eGovernance in India

Improving eGovernance in INDIA

Community Information Centres- Heralding a Revolution

Posted by egovindia on June 22, 2006

Community Information Centres- Heralding a Revolution
From Shefali Dash & Nandita Kapila, NIC HQ

https://egovindia.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

17August, 2002 was a landmark day for the eight North-Eastern states of the country. On this day Community Information Centres (CICs) set up by the government were dedicated to the people of the North-East of India by the Hon’ble Minister for Communications and Information Technology and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Pramod Mahajan, in the presence of an august audience, in Guwahati.

Project Inception

The North-East has traditionally been less developed due to its remoteness and difficult hilly terrain. A strong communication infrastructure is lacking. Information Technology (IT) has consistently catalysed socio-economic development. It was envisaged by the government that extending the reach of the IT revolution to this region would give a boost to all-round development. In particular, satellite based communication overcomes the challenge of terrain and geographic remoteness.

The Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, in February 2000, announced a plan for the establishment of IT facilities at Block level in the North-Eastern region of the country. The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology launched a Pilot Project to establish CICs in 30 Blocks in North-Eastern States in April 2000. The Pilot project was launched in August 2000.

Under the CIC project, CICs have been set up in all the 487 Blocks of the eight North-Eastern states viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.

The following table gives a summary of the magnitude of the project:

Sl. No

State

Districts

Blocks

Pilot

Main

1.

Arunachal Pradesh

14

56

2

54

2.

Assam

23

219

15

204

3.

Manipur

9

33

2

31

4.

Meghalaya

7

32

2

30

5.

Mizoram

8

25

2

24

6.

Nagaland

9

52

2

50

7.

Sikkim

4

40

2

38

8.

Tripura

4

30

3

26

TOTAL

79

487

30

457

Objectives

The project aims to achieve the following objectives:

• ICT Infrastructure at Block level
• Web Access and Internet Services such as E-mail
• Market Access and E-commerce
• Access to Socio-Economic Databases
• E-learning (Computer Aided Learning Processes) and E-education
• E-medicine, E-consulting
• E-governance applications, Government to Citizen (Citizen Centric) services
• Weather Information
• IT awareness among local people
• Computer Training Programmes
• Tender Notification
• E-employment Notification
Infrastructure and Management

Each Centre is well- equipped with infrastructure including one server machine, five client systems, one each of a VSAT, Laser Printer, Dot Matrix Printer, modem, LAN hub, TV, Webcam and two UPS (1KVA, 2 KVA).

Each CIC has two CIC Operators (CICOs) for managing the centers and providing services to the public.

The project is a joint effort by Department of Information Technology (DIT) under Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the State Governments of the North-Eastern states.

DIT has funded the project and has the responsibility of overall monitoring and management. NIC is the Implementation agency. Application Software development and Training of CIC Operators are a part of NIC’s responsibilities. The State Governments were entrusted with the mandate of site selection, preparation and maintenance, manpower recruitment and identification and creation of content for various services/applications to be delivered through the CICs.

Project Implementation and Monitoring

In addition to the CIC Cell at DIT and the CIC group at NIC Headquarters, the project has been executed with the contribution of NIC’s State Informatics Officers (SIOs) and District Informatics Officers (DIOs) who have liaised with the state government authorities and the vendors delivering and installing the equipment at the CICs. Eight State coordinators have been appointed at NIC Headquarters to facilitate implementation at the local and central levels.

The CIC group at NIC, New Delhi has developed a comprehensive information system for the CICs wherein every aspect of the progress of the project is remotely monitored. The delivery, installation and operation status of all hardware and software is logged into this site by the SIOs and CIC Operators themselves, including post-installation malfunction of machines and applications.

The CIC group holds review meetings, twice a week, over Video Conference, with the SIOs of the North-Eastern states, vendors representatives both in Delhi and in Guwahati and Calcutta, State Coordinators and officers from other NIC divisions associated with the project such as SATCOM division. Chat sessions are held everyday between staff from CIC group and SATCOM division at Headquarters and the CIC Operators at remote sites for troubleshooting. A Visual Monitoring system is in place whereby CICOs can send images captured with the Web Cameras to Delhi for attendance and general observation. TVs have been provided at each site to disseminate educational programmes through Doordarshan and IGNOU in addition to general entertainment which is anticipated to attract visitors to the CICs.

The establishment of the CICs has been an arduous and very challenging task. The

CICs being dedicated to the Nation by Hon'ble Union Minister Shri Pramod Mahajan

installation of the equipment was done during peak monsoon season. Due to heavy rains there were very frequent landslides and floods which have severely impeded easy travel. In spite of these hardships, the equipment was delivered and commissioned on target. Novel solutions were found for transporting man and machines including elephants, boats and plain head load. A truck bearing equipment for four CICs in Nagaland was hijacked by extremists. The Law and Order scenario in the region has threatened to scuttle satisfactory implementation of the project. As a result of a gigantic and unique team effort, agencies associated with the project have surmounted all hurdles to make the project a success.

Services

Basic services to be provided by CICs include Internet Access and E-mail, Printing, Data entry and Word processing and Training for the local populace. In addition, several citizen-centric or Government to Citizen
(G2C) services are to be delivered from the CICs. Some such services are

• Birth and Death Registration

• Service Facilitation Centre (e-Suvidha) wherein different types of certificates issued by Block and District administrations like SC/ST, Marriage etc can be disseminated through CICs

• Prices and other market information of Agricultural produce

• Information on Educational opportunities

• Job portals etc.

The number of visitors varies between 20 to 100 a week depending on location of CIC. Many CICs report over 150 visitors/week.

Utilization of CICs

Training
Training of the local population on the fundamentals of using computers and the imparting of basic working knowledge is a major activity in the Community Information Centres. A prime example is that of CIC, Yuksam, Sikkim which is doing some commendable work.

Since the opening of the Center in Yuksam, the CIC has seen successful completion of the Basic Computer Awareness Training Programme for the the first ten batches of trainees and there has been an increasing number of interested persons. The trainees include people from different walks of life, in an age group ranging from 10 years to 78 years. They are school going kids, college students, N.G.O. members, secondary & pre-school teachers, nurses, doctors, ration shop owners, forest guards, farmers, radio mechanic, barber, pan shop owner, tourist guides, porters, hoteliers, hotel receptionist and others. The Centre announced that special care would be taken in conducting lessons for the less educated local people and it has made a modest beginning by recruiting a few participants.

Some other interesting and useful ways in which users have derived benefit from the services at the CICs are described below:

• Guidance was given to tourists going to Myanmar, by bus, from Imphal to Mandalay on the Indo-Burma road by downloading information obtained from Web Search at CIC,Imphal East I.

• Computer Awareness Programmes were organized by a popular local organization at CIC, Raha. Students & teachers participated. Participants were from very interior places. Some had not seen computers before. The Local Daily also published the news.

Also at CIC, Raha:
• One user received information from the Neurological Institute, Guwahati for treatment of his father’s illness.

• Another user ordered medicines from Apollo Hospitals, Chennai

• A third user downloaded a Comparative Price List of Computers to help in purchase of a PC.

• A Bank Officer received the result of correspondence course.

A Film-Maker registered his entry for a Film Festival and received the entry rules.
• Board Examination results, the All India Entrance Examination results for various Engineering/Medical Colleges, State Bank Recruitment results were disseminated from several CICs.

• In CIC, Yuksam, Sikkim, demonstrations were held for young children from Class 1 to Class 5 which included Disney World Animations. The center also organized a Quiz Competition for the students of Yuksam Secondary School. The topics included General Knowledge, Science, History and Computers with audio, visual and video rounds among other simple rounds followed by Video Album shows and an internet demonstration. The youngest person to fully browse the net here is a 10 year old. The CIC will train all the members of the Panchayat here and surrounding areas who are then expected to convince the local people to take advantage of the CIC, as they enjoy a larger forum.

• CIC, Jugijan distributed information regarding Rainfall Records.

• An Assamese Word Processor ‘Sabdalipi

Inauguration of CIC at Roing, Arunachal Pradesh

has been introduced for use by visitors at CIC, Raha. Similarly a Bengali typing software was introduced for official

CIC Centre at Gabharu, Assam

purposes in Khowai, Tripura.

• Service for Tracking delivery of Speed Post articles and Express parcels by CIC, Imphal East I through links to associated Websites is being provided.

• A Teachers’ Day Programme organized by CIC, Wozhuro Ralan in Nagaland was addressed by local luminaries and used as a forum for Awareness generation.

CIC INFRASTRUCTURE

Project Sustenance

Many of the CICs, already operational, charge nominal amounts from users for services which helps them to meet day-to-day running expenses such as consumables, stationery, fuel for the Genset etc.

DIT/NIC will continue to provide manpower support to the CICs for five years and NIC will provide technical and maintenance support for this period. DIT/NIC will continue to provide satellite connectivity after five years. The Community Information Centres will then be handed over to the respective state governments. The state governments are required to evolve a viable business model to make the CICs self-sustaining during these five years. The private sector may collaborate with government for effective service delivery.

Substantive revenue generation has been achieved by many CICs such as Golaghat, Assam and Gangtok, Sikkim which pays the salaries of the operators from this revenue.

Future Plans

It is proposed to use the Community Information Centres for E-entertainment in the future. A select bouquet of channels could be telecast through the VSAT based network as TVs with other associated infrastructure is already available at the CICs. Other future prospects are the provision of connectivity to Schools,Hospitals and Post Offices in major habitats.

Quotes…

It gives me immense pleasure to inaugurate and present the CIC, Changlang Community Development Block, Changlang Distt, Arunachal Pradesh… The CIC will help the people to avail the benefits of global connectivity through Internet and Information Technology to raise the socio-economic conditions of this region…”
Thinghap Taiju, Hon’ble Minister of State, Irrigation and Flood Control, Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh
Be a member of Global Village using the latest technology (Internet) that reaches you like a bolt from the blue and enjoy it”
Dr Maniruddin Sheikh, Hon’ble Minister of State for Education, Govt of Manipur
“Participating in the inaugural function of CIC at Guwahati live from Diphu through VC was a completely new experience for us and we must admit that it was the most thrilling one we had ever had..”
Bhaskar Jyoti Barua, Lumbajong CIC site, Assam
Such excellent CIC centres will help reduce the communication gap from such a backward area particularly regarding flood related reports…
Utpal Dutta, MLA, Telahi Lakhimpur, Assam
People of Kalaktang are so interested in computers that we even have to open the CIC centre on holidays..”
Nima Dinglow, CIC Operator, Kalaktang, Arunachal Pradesh

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