eGovernance in India

Improving eGovernance in INDIA

Letter to Mr. Sam Pitroda, Chairman of NKC

Posted by egovindia on May 28, 2006

Umashankar writes……

23rd Dec.2005

Dear Mr.Sam Pitroda,

Mr. Kumaraswamy, the founder-moderator of egovINDIA has been on my trail to write to you on e-governance plans in India.


Yes, you are one of the few leaders in the country who can bring about change in e-governance plans. The need of the hour is to make e-governance work for the common man, through the very same government / local body employees. Process automation based e-governance is the only route that can empower a nation in the long run. This had not been recognised by the bureaucrats who lead the movement at this moment. We seek your intervention to do a complete course correction.

I have written a 14 page long write up detailing my views on Indian e-governance scenario. Kindly go through the same and decide about your intervention.

I would like to meet you to discuss about these issues.

Please let me know your convenient time and venue so that I can come to your place and discuss the action plan.

Regards.

Umashankar

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21-3-06

Thanks Col.Sudhakar for the good words.

The copy of the write up had been sent to Mr.Kumarawamy who in his wisdom had published it.

I am sure he means good for me and India.

I have not recieved any reply from Mr.Sam or anyone from the Knowledge Commission. I fogot about the write up.

Now Mr.Kumaraswamy had opened it up.

In fact I was persuaded and followed up by Mr.Kumaraswamy to make this write up. But for his continuous follow up I would not have written to Mr.Sam.

I hope Mr.Sam Pitroda takes time to read this write up and use the views expressed there for the betterment of the country.
The notable thing is the need for common man orientation in all high tech matters.

Regards.

Umashankar

044-42054443

9444382827

 

C.Umashankar IAS., (TamilNadu Cadre)
e-governance expert.

Moderator:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eGovINDIA
http://sugame.com/umashankar

Chennai:
Ph: 91-44-52054443
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22nd December, 2005

Chennai

India

 

Dear Shri.Sam Pitroda,

Greetings.

I am knocking at your doors advocating right policies for e-governance and a total pro common man orientation while implementing e-governance solutions It is only the common man who needs good governance more than the rich and the affluent and so it is vital that e-governance should focus more on empowerment of the common man.

Advocacy is an inherent part of evolution. Without advocacy a country would be devoid of vision and development. As a visionary who foresaw the future of India's telecom scenario during late Rajiv Gandhi's period you would understand the term 'advocacy' much better.

Before I get into the details of my brief advocacy herewith, let me introduce me in a few words.

I am C.Umashankar, an IAS officer of 1990 batch allotted to TamilNadu cadre. I belong to TamilNadu too. I took up the civil services to serve the common man. I have not lost focus of the goal till date. I have a passion to see a developed India which is rid of corruption and red tapism. My passion for transparency and integrity had landed me in various postings at a young age. One year in any assignment at the early period of my IAS was a rare feet. At every stage, the goal to serve the common man with honesty and integrity was thwarted by these transfers. This had forced me to blow the whistle during November 1995 when I knocked at the doors of the higher judiciary seeking justice to serve the common man. More details are available in http://www.sugame.com/umashankar under the title “Cremation sheds scam”.


 

In this scenario, the orientation given in the Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy, Mussoorie on computer tools enabled me to understand the power of computers in realising the goal of a transparent and developed India. Right from the day I got access to computers in Government I started using its powers for serving the common man. It started in Tiruchirapalli during middle of 1994 when I got the first dumb terminal from NIC's network. We used it to weed out bogus family cards and to issue family cards to the deserving population. The passion continued in Madurai where I was posted as Additional Collector (Development) and Project Officer, District Rural Development Agency (DRDA). Here the PC 486 server with 10 diskless nodes were used to offer the best possible online-across the counter service to the people below the poverty line. This trend was continued when I took over as District Collector of Tiruvarur which is one of the most backward districts of TamilNadu. This backward district, soon was rated “20 years ahead” by the Times of India, Delhi for its breath taking core e-governance activities. It happened between February 1999 and April 2001. Tiruvarur district was declared the first Pilot e-district in India during July 1999. With land records going online, the farmers of this Cauvery delta district had a shot in the arm. Getting agriculture loans using land records extract became easy as the certificates were made available for Rs.10 and 20 respectively. Transfer of land registry became a 10 minute affair. Getting Old Age Pension or Widow pension became a pleasant experience for the poor people. People started respecting the Revenue department for its social service using e-governance tools. Old Age Pension started reaching the beneficiaries within the first five days of the month. Evidences show that the very same district used to despatch this money a good one month later. Schemes such as Accident Relief Scheme and Distress Relief Scheme which were meant only for the people below the poverty line went totally online within a short period during 1999.

The DRDA and its direct executing arms, the Block Offices were provided with a series of automation packages which took away their manual workload. Manually written paper based registers were done away with in all these cases and were substituted with system generated registers. The government employees became the first beneficiary as their work load came down by 50-75 percent. From pendency in government offices, it became a case of nil pendency. Even during the year 2000 the district administration had to alert the field offices to keep at least a few transactions pending so that the visiting delegation could be shown the online functioning. Any surprise inspections usually resulted in Nil pending work. E-governance was simply a boon to this predominantly agrarian district.

The first e-district did another breath taking exercise by taking the online offices to the street through a campaign titled “Power of e-governance”. The online Taluk office functioning was shifted to a public place such a marriage hall on the campaign day and citizens were encouraged to file their application and get the orders within just two hours. Eight such camps were conducted in the 7 Taluk office areas. In each camp, the Taluks could transact work equivalent to 6 months' transactions. One has to see the joy of the poor people who walked in and walked out with OAP/Widow pension/Physically Challenged Person pension/ distressed Agriculture Labourer Pension and so on.

Sadly, the story had ended with Tiruvarur. Elsewhere in the world, such as the 'world' where you are living now, this would have been taken up for replication for the rest of the country. But this does not happen easily in India. India, supported by my colleagues in the IAS had decided to keep Tiruvarur alone “20 years ahead” for a long time to come.

Today, four years after I had left the district, the very same district has been losing its e-governance tools, one by one, not because the users don't want it but because of lack of technical support for maintenance and upgrades of the application software and the hardware. When a client machine goes down, it remains down forever! With so much of money in the hands of the policy makers in India for e-governance, one finds such a sorry state of affairs in the country's first e-district.

In the last four years, I have made presentation about Tiruvarur district's e-governance experience in various fora, including the Government of India's e-governance centre in Delhi, IIM, Bangalore and the Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy at Mussoorie. In the presence of India's e-governance policy makers, many live software presentations were held by me in the last four years. Notable among them was the presentation at the Centre for e-governance in Delhi (2001), NISG (2004) and the National e-governance conference at Bhubaneswar (February, 2005). Video magazines depicting the power of e-governance in the implementation of Tiruvarur e-governance had not made much impact with the leaders, though the audience clearly saw the true impact of e-governance with regard to the common man. When the leaders who are supposed to make the necessary moves fail to act, Indian evolution comes to a halt in such areas.

The policy makers, however, are busy looking at commercial proposals put up by multi national corporations who had no idea about Indian governance scenario. Knowledge about Indian governance system and India's rural life style is too crucial to be missed out.

I have stopped making live software presentation cum talk on e-governance in view of the dumb response it had received so far.

I have decided to knock at your doors to highlight this malady apart from sharing my thoughts on open source software in Indian e-governance scenario. As Chairman of the recently set up Knowledge Commission, you have the powers to change the scenario in India, the way you had changed the telecom sector in India years ago.

Having said these I wish to advocate two areas in the following paragraphs:

  1. What is the true meaning of e-governance in Indian context? How India should proceed to become a self confident e-governed nation? And,
  2. How open source software and Indian e-governance are made for each other in creating a self confident and self respecting nation.

What is e-governance?

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that empowers the Government, its citizens including the Government employees, weaker sections such as the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, women, people living in far flung and difficult areas and the business houses to transact businesses with government and its agencies online, 24/7 "

Under e-governance scenario, the Government and its citizens/business houses should be able to transact all their activities or at least majority of activities without meeting each other using Information technology tools such as Internet, public kiosks etc.

For example, when a citizen wants to get a ration card, he/she should be able to apply and get the ration card without physically going to the Taluka office. Similarly, when a widow wants to get a widow pension she should be able to get it by applying through the village or block level Internet centre.

Or, a farmer wanting to get a land record extract / cultivation extract should be able to do it without going to any government official through the Internet or public kiosks.

Going to the Government offices and waiting there to get these services should be only an optional choice. The citizens should have a choice of going to the Internet centres or the government offices to get their works done with the Government.

This can be achieved only through the following steps:

1. Government offices should be computerised using online work-flow procedure. That means all the paper based registers have to be given up and all government works have to be carried out only through computers. At least this should happen in areas where e-governance had been introduced.

2. All Government employees working in the areas where e-governance is proposed have to be computer trained and each one should be given user ID and password to operate the system.

3. All these government employees have to be trained in their area of operation in the software.

4. The Government servers should be connected to the Internet/public network so that the citizens and business houses are enabled to access the Government information at any time and also enabled to file all their requests/applications online. The scope for meeting government officials should be reduced to the extent that only where statutorily such physical presence is required they should be asked to meet the government officials.

5. All applications or requests from citizens/business houses should be received only through online procedure using Internet/public access network as medium.

6. STD booths or similar public kiosks should be authorised to intermediate between the citizens and the government. This includes online remittance facility too.

7. India's growing women power in the form of Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) should have a greater say in front ending the Government services online.

 

A similar facility should be made available to the business houses too.

The above definition pre supposes certain vital IT infrastructure such as State wide area network (WAN), a clear policy for e-governance with timelines, recognition of the role of e-champions from within the bureaucracy, budgetary support for infrastructure creation and maintenance and so on.

Open source software and e-governance.

India has entered into the e-governance bandwagon late. The late comer has an advantage too in the IT field as the open source software had matured now. OSS offers not just the operating system but the whole gamut of IT environment, mostly free. This includes top end GIS software (open GIS) and a top database product such as Postgresql. India, in order to remain free and confident, should adopt open source software in the area of e-governance and education. The developed nations have been consciously promoting OSS in their countries. It is time India started this movement. Who else can be a better person than you in spearheading this movement?

The current Indian e-governance scenario – Is India proceeding in the right direction?

During Tiruvarur's hay days (1999-2001), funds were a constraint as e-governance was a new area at that time. Funding agencies such as World Bank, UNDP, DFID etc., were unaware of the initiatives at the field level. Today, the case is different. India is flushed with e-governance funds.

Let us audit how this “problem of plenty” is being handled by my colleagues who are at the helm of affairs deciding the destiny of this nation in Delhi.

The commitment for funding e-governance initiatives of India from leading providers such as World bank, UNDP, DFID etc., as on date is a whooping Rs.25000 crores.

The positive factors:

Funding for State Wide Area Networking

The young IT Minister Dayanadhi Maran had made a huge difference in the area of communication in India. He had announced a policy to encourage setting up of State Wide Area Networking all over the country. Any State which has three or more state level projects would be eligible to get funding under the scheme. This is the right way of prioritising the spending. States which had no inclination towards good governance would not see value in a state WAN and thus even if they are offered this vital infrastructure free of cost, the same would only rust away. Hence the policy to encourage the enthusiastic states which have understood the value of state WAN is perfectly in order.

Over the past 5 years, the momentum had gradually picked up among the States in the area of e-governance. States such as Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttranchal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala have been taking active interest. A good State WAN driven e-governance would set examples to the States which had hitherto cold shouldered e-governance / good governance. One has to see whether these fore runner States would act as torch bearers. It is also extremely important for Dayanadhi Maran to persuade the states to set up the state WAN without losing any further time.

You have a great role in this regard. The way in which you had brought STD booths to the nook and corner of the country and making them self sustaining is a case in point. Your own state Orissa has been showered with V-SATs to connect all the Blocks and the Collectorates. Yet e-governance is a far cry there. You have the fire power to motivate the backward states such as Orissa, Bihar, UP, MP and Rajasthan to take up e-governance to achieve good governance. The country is badly in need of a leader who can focus on true e-governance which has the power to usher in good governance, especially in the BIMAR states. The teaming millions of the rural Indian population had been left totally untouched by the e-governance initiatives so far. This segment of rural population can actually taste good governance if e-governance is offered to them. You can make a huge difference here through your capable leadership.

Your intervention would be a shot in the arm for Dayanidhi Maran whose crusade has been lonely so far. 

BSNL's broad band revolution

India has been witnessing yet another communication revolution after the Telecom and mobile phone revolution in the form of broad band revolution. Dayanidhi Maran work up BSNL from its slumber. It was the public sector BSNL which had brought about a qualitative change in the dial up internet arena during the year 2000. On 15th August 2000, all the BSNL subscribers started getting internet on local call. The urban elites were getting this facility even earlier. But the decision to bring in dial up internet on local call rates all over India was considered a revolutionary concept at that time. Indeed it was revolutionary. It brought about equality among the rural and urban masses all over India. During my stay in Tezpur (Assam), Sabarkanta (Gujaraj), Rajgarh (MP) and East Champaran (Bihar) in the last four years I found that this local internet dial up had indeed provided a darling equality for all citizens in India. This was indeed a path breaking and forward looking decision indeed.

      Yet, the optic fibre lines which were laid by BSNL at crores of rupees of tax payers' money was lying unlit all over India. Nor BSNL was ready to offer these unlit OFC lines to government or private sector for useful exploitation. When I served in Tiruvarur as its DC (1999-2001) the Coaxial Station of BSNL situated across the Collectorate had over 10 OFC pairs were lying idle for future expansion. Hardly a couple of pairs were utilised by BSNL at that time. The irony was that every Block was connected through the BSNL's OFC line at Tiruvarur. This could be the same all over India. There was no policy to offer these lines to Government offices on concessional rates. The scenario had changed in the recent past. Now BSNL has been vigorously advancing the broadband concept all over India. The unlit OFC lines are gradually getting lit. BSNL had brought the cost of the broad band to 1/4th of the rates which were prevalent prior to its entry.

Yet, there needs to be a minor course correction. Just like the private operators, BSNL has also been concentrating on urban sector where there are more than one private operator vying with one another offering broadband services. What India needs at the moment is to provide the same priority treatment to the rural and semi urban areas as well, the way the dial up internet was offered on local call rates all over India on 15th August 2000!

Majority of the Government offices and installations are located only in the rural and semi urban areas. For example, the Primary Health Centres, the Taluka offices, the Block offices , Government and private schools and so on. With broadband available at just Rs.250 per month, these government offices and schools can easily afford to acquire this state of the art technology which in turn can bring about a total revolution in the area of e-governance. The schools would be able to use the knowledge that is opened up through the internet. An immediate course correction in this regard is in order.

The second course correction that is required is to provide these lines to all vital State government installations in the rural and semi urban areas such as Collectorates, Taluk offices, Police stations, Government hospitals, Block offices etc., without waiting for an application from the States. This could be done under a national policy where the BSNL should be compensated by the government of India for the one time installation and for the running cost for 5 years. This would connect the entire India's vital installations within a short span of time and act as a prelude to the State WANs. An outgo of Rs.250 per month/ per installation is not too great a cost for the Government of India to bear. This would be one of the most beneficial investments of the National e-gov Action Plan funds.

Corruption in the area of networking

I need your intervention to save the nation at this juncture from being sold to an outdated networking technology. In the name of domestic technology a firm owned by an IIT professor has been selling a grossly outdated wireless technology to Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) using patronage received from Governments. This technology had not scaled up from its original 32 kbps speed for the past 10 years, despite their promise to enhance its bandwidth to 2 mbps during 1996! The world had already moved ahead and today we have 802.11 b/g – 2.4 ghz. based wireless solutions offering bandwidth in megabytes. There is an imminent danger that this outdated wireless technology could be pushed through in the name of connecting the Village Knowledge Centres (VKCs). The person who promotes this outdated technology tried to influence my colleague when we were drafting our evaluation report on this technology for European Commission. We were offered money that would enable us to feel that we would not need money from other sources for the rest of our life, provided we wrote a favourable write up on this technology.

Nether I nor my colleague was interested in illegal money and so we rejected this offer and submitted our report based on facts.

You and Dayanidhi Maran have the prowess to connect these VKCs all over India using the BSNL's DATAONE at a cost much cheaper than the one offered by this IIT professor. BSNL's DATAONE comes with a telephone and offers internet bandwidth at 10 times the speed of the IIT Professor's technology. DATAONE does not require wireless towers or wireless receivers! Your immediate intervention is the need of the day to save the nation.

 

The Village Knowledge Centre concept – a boon or bane?

We see a different kind of promotion in India in the name of rural e-governance. It is christened Village knowledge Centre (VKC) Scheme. The VKC concept is good for the the name it bears but has a gross misleading content. Placing a computer in a village does not bring about automatic knowledge to the rural population nor the private partner who is supposed to supervise these areas can bring about any qualitative change. India is a vast country with varying levels of evolution in administration, life style and so on. The urban India's life style is in tune with the liberalised environment. Here again there is a huge difference between the north and South India. Between the urban and rural India there is an yet another pole apart gap. The rural India still lives within its age old cocoon with caste and superstition leading their lives than technology or modern thoughts. In a developed state such as TamilNadu, a person belonging to Scheduled Caste can never imagine buying a piece of land in the village residential area. The Scheduled Castes have to live outside the village residential area in Colonies, in the direction prescribed by the villagers. One can imagine the situation in the BIMAR states where Raja–Rani feudalism is still practised in all its forms. In such a scenario, a valid question had been raised whether taking 1,50,000 computers to these villages could make any difference?

I have been interacting with the officials of Orissa for the past two years. UNDP had funded such computer assisted kiosks in the rural Orissa and the result is that such computer assisted kiosks have not made any difference in the lives of the rural population. In fact none of the kiosks could break even on operational cost. The reasons are apparent. In India the State Government, with its various welfare schemes and regulatory framework continues to hold importance in the lives of the common man. When the state Governments embark upon a drive to interact with its citizens using online transaction processing e-governance method, these kiosks would have business to take care of their operational cost as well as a profit. When no one talks about transaction processing system in government, these kiosks can only act as show pieces catering to internet surfing and/or pornography. The experience of TamilNadu using a low class wireless technology in rural Madurai had produced the same results. A study conducted by a team from the Madras Presidency College had revealed that all these rural kiosks are using the computers mostly for video game by the children of the SHG leader. If this can be the result in a developed state such as Tamilnadu one has to imagine the rest of India.

Today TV operated video game systems are available in India for under Rs.450 ($10). Then why force the hapless Women Self Help Groups to set up the computer kiosks at huge cost just to play video games?

It is important for the country to study the kiosk experiment that had been conducted in various states by professional evaluators before embarking on the ill conceived rural knowledge centres scheme. 

Your mission in Knowledge Commission can bring about a qualitative change.

The Rural knowledge Centre has some potential to assist the States and Central Government to get data from the villages. For example, the States acquire data from the village health centres and then transmit the same to government of India. There was a view that the States can use these VKCs to acquire data. This could be a good idea from the point of view of the states. But then, the project cannot be called Village Knowledge Centres but can be called Village assistance centres for the state government.

You would agree that such assistance would not be needed if the Government goes for process automation based e-governance touching all areas, including the rural areas. In the long run there is no substitute to process automation based e-governance. Why not initiate steps now? It is not late even now!

In the absence of a debate and a clear focus, the village knowledge centre concept can only result in more business for the hardware manufacturer and Microsoft, the operating software vendor.

The private-public partnership concept in e-governance:

In an ideal e-governance situation, the Government has to be carry out its operations online. Any legacy data capture has to be done through private parters. Similarly, the application software has to be got developed through these private partners. The present government purchase procedures have to be retuned to acquire a private IT partner to not only develop an application software but also implement the same over a period of say, 5 years. After the initial five year period, the organisation could take a decision whether the partnership should be continued under the same terms or not or whether the terms of partnership have to be revised. In such a scenario, the role of the private partner ends with developing the application software and assisting in the implementation. The actual government work is to be carried out by the Government / local body employees only. This enables the Government to acquire the expertise from the private sector while still holding the functions of the government. The Government still can exercise the option of privatising a portion of the front ending services through private partners including the women SHGs. In such a scenario, the Government owns the database, it does the day to day transaction operations and the private sector carries out front ending operations such as collection of applications or revenue. The government will have the option of appointing any number of private partners to front end its services thus safeguarding the nation from monopoly private sector hold in front ending of Government services. This is the logical way to go about implementing the PPP model.

Let us audit how India had fared under the PPP model.

The infamous e-seva model of Andhra Pradesh, without actually providing any online transaction processing services had handed over the government public sector revenue collection services to a single private company using questionable selection procedures. This was followed by yet another blunder by handing over the e-procurement tasks to another private company using yet another questionable routes. The basic purpose of e-procurement can only be bringing in transparency in procurement and prevent cartelisation of the bidders. The cost saving, if any, due to competitive pricing can only be a side issue. When we analyse the AP's e-procurement initiative, what we find is a series of paradoxes. First of all, the selection of the bidder was not done using the open tender route. The consultant who was entrusted with the task had chosen their “partners” to whom the bid papers had to be supplied. So, they supplied the bid papers only to these 20 “partners” chosen by PWC, the consultant. The Karnataka Government company KEONICS was prevented from bidding despite their strong efforts! In the end, the pre finalised bidder who had no standing in the IT business had been chosen in the name of an American company. The name of the American company was promptly withdrawn once the order was handed over to this company – C1 India Pvt. Ltd.

The climax is that the consultant (PWC) had joined C1 India in the implementation of the project!

As a matter of routine, PWC and C1 India jointly bid for e-procurement product all over India now.

The Government of AP had shown a Nelson's eye when C1 India discarded all its consortium partners only through whom it got eligibility to participate in the bid. 

With all this, if the people behind this episode had finalised a good deal for the Government one can be happy. Let us audit the manner in which the contract had been finalised. The Government of AP had agreed to part with .24% of the final tender price as contract sum to the private partner. Materials are available on record to show that the KEONICS, the Government of Karnataka company had offered the same product which had been implemented in Karnataka for a flat sum of Rs.7500 per tender!

Technically, C1 India which has been implementing the e-procurement contract for the past 2 years has been doing the job without any encryption at the client side. Encryption at the server side does not have any impact as the server administrator has every opportunity to back up the plain text before encrypting it. That means all the online tenders have been possibly rigged by C1 India during the past 2 years. With such a serious flaw the system has been still running in Andhra Pradesh at an exorbitant cost which beats logic.

The proponents of the e-seva and e-procurement concepts have been making hay all over India. A highly rigged tender document had been used by Karnataka to remove any healthy competition in their Bangalore One project which is nothing else but another avatar of e-seva of Andhra Pradesh only to bring in the vendor who had implemented the e-seva project in AP. The very same vendor had bagged the project not only in Karnataka but also in Maharashtra. In the whole exercise there is nothing called e-governance. It is a case of front ending of Government revenue collection services which is being misquoted as e-governance. (The Karnataka High Court had admitted a Public Interest Writ Petition against Bangalore One project during December this year).

There appears to be a design to bring in monopoly in the Government revenue collection services all over India using the same tender document only to enable a single vendor to corner the country.

A similar effort is being made to bring in C1 India all over India as the single e-procurement vendor!

You would agree with me that process automation based e-governance system can never result in a single vendor bagging the contract all over India. Because the processes are different in different states and so the specifications would also differ. No single vendor can hope to bag orders in the entire country. It is because the specifications are uniform, that is “bill collection”, the single vendor is able to bag one order after another. It is a different matter that at least in the case of Bangalore One project it had come to light that the tender documents were heavily doctored to favour only one vendor, that is the chosen vendor. To camouflage the illegitimate act, the proponents of the Bangalore One project have classified the Bangalore One tender document “secret and confidential”. A Secret and confidential tender document to choose a private partner to bring in transparency through e-governance! A great irony indeed.

It is my duty to bring it to your notice for action and follow up to save the nation, that the Indian e-governance scenario had been handled by a handful of IAS officers. None of these officers had any background of doing citizen centric services when they served in the field. You would agree that e-governance is basically to usher in good governance and those who take a lead in this area should have an established track record of supporting good governance through pro active administration in the field. None of these three-four officers had any such track record. And so the country's e-governance activities are directed towards a path leading to nowhere. It is a case of a boat without a direction control system.

The trend to create private sector monopoly in government services using e-governance as a bogey portends doom for the urban and rural masses in the long run.

You have the opportunity and power to intervene and set a course correction exercise.

Creation of National Institute of Smart Government (NISG), a prelude to cheat the nation!

I have written enough in the electronic media about the NISG and how it had been formed to cater certain vested interests and how it is kept away from Parliament control.

NISG had been formed a special purpose vehicle to usher in a new era in India driven by e-governance. The cause is noble indeed.  
The manner in which NISG had been formed to the detriment of the nation is a serious cause of concern. The proponents of NISG, mostly my colleagues in the IAS have formed it into a private limited company with charitable purpose under Section 25 of the Indian Companies Act. What is the contribution of the private sector. It is next to nothing. The entire funding for NISG had so far come from UNDP. UNDP had been apparently manipulated to sign an MOU with NISG to fund $30 millions for promoting e-governance in India!

No UN organisation can invest in India unless the nodal department in the Government of India concurs to the proposal in advance. So, in effect, the nodal departments in Government of India hold the key to the investments proposed by UN agencies. In this case the nodal department is the department of ICT in Delhi. This department had manipulated UNDP to invest in NISG, a private limited company which is not answerable any regulatory agency in India such as the Public Accounts Committee, the CBI or the CVI. What is the need to create such a special purpose vehicle without any controls is a serious question?

And what is the role of National Informatics Centre (NIC), the dream organisation of Rajiv Gandhi if it is not meant for e-governance. NIC , is a wholly owned Government of India organisation with due audit controls. It would be better if NISG is nationalised or the whole task is handed over to NIC.

India needs a clear e-governance policy:

The current IT policy does not cater to e-governance. The need of the hour is to have an e-governance policy for the nation. The process is very important. India needs to spell out where it wants to stand in the area of e-governance, say 10 years from now, 15 years from now, 20 years from now and so on.

What are the areas in which India wants to automate have to be decided and declared well in advance so that the mile stones set could be attempted.

There should be a clear policy on OSS in e-governance too.

India needs a well spelt out policy to support the BIMAR states in the area of e-governance. I can add more to this list but you are a person who can look into the future easily. So I am just leaving this aspect at this. 

Need for administrative reforms:

India has been attempting piece meal administrative reforms so far. We need a path breaking administrative reform, the way the Congress government had brought in the Right to Information Act (RTI). The role of All India Services and State services has to be redefined to suit the current requirements. The colonial hang over which is still there in large doses has to be wiped out. India should belong to Indians. Today the true India belongs to the politicians and bureaucracy only.

I am closing my thought process at this. I apologise for the rather long write up. Thank you for your valuable time.

I would be happy to assist you in your current effort to bring in changes in the country.

Regards.

C.Umashankar IAS.,

Chennai

044-42054443

94443-82827

————————————-

Please read this article.

The E-governance Muddle

http://www.dqindia.com/content/search/showarticle.asp?artid=74532

What was expected to bring transparency in government transactions has got mired in a slew of allegations. Dataquest probes the charges made by an IAS officer against his own clan…

Shubhendu Parth
Friday, September 02, 2005

————————————————–

E KAVI, E Gov India, India RTI,
Judicial Reforms &
India Whistle Blower's Action Group

Facilitating Emergence of  New India:

Based on Values of Transparency & Accountability, E Governance, Natural Justice, Human Rights and Human Dignity 

=======================================================================

I am V. M. Kumaraswamy MBA, is in business since 1971. Founder and Moderator of India's largest e-governance yahoo-group under the title eGovINDIA. You can reach this group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eGovINDIA

India WhistleBlower Act: The Action Group

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/INDIA_WBA

INDIA RTI is a Right to Information in INDIA discussion group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/INDIARTI

Exclusive Discussion Group on Judicial and Legal Reforms in INDIA. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JUDICIALREFORMS

eGovINDIA is a group dedicated to promoting true e-governance in India, consisting of members from all walks of life from within INDIA and the World over. Many State Ministers and senior bureaucrats of India are members of this group. We do have lawyers, social activists, freelance writers and journalists in the group. The group is meant for serious activists only. Casual members are not allowed to join the group. The group is also moderated by an Indian Administrative Service  (IAS) Officer.  As on date, the group has nearly 2700 members.

 

The focus of this group is true e-governance and use of open source technology in e-governance. The members of this forum have a passion to see a truly e-governed India, resulting in transparency and easy access to government services by  the common man, notably the depressed class people (so called untouchables), women and people living in far flung and difficult areas of India.

 


Corruption is a stark reality in India. The recent reports put India in the worst category in corruption index. For the group members, e-governance means less corruption too.

 

The least we expect out of e-governance is transparency.

Thanks

Sincereley

V. M. Kumaraswamy, MBA

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One Response to “Letter to Mr. Sam Pitroda, Chairman of NKC”

  1. […] Letter to Mr. Sam Pitroda, Chairman of NKC […]

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