Bihar etched its name strongly on the governance map of the country, when it was announced that it had been held up as a model for rest of the country in e-governance.
The Union Ministry of Personnel (Administrative Reforms) announced on Wednesday that the state had won the e-governance gold medal for its project called 'Jankari' call centre. The call centres are an easy access complaint cells opened by the state under the Right to Information (RTI).
"The award acknowledges the outstanding performance of the State Government in citizen-centric service delivery achieved through the facility provided to the people of Bihar," said Personnel Secretary Amir Subhani in Patna on Thursday. The award will be conferred at the national e-governance conference at Goa on February 12.
He said that before announcing the award, the Administrative Reforms Department adopted a long and arduous process of selection. On the basis of the nominations received from the states, the department scrutinised the cases and short-listed the nominees.
Finally, an august jury selected nominees who were asked to give their presentations. On behalf of the State, Subhani made the presentation at New Delhi on January 19.
A brainchild of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the 'Jankari' call centre enables the people, living in the remotest areas of the State, to apply for information under the RTI Act through a phone call.
The operators at the centre process the calls and forward the drafts to the departments concerned for providing the requisite information to applicants. In case the applicants do not receive the information, they can make the first and the second appeal through the same method.
The personnel secretary said that during the two years if its existence, the call centre received 22,600 calls, of which 7070 have been made to submit applications, 3016 calls for filing the first appeal and 1400 calls for filing the second appeal before the State Information Commission.
Run by the Bihar State Electronics Development Corporation (BELTRON) under the department of information technology, the 'Jankari' model is simple and universally accessible. "It does not require any user training and no additional infrastructure is needed to implement the project," said science and technology secretary C K Mishra.
· The facility is simple and universally accessible.
· No need to travel to Government offices for applying.
· It overcomes the bias and hostility in Government offices towards RTI users
· Affordable fee: Rs 10 for original applications/appeals
· Legal issues relating to RTI fully taken care of
· Poor and physically handicapped people can use the facility
· Semi-literate and illiterate people can easily apply for information through the system.
'Bihar role model for other states'
Reacting to the announcement of the award, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said Bihar had emerged as a role model for other states. "Despite the fact that several leading organisations in the country praised the State, several central leaders have never been sparing in their criticism," he said, adding, "This is an apt reply to them."