet.
Following the fire, Chavan has vowed to take up the digitisation of government records and move towards a paperless office on a priority basis. One hopes his mantris and babus will take this seriously at least now.
Somaiya and the sena
Has Kirit Somaiya bitten off more than he can chew? The BJP leader, who has demanded a probe into 79 companies, many of which have water resources minister Sunil Tatkare’s kin and friends as directors, is now trying to control the damage when it came to light that two of the companies have directors from the Shiv Sena’s first family, the Thackerays.
Somaiya is insisting that he had no knowledge about the two companies and has alleged that there is a conspiracy to divert attention from the real issue. Furious Shiv Sena leaders are wondering why Somaiya, a chartered account by profession who has a doctorate on capital markets and small investors, included the two companies in his list without checking with their directors whether they were involved in any dubious activities.
Was he careless or did he deliberately do it to corner their party? The list, after all, has come after the Sena embarrassed the BJP by supporting the Congress nominee, Pranab Mukherjee, for the president’s post.