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eGovernance Project in INDIA

DGSD has to be asked to explain how it chose its partner C1 INDIA- CVC need to check

Posted by egovindia on May 8, 2008

DGSD has to be asked to explain how it chose its partner and how it allows C1 India to collect at the rate of Rs.6000-9000 per bidder every year for being a bidder for DGSD?

DGSD is adopted a stand by allowing C1 India to collect annual subscription charges from bidders for using their e-procurement portal which has not been decided through open tender.

TCS, DGSD … the list grows : how to deprieve India in the name of technology? Re: [eGovINDIA] EGov – eBusiness Strategies For Government

This write up is purely in the interest of the nation and it speaks about technology. The intention is not to cricitcise Government but to tell them that they should look at the technology which is cost effective. They should also learn to look through the cost pushing design of the IT companies/PPP Partners

Government of India’s MCA (Ministry of Company Affairs) e-governance system which is  implemented by  TCS at a huge cost has built in digital signature tool which does  not work on Mozilla Firefox or linux.
TCS is unable to provide linux/Mozilla firefox support for the past 6 months.

As Director of 2-3 companies, I am unable to use the digital signature supplied by NIC (service provided by TCS) for the past 6 months.
ELCOT, as a matter of policy does not use any hardware that does not support linux.
The next thing is to issue notice to TCS under MRTP.
This is one side of the story.

The other side is the VSNL (TCS owned) supported REGINET software of Tamil Nadu which had a similar electronic signature provision. They wanted me to approve for extension of  79 such electonic signatures for the next one year. When I looked at the software design, it was meant to be used only by the intranet users and it had nothing to do with external users. But this system had been imposed by the vendors to sell over 500 such e-signatures at a cost of Rs.900 per e-sign every year. I was under pressure to approve the expenditure as the services came down after the expiry date.

ELCOT put a team to study the system design. Within two hours they got over the issue. The same e-signature dongles work for a different design. No need to pay TCS or anyone else. The beauty is that it can work forever, without payment to anyone.

__________________________

DGS&D – C1 eProcurement contracts under investigation

“E. Verwalten” <everwalten@gmail.com> wrote:

Indian Express Investigation 30th March 2008
http://www.indianexpress.com/story/290086.html

Indian Express Investigation 8th April 2008
http://www.indianexpress.com/story/293851.html

_______________________

Just because some American company wanted to sell its product we are blindly looking at e-signature for everything and thus end up pushing up the cost. Companies such as TCS look for pushing up the cost of e-governnace which is patriotic to the least.

TCS does not have any knowledge about platform independent technology, more so OSS technology and thus its costing is on the high side. Unfortunately the States as well as the central government do not have people who have hands on experience and hence e-gov solutions end up providing just revenues to the software companies without any tangible benefits to the citizens.

In the case of DCA, the users can simply do with user id and password. But they were forced to buy the digital signature from TCS. To use the digital signaturethe the companies have to buy Windows OS! After all these, the user is not able to get any great service from them. Every year, the companies have to shell out user charges to TCS for the digital signature. For every director on the Board the amount is collected. With over 400000 registered companies in India employing roughly 4 million directors, TCS is happily collecting Rs.10000 for one time charge and Rs.6000 per director every year! As the money does not go from the exchequer, there is no question from the CAG/AG/Audit teams. But this is a leakage of citizens money which is to be prevented.

A similar deprievation is on through VISA card system when India could have its own payment gateway for credit card / debit card payments. Everytime a VISA card is used a minimum of 1.6% of the collection goes to USA!
Japan has prevented it by not allowing credit cards in its shopping operations. But India, as usual has been sleeping by allowing the rampant use of VISA cards. It should go for its own credit card gateway or encourage cash purchase following the Japan pattern.

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Posted in eGovernance Intiatives of Govt., eGovernance issues, eGovernance Projects around Country | 1 Comment »

eGovernance Icons are determined by their work and planning not by mere LETTER.

Posted by egovindia on October 28, 2007

Now the implementing agency and TCS agreed that OSS is the best option not only in terms of cost but also in terms of security and overall TCO. [eGovINDIA] Open source news: Technical opinion from ELCOT to TN Medical department on Health System Project

[eGovINDIA] Open source news: Technical opinion from ELCOT to TN Medical department on Health System Project

Dear members,
Health department of Govt. of Tamil Nadu has been implementing a huge World Bank aided e-governance project covering almost all the hospitals of Tamil Nadu.
The MD, ELCOT was on the Technical/tender committee for selection of the vendor. After an elaborate process, TCS was chosen as the best qualified partner. But TCS lacks OSS experience. Those who had OSS experience did not qualify to become the best bidder.

Now the implementing agency and TCS agreed that OSS is the best option not only in terms of cost but also in terms of security and overall TCO.

ELCOT gave its technical opinion on various issues on the 8th September 2007. I am attaching the same for your information.

Apologies for the lengthy write up.

Regards

Umashankar

D.O. Letter No. ELCOT/MD/668/ 2007-08 Dated 08th September 2007

Dear Thiru Davidar,

Sub: Technological options for Hospital Management System – Our remarks furnished – Regarding.

Ref: Your D.O. Letter No. 3481/A3/HMIS/ HSP/2007 dated 31.08.2007

——-

We have carefully gone through the two technological options proposed by you and we have carefully noted your apprehensions with regard to the use of Open Source Technology in mission critical application. In the following write up we have made an attempt to provide answers to your queries and apprehensions. Apologies for using a few typical IT technical terms in the write up.

In both the options you have mentioned about Windows 2003 server alone as the server platform. The deployment of servers world over is in the order of 85% under Linux / Unix / Solaris Technology and only 15% under Windows platform. No one deploys Windows operating system for a mission critical or enterprise wide application. For the Health system, we are talking about an enterprise wide application if not a mission critical application. In the entire IT industry, people trust the Unix, Solaris and Linux Systems for mission critical and enterprise wide applications. The 15% server coverage in the world is largely deployed for use of the SMEs and definitely they are not deployed to run mission critical applications. Windows 2003 itself is meant for SMEs and not for enterprise applications. Hence choice of Windows 2003 server for the deployment is to be totally ruled out.

I am enclosing herewith the press clipping (Deccan Chronicle 06.09.2007) showing that the UK Government websites are being routinely hacked by Chinese groups in an organised manner . Such hacking is not possible if the servers are run using Linux/Unix/Solaris/ Mainframe environment. ELCOT’s website and all its application servers (totally 25) are running under Linux environment with just a PIV Linux box acting as firewall. ELCOT’s mini data centre had been certified as hacker proof after carrying out hacker testing. ELCOT is willing to demonstrate how a Linux server is more secure as compared to any other server, without using any external firewall box, third party software etc. The security system in Linux/Unix comes as a default. That means, the user need not necessarily possess any technical knowhow or deploy a person of technical knowhow to configure the security system. The cost saving could run into crores of rupees under such a safe environment. In the circumstances, the best possibility of protecting the Government’s interests is to adopt only the Linux /Unix/Solaris or the Zee operating system of the IBM main frame server.

With regard to the database, you have raised a question whether PostgresSQL or mysql can handle the load. (20-30 lakh transactions per day). Our recommendation for database is PostgreSQL under Linux / Main Frame Server environment. PostgreSQL is an enterprise wide database which can handle database of 15 Terra bytes and above. PostgreSQL is equated to Oracle enterprise database. Hence it can suit an application such as the HMI. Its performance is far superior as compared to MS SQL server. PostgreSQL provides not only enterprise wide database support but also provides PGADMIN III front end software free of cost. Pgadmin III is a browser based database administration tool that provides a web based front end to administer PostgreSQL database. The hassles associated with client installation of the database does not arise in the case of PostgreSQL whereas it is mandatory for client software installation in the case of Oracle, Ms-SQL database etc. PostgreSQL database as well as its future upgrades are available absolutely free. The undersigned had evaluated the PostgreSQL database versus MS SQL database and found out that the PostgreSQL database accepts binary data without any limitation. A test case was undertaken to load a 100 MB binary file (such as video, executable file etc) into the database. PostgreSQL accepted the binary file in one shot without seeking extra coding work. The same task was undertaken in MS SQL also. MS-SQL server was handicapped in accepting such a large binary file. The developer had to do an R & D before understanding the drawback associated with MS-SQL database with regard to the binary database intake. The developer had to get over this issue by doing a trial and error coding. First he split the 100 MB binary file into 50 units and then fed into the MS SQL database. The database accepted this. But before doing this, he tried to split the file into 10 units and then 5 units but the database refused to accept the 5 and 10 MB parts due to the binary limitation. Only when he split it into 2 MB pieces, the database accepted. Apparently such a backward technology database has overheads to the system as it requires first splitting of a binary file and then while reading the file, the system has to assemble the split files into one. This would retard the performance of the application software as well as the server. HMI has lot of binary records in the form of medical digital X rays, scan videos, pictures, etc. Hence Ms-sql server is definitely not suitable for HMI use for the above reason and a host of other reasons, including cost.

When it comes to costing, an equivalent enterprise MS SQL server database costs between Rs. 7-10 lakhs on each processor. That means for every two processor server one has to spend Rs.14-20 lakhs. An equivalent Oracle database costs Rs.24 lakhs per dual processor server. One of the overriding factors in implementation is the cost factor. PostgreSQL comes absolutely free. For a 300 server network, PostgreSQL saves as much as Rs.42 crores. Instead of spending such a huge sum on second level database, the department can invest in a high end server such as the IBM main frame server and run the Mainframe server under Linux/PostgreSQL environment. The cost of two high end enterprise class Mainframe servers is estimated at Rs.6 crores only, including 5 year maintenance cost. In this backdrop, the department needs to make an objective evaluation as to whether it should go for such a high cost database when a better database is available absolutely free. ELCOT is in the process of procuring two enterprise class main frame servers for which ELCOT has identified Suse Linux Operating System running on Mozilla Firefox coupled with PostgreSQL as the database. So, the department would have a pilot implementation to bank upon before making the final decision.

A question may be raised on the support available for PostgreSQL database. It it is the experience of this author that MS-SQL or Oracle does not provide any support unless annual support agreement at a cost of 20-40% of the cost of the database / per year is entered into. With such annual support cost, one can achieve ten times of technical support under PostgreSQL. It is noteworthy to mention that anyone who has experience in administering Oracle/MS-SQL server/DB2 can handle the PostgreSQL database. The undersigned has been watching and monitoring the activities of over 36 technical professionals in ELCOT who have been handling PostgreSQL database in the process of developing e-governance software for ELCOT. ELCOT’s non technical officials also have been using the database through PGADMINIII for viewing the database alone. Moreover, paid annual maintenance support can be obtained from the authors of PostgreSQL by registering with postgresql.org. In a nutshell, there is plenty of support available for PostgreSQL database including large technical manpower availability in Chennai/TamilNadu itself and also online support from the authors of the database. The costing for such maintenance is less than a tenth of the cost one has to pay for supporting other proprietary databases.

Technically speaking, the database of the HMI need not be hosted on a single server because each district hospital is an independent unit. Except the master databases and control tables, all other transaction and application software components can be separated and hosted on individual servers either centrally or at different locations. ELCOT already had implemented such a technology for the online family card administration system. In such a scenario, the PostgreSQL database itself would be considered a heavy weight database. It would be sufficient to deploy mysql database itself under such environments. Deploying Ms-sqlserver or Oracle would be an overkill at a very high cost factor.

Your question that whether mission critical application can run on Open Source Technology, it can be understood by making a visit to ELCOT. ELCOT had already hosted its Family Card Application online. The application is currently being accessed from anywhere in the State using TN State Wide Area Network backbone. As of now, the system has not gone down even by a minute. The Government employees as well as the contractors access the database using the web based application software all over the State. ELCOT is producing an average of 10,300 family cards per day using the system and each family card application passes through the online workflow process before reaching the final printing stage. ELCOT has no difficulty in running the system. It is noteworthy that the database consists of text and binary content (photos) measuring over 1 Terra byte. Hence, running a mission critical application using an open source database such as PostgreSQL is easy and organised. ELCOT has the necessary technical manpower and experience to provide a complete range of support starting from configuring the system, application software development, deployment and support.

You have questioned the performance related issues in the deployment of Open Source Technology. The Linux Operating System as well as the Open Source databases that run on Linux Operating System have no performance issues at all. For the envisaged magnitude of the hospital management system, open source software offers a one-to-one performance matching system. There is no question of lack of performance or poor performance from the Open Source System. In fact, the open source systems are free from viruses and security issues and hence the performance degradation due to anti virus software and security management software packages is not suffered by the OSS based systems.

Suitable Software development and deployment platform: The Technology proposed by TCS is Dot Net and Ms-sqlserver. This is like locking the Department to a single vendor as both these packages make it impossible to migrate to any other platform in future. Neither Dot Net nor Ms-sql server runs on other platforms. So, the Government would be forced to remain within the bind of the supplier, viz., Microsoft. Dot Net technology is not only proprietary but also a recent one. It comes with its own overheads and bugs, whereas the tested technology that offers enterprise level computing support world over is the Java Technology. Dot Net has been in the field only for the past four years, whereas Java Technology has been in the field of Information Technology for the past thirty years. J2EE/JAVA technology offers fool-proof security and absolute scalability. Large enterprises trust ONLY Java technology. Java Technology is an open technology. Dot Net is liable for security threats and vulnerability which are the inherent drawbacks of the Windows Operating system. Java Technology is recently advanced itself to new heights by the introduction of AJAX technology (http://www.adaptive path.com/ publications/ essays/archives/ 000385.php). AJAX technology offers a client-server like ability to the browser based application software. In a typical browser based application, the queries go back and forth the remote server for every move/call, thus reloading the web page for every move of the user. But AJAX had revolutionized the web field by doing away with the page reloading (which is time consuming and some times irritating) drawback. Things happen as and when the user moves to the next area of operation on the web page with the user never realising that he/she has been using a browser based application where the server is located probably thousands of miles away. This is precisely the advantage of a client server application which usually has a local server. With the advantage of the look and feel of the client-server system, the AJAX has in fact high jacked the entire application software field. Even proprietary software vendors had to run for integration of AJAX in their respective systems. Java comes with AJAX by default. It is AJAX today. Tomorrow some other technology would be introduced and the same would be available for free download from Java developers. No proprietary software vendor such as Microsoft would offer such a future technology free like this. That means the Government would struck with an outdated and non dynamic technology at any point of time.

It is noteworthy that TCS which has never implemented an application software under Java Technology has been attempting to impose a highly proprietary and backward technology on Government by suggesting Dot Net technology. In our opinion, Dot Net technology should not be used for the above mentioned reasons and also for the reasons of higher cost on each server in addition to the loose security systems which are built into the MS-Windows environment itself.

Hence we recommend the use of Java/J2EE technology with Struts framework for the software development environment. For deployment of the software, the department may consider an open source alternative such as JBOSS.

Currently, the entire open source community has been concentrating on Jboss server deployment software. The second alternative could be Apache Tomcat. World’s 85% of the servers run on Apache Tomcat or JBOSS server environment. These are available free which includes free upgrades.
Support issues Vs. Open Source software (OSS) technology: Immediate and online support is available for all the Open Source software products. The knowledge repository for any software under OSS is mind boggling. Within minutes one can find a solution to a technical issue, absolutely online. Such a powerful support system is not available for any proprietary technology as the proprietary technology holders have been keeping the knowledge sharing at bay in order to maximise their profits. As OSS is owned by the community, the knowledge sharing on technology, including bugs and the bug fixes is absolute. ELCOT has already implemented OSS in the Family Card Printing process, anywhere Registration software, Commercial Tax Dealer Registration and Return Filing software, Old Age Pension Scheme Administration software, Online Farmers Card issue software, Online Identity Card for Government employees and so on. OSS technology is a simple yet professional technology. Every student who graduates from Engineering colleges under computer science/IT/ECE learns this technology. Hence, the question of non-availability of technical manpower to drive and use the Java Technology does not arise.

Hence, our recommendation is that Hospital Management System should be built only on Java Technology alone.

Jasper Report: Jasper Report is a powerful open source report building software available for free download and use. Jasper Report is the best report writing software available internationally and it is available free of cost. Jasper Report is not only free for downloading but its upgrades are also available free. In a nutshell, Jasper Report enables the user to develop reports using an highly attractive Graphical User Interface (GUI). It almost resembles the popular Crystal Report Software but has more advanced features than the Crystal Report Software. Crystal Report allows preparation of reports only using the client server environment. That means, the user has to install necessary software executable on the client system to run the report, whereas, the Jasper Report does not require any such installation on the client system. It runs across the web and the user gets the report right on his/her desktop irrespective of the size of the document and the operating system in use. The report is rendered in Adobe pdf format which is cross platform format. The user can save such document on his/her desktop system. Apparently, TCS is unaware of this powerful open source tool and has not provided appropriate technical advice to the department in this regard. Our technical advise in this regard is that the Hospital Management System should be built on Java technology supported by Jasper Report for writing of reports offering fixed page width reports. In a typical hospital administration system, one requires to generate and print day to day billing, out patient slips, prescription slips, hospital case sheet and so on. This requires fixed page width printing facility. The page width should not over flow. Jasper Report offers the fixed page width format as default and hence our recommendation is that the Hospital Management System should be built with Jasper Report for Linux as the default report building system.

To sum up, our recommendations are as follows:

  1. Hospital Management System should be built on J2EE architecture with Struts framework which offers N-Tier architecture. This technology allows the user to set up any number of application servers, database servers and security servers and the user will never know the number of systems driving the software. This also enables to deploy heterogeneous operating system servers across the State. J2EE technology is a cross platform technology, meaning that the application software developed under J2EE can be deployed from one operating system to another. According to latest assessment report from Gartner, a leading international consultant that over 80% of the new application software that are being build by the year 2009 would be only on platform independent technology (read – J2EE/Php) and by the year 2017, the world would be free from proprietary (read – Microsoft) technology in the area of operating system. (Copy of the ppt slide enclosed). When the world at large is moving towards cross platform and more open technologies, Tamil Nadu should not opt for a backward looking, costed and proprietary technology such as Dot Net.

     

  2. Already the Government have approved 100% open source technology for a typical mission critical application such as Co-operative Banking operations. This application software has been entrusted to Onward software Services Limited (finalised through open tender) at a cost of Rs.1.6 crores. Once developed, this application software would be implemented from a data centre having a high end server such as Mainframe server or a series of centralised servers, connected to TNSWAN, offering absolutely mission critical services such as banking and commonly shared ATM services.

     

  3. J2EE also enables deployment of low end servers with high end performance as the total load would be shared by a series of servers and not one single server. This is only optional but the same makes the technology attractive for Government.

     

  4. The database should be PostgreSQL for Linux (latest build).

  5. Jasper Report running on linux OS should be the report writing software for building all types of reports.

     

  6. The system should be run on Linux/UNIX/Solaris or the Mainframe OS (Zee OS)

  7. If linux OS is chosen, then one of the two popular linux server versions viz., Redhat or Suse can be deployed.

     

  8. Main frame OS is an option if Mainframe servers are deployed.

  9. Default browser should be Mozilla FireFox. The system should also be capable of running on Internet Explorer and all standard browsers.

     

ELCOT has already developed, deployed and tested high end application software in all the above technology (except Mainframe technology). ELCOT is willing to showcase the entire technology to the Medical department and/or TCS. ELCOT is willing to provide necessary technical guidance in this regard.

Kindly feel free to call us for any assistance in this regard. We suggest that a meeting may be convened to finalise the technology and any decision on the technology should be not just based on the convenience of TCS or their existing software code but based on security, scalability, interoperability, high availability and cost factor in the short run or in the long run.

Yours Sincerely,

 

(C. UMASHANKAR)

Encl: As above.

To

Thiru P.W.C. Davidar, I.A.S.,

Special Secretary to Government,

Department of Health & Family Welfare &

Project Director, Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project,

7th Floor, DMS Building,

Chennai – 600 006.

Copy to :

Thiru A. Mohan,

Deputy Director General,

National Informatics Centre (NIC),

Rajaji Bhavan, Besant Nagar,

Chennai – 600 090

 

 ______
C.Umashankar IAS., (TamilNadu Cadre)
e-governance expert.
& Managing Director, Electronics Corporation of TamilNadu Limited(ELCOT)
(A Government of TamilNadu Undertaking)Co-Moderator:
http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/eGovINDIA
Mankind deserves open standards and open source software. Only the chosen ones get its taste. Others just hear the taste.

Chennai:
Ph: 91-44-42054443

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BSNL gets 27,481 villages connected

Posted by egovindia on August 5, 2006

BSNL gets 27,481 villages connected
Task of providing rural telephone connections to targeted 66,822 villages to be completed ahead of the original schedule, promises BSNL
 
Friday, August 04, 2006

http://www.ciol.com/content/news/2006/106080404.asp

NEW DELHI: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will finish the task of providing rural telephone
connections in the targeted number of 66,822 villages ahead of the original schedule of November 2007, said  Dayanidhi Maran, Minister of Communications & Information Technology.

Out of these 66,822 Village Public Telephones (VPT), 14,183 VPTs are to be provided on satellite
based media and the remaining 52,639 shall be provided on other technologies. So far, as on 30th
June 2006, 27,481 uncovered rural villages have been provided with VPTs. Assistance for both
capital as well as operational expenditure for these VPTs is being met out of the Universal
Services Obligation Fund (USOF).

Speaking on the agenda of the meeting “Rural Telephony”, Maran said that 1,86,872 numbers of VPT
which were earlier working on Multi Access Radio Relay (MARR) technology and installed before
1.4.2002 are to be replaced by BSNL as most of these were non functional.

BSNL has, as on 30th June 2006, replaced 1,54,567 MARR VPTs. replacement of the remaining MARR
based VPTs will be completed by BSNL in the next 2-3 months, Maran said.

The Minister further informed the members that 46,253 villages with population exceeding 2,000
and without a PCO facility are being provided with a Rural Community Phone (RCP). USOF has
entered into agreement with BSNL and RIL in September 2004 to provide 24,794 and 21,459 RCPs in
these villages over a period of three years.

Agreements have also been signed in March 2005 for providing subsidy support towards installation
of Rural Household Direct Exchange Lines (RDELs) to the individual customers in Rural Areas. The
support for these RDELs will be extended to cover 1685 Short Distance Charging Areas (SDCAs).
BSNL has emerged as successful bidder in 1267 SDCAs of the total tendered SDCAs while Reliance,
Tata Teleservices Ltd and TTL (MH) have been successful in 203, 172 and 43 SDCAs.

USOF is also extending support for 18.65 lakhs rural lines installed between April 2002 and March
2005. Agreements to this effect have also been signed by USOF with BSNL and RIL in May 2005 and
August 2005. Financial support has also been provided to nearly 90.5 lakhs rural household DELs
(Direct Exchange Lines) for the period April 2002 to January 2004, which had been installed in
the country prior to April 2002.

© CyberMedia News

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Boardroom in classroom: India Inc is helping script mid-day meal success story in Rajasthan

Posted by egovindia on June 25, 2006

Boardroom in classroom: India Inc is helping script mid-day meal success story in Rajasthan

Sandipan Sharma

Posted online: Sunday, June 25, 2006 at 0000 hrs

JAIPUR, JUNE 24:This week’s front-page stories about India Inc getting into big-ticket infrastructure, real estate, agro-processing and information technology pushed into the sidelines another significant foray by corporate India. This time, into the mid-day meal scheme in Rajasthan.

Responding to an aggressive campaign by the state government to attract the private sector to ramp up its mid-day meal scheme, the biggest corporate names in India and abroad and industry-backed NGOs are adopting district after district in the state to ensure that children coming to schools get high-quality meals during their lunch breaks.

The Birla group, Mahindra and Mahindra, Infosys, DCM Sriram and Sterlite groups are already part of the scheme in Rajasthan. The Tatas, Oberois, Nevatias (Gujarat Ambuja), and even steel king L N Mittal have also expressed their interest to join.

Confirming this, the state’s mid-day meal scheme director Sudhansh Pant said: “More than 4.5 lakh children in Rajasthan are getting extremely nutritious food prepared by some of the big industrial houses in the country.”

Rajasthan is arguably the only state in India which has been able to attract so much support from the private sector for this scheme. The involvement of the private sector in the scheme, launched in July under the directives of the Supreme Court, is a result of a well-devised public-private partnership.

There are more than 73 lakh students in various primary schools of Rajasthan. And though the state and the Centre set aside a provisional budget of nearly Rs 580 crore, the average amount that the state could spend on a student, including the transportation cost, was just Rs 3.20 per meal.

Besides this finance crunch, the quality of meals was constrained by the lack of organized infrastructure and cooking facilities. Aware of these constraints, a few months ago the state Government, led by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, launched a campaign to enlist the support of the private sector, sending individual letters to industrial houses. The state government is also constructing more than 25,000 mid-day meal kitchens and stores as part of the ongoing drought relief works.

The Bangalore-based Akshay Patra Foundation (supported by Infosys) was the first to take up the cause, triggering a trend. Today, nine corporate houses and NGOs like the Naandi Foundation—backed by several Hyderabad corporates— run the scheme in 11 towns of Rajasthan. Eleven others have signed up MoUs for supporting the scheme in several districts.

The Rajasthan Government provides the food grain and conversion cost of Rs 2 per child (the highest in the country) to these organizations. With inputs from the organizations that enhance the quality and nutrition value, the meals are then cooked in centralized kitchens set up by these organizations and served in hot cases to the children.

Apart from preparing meals, the private sector is also contributing generously to create the mid-day meal infrastructure in the state. “We have received donations (and proposals) in excess of Rs 4.5 crore for setting up the infrastructure from industrial houses,” Pant told The Sunday Express.

Infosys, Tata, Birla, Mittal, M&M, Oberois…

Already Functioning

Naandi Foundation (supported by Reddy Labs, Satyam and several other Hyderabad-based corporates): Udaipur (70,000 students), Bhilwara (15000)

Akshay Patra (Infosys): Jaipur (53,200), Baran (10,600), Rajsamand (10,000)

QRG Foundation (Havell’s): Alwar (10,000)

Proposals Received

Hindustan Zinc Ltd: Kapasan, Gangrar, Nimbahera (80,000)

DCM Sriram & R K Marbles: Kishangarh (20000)

Tatas, Oberoi, L N Mittal (have responded to state’s request, details being worked out)

Financial Assistance

AV Birla Group (Chittorgarh): Rs 1.12 crore

Mahindra and Mahindra (Udaipur): Rs 1 crore

DCM Sriram Group (Jhalawar): Rs 50 lakh

sandipan.sharma@expressindia.com

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WB report on reforming public services

Posted by egovindia on June 24, 2006

WB report on reforming public services
DH News Service New Delhi:
http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/jun242006/

national1938342006623.asp

Greater political ownership, stability of tenure for reform champions and

reinforced accountability mechanisms hold key to improving

public services delivery in India,

a World Bank report says.

The report, Reforming Public Services in India, underscores the need for

greater political consensus on social development programmes,

empowerment of civil services through stability of tenure and managerial

autonomy and greater civil society involvement in programme design and monitoring.

Through a detailed analysis of 31 success stories across several sectors, including education, health, information technology and urban management, the report seeks to build a better understanding as the key factors that enabled these successes.

Releasing the report, Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said there has been a continuity in the economic reforms initiated in 1991.

In order to ensure that public service delivery achieves maximum efficiency,

the Government is increasingly using information technology and has empowered

Self-Help Groups to make its public investment programme like

Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme succeed in its reach and impact.

World Bank Country Director for India Michel Carter said the cases documented

in the report “illustrate improvement in service delivery that could take

place even in the absence of large-scale systematic changes”.

The key

The report’s lead author and senior public sector management specialist at the World Bank Vikram Chand said the vision of political leadership along with broad consensus across the party lines holds the key to triggering service delivery reforms. Significantly, the report has identified certain common factors in recent innovations in service delivery.

They pertain to the need for political ownership and consensus for the success of social programmes,

stability of tenure for officials championing reform in service delivery and redefining service standards

and real process re-engineering to accompany e-governance efforts to improve service delivery.

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Indie Podcasting with Open Source

Posted by egovindia on June 23, 2006

Indie Podcasting with Open Source

by John Littler

 http://www.linuxdevcenter.com/pub/a/linux/2006/06/22/floss-podcasting.html?CMP=OTC-0O724Z062301&ATT=Indie+Podcasting+with+Open+Source
06/22/2006There have been quite a few articles and books on podcasting already, and some of them are excellent–particularly the ones that deal with some small part of the process. Quite often, however, they neglect to mention a common goal of podcasting: to be like a radio station, slick and with easily understood formats. That's odd to me. Podcasting is an ideal medium for experimentation because the costs are so low, so you should try out some off-the-wall stuff.

That said, how do you put a podcast together?

Equipment

For gearheads this can be a difficult area, because there is absolutely no limit to the amount of expensive gear you can accumulate! However, the basics are straightforward and relatively cheap. You need a computer with a sound card and audio ins and outs, a net connection, web space, some editing and recording software, and a mic. For intensive, multitrack editing with effects, you need quite a hot computer. For straight interviews, you can concievably get away with something like a Pentium I.

For location work, you need something that can travel, such as your laptop. Mstation uses a minidisc recorder purchased secondhand, plus a tiny Sony stereo mic (ECM719) that provides quite reasonable quality. This sort of setup is ideal if you want to be semi-invisible and not make a big deal of what you're doing. The flip side is that some interviewees might regard that sort of setup as looking unimportant. More than likely, though, they'll settle down sooner without having a big mic stuck in their faces.

Information on sound cards is readily available, but researching mics can be more difficult, especially if you want to record music or ambient sound. If you want to really get into it, reading some of the audio-engineering specialist texts will be rewarding. If you don't, then going to a couple of pro audio shops and asking around will yield an answer within your budget. Brand names such as Shure are usually pretty safe; even Radio Shack has some good models.

For recording standard phone calls, there are two types of special mics. One is an induction loop that attaches to the handset, but the sound quality is pretty low. The higher-quality option is one that goes inline with a wired phone handset.

Recording something like Skype doesn't require any mics beyond the one necessary for the phone call. Here are a couple of how to's: Recording Skype in Linux, Recording Skype in Windows.

Recording

The Audacity application has occupied a lot of column inches in podcasting articles, and rightly so. It is easy to use, free, and runs on all the major platforms. You can record directly into it, edit, and use the LAME plugin to produce an MP3 from inside it.

A lesser-known alternative is Ardour. Its goal is to become the Open Source competitor of high-end products such as Pro Tools. It's big and powerful, and while not quite as intuitive as Audacity, it is more rewarding for power users. Among other things, it plays with multi-in audio cards such as the RME Hammerfall, and works with control surfaces. (Yes, that's part of the no-limit gear goal.) Control surfaces are digital mixers that let you use knobs and faders rather than a mouse. A mouse can do only one thing at a time, whereas you can perform many tasks simultaneously on a control surface. They also provide a nice tactile sense, even though most control surfaces aren't actually all that nice. This sort of setup only becomes really necessary if you need to balance a lot of inputs.

Ardour is available for Linux and Mac OS X.

One point worth making here is that more powerful apps give you more choices. You might find it easier to be creative with them once you know the basics.

Program Decisions

In the world of indie podcasting, format decisions are the servant of content rather than vice-versa. (I just made that up but it sounds valid to me.) If you think about it, some of the most annoying moments of commercial TV and radio have to do with formatting decisions determined mostly by the need for advertisements; the same goes for quite a few web pages. The fact that this sort of programming can be lively and appealing to those with no attention span, no need for actual information, and no IQ worth mentioning, is beside the point. (Or, maybe it is the point.)

There are no rules for indie media, other than maybe "honor the content," where content is some combination of the idea and truth. Otherwise, especially with something like an interview, there wouldn't be any creativity at all–just the raw data.

Another topic of discussion has been the assumption that you should always look for the biggest market for your output. What is it about gigantism that gets people's juices flowing? What is it about "big" that makes some people equate it with "good"? Personal podcasting removes the need to cover the costs of expensive studios, license fees, and various employees. Make the most of it and let your mind roam free.

Enough of the rhetorical questions.

Everyone needs some affirmation and ego-stroking, of course, and the number of downloads you get is a direct affirmation. The question is: how big is big enough?

Editing and Quality Control

OK, you've clicked the big red button in Audacity or armed a track and pressed record in Ardour, and recorded yourself putting the world to rights.

In instances where people need to figure out what you're saying or the detail of what you're recording, quality is important. How much quality do you really need? It's safe to say that the better the quality, the longer people will listen. Lots of people will sit still for recordings of Skyped interviews, but quite a few will not. Part of it depends on how compelling the subject matter is.

At this point, you're beyond the quality of the equipment in the recording chain. That's a done deal for now. This is the stage in which you can get rid of any major annoyances, such as a door slamming or a coughing fit. Audacity and Ardour both make it quite obvious where the noises are and the areas you need to delete, but what happens if the door bangs just as someone makes an important point? What if there is no possibility of a retake? It's your judgment call. Beyond that is the real editing phase, which is where your real taste, honesty, and true intention come in. Practice!

Putting the Files Up

What makes an audio file a podcast? There isn't anything special about the actual file data. It's still an MP3 (or whatever format). What makes it special and what enables people to subscribe to your podcasts is the RSS (Really Simple Syndication, some would say) 2.00 feed. RSS 2.00 added the enclosure tag that makes the whole thing doable.

There are several easy ways to get your podcasts on the web. If you're already a blogger through one of the organized blogging sites, then most likely there's a section where you can simply upload your podcast files and your site will do the rest. Another easy alternative is to use something such as ourmedia.org, which is free and allows you to upload all kinds of video and audio files.

If you're rolling your own, there are a few things to know. (None of it is exactly headache material.)

The first task (assuming you already have web space) is to create a directory for the podcasts. At Mstation, it's podcast_files. You can then use the dircaster PHP script:

If you put this in the files directory and head for http://my_url/podcast_files/dircaster.php, you will find a genuine RSS 2.00 feed that people can subscribe to.

The resulting tags that are sent to a browser might look like the following:

At Mstation, we also have a separate Blosxom page where we discuss what the Mstation podcasts are about and how you can subscribe. We've used the Blosxom plugins enclosures, interpolate_fancy, and headlines to produce the layout and enable you to use the Mstation RSS 2.0 Podcast subscription feed with very little work on our part.

Blosxom handles the new m4v format for the TV iPod, while dircaster (at this stage, anyway) does not.

Once you have a subscription URL, you can also register it with iTunes or another feed syndicator such as Wikipedia list of podcast syndicators. On iTunes, you must create an account, but you don't actually have to buy anything to register your feed.

Good luck, and may your mind flow free!

John Littler is chief gopher for Mstation.org.

Related Articles:

Pioneer Podcasters Share Insider Tips: Techniques & Equipment
Listen in as Jack Herrington, the author of Podcasting Hacks, chats with pioneer podcasters Doug Kaye and James Polanco. Doug is the founder of IT Conversations, the influential site that features podcasts covering important events, programs, and interviews with industry luminaries. James is the founder of "Fake Science," the popular podcast radio show covering all things digital music–news, reviews and profiles of digital artists.

What Is Podcasting
So, you're ready to hop on the podcasting bandwagon, but you're not sure how to get started? This article by Phillip Torrone briefly describes what podcasting is and the software you'll need, then takes you right to the fun with a comprehensive step-by-step guide to podcast production. From recording to editing to publishing and syndicating your podcasts, Phillip covers everything you need to know to serve up your first podcasts.

Related Articles:

Pioneer Podcasters Share Insider Tips: Techniques & Equipment
Listen in as Jack Herrington, the author of Podcasting Hacks, chats with pioneer podcasters Doug Kaye and James Polanco. Doug is the founder of IT Conversations, the influential site that features podcasts covering important events, programs, and interviews with industry luminaries. James is the founder of "Fake Science," the popular podcast radio show covering all things digital music–news, reviews and profiles of digital artists.

What Is Podcasting
So, you're ready to hop on the podcasting bandwagon, but you're not sure how to get started? This article by Phillip Torrone briefly describes what podcasting is and the software you'll need, then takes you right to the fun with a comprehensive step-by-step guide to podcast production. From recording to editing to publishing and syndicating your podcasts, Phillip covers everything you need to know to serve up your first podcasts.

Posted in eGovernance Projects around Country, OPEN SOURCE FOSS | Leave a Comment »

When are we ready for ERP?

Posted by egovindia on June 23, 2006

When are we ready for ERP?

Implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning solution is not as expensive as some companies think—and not as difficult

Computer systems have been around for more then four decades though they have become commonplace only in recent times. This age of information technology has positively affected most organisations in some way or the other. A fine blend of hardware and software options is available in the market to conduct business more efficiently. This is further emphasised by the amount of IT-related expenditure made by even small businesses in the form of computer systems, networking equipment and Internet connections. Most organisations have software applications (from simple Excel sheets or Word documents to ERP/CRM applications at the higher end) to conduct their day-to-day functions. Many purchase decisions are made not on the basis of needs or wants but because another organisation has it. However, like it or not, an ERP application is eventually essential for all businesses.

Procrastination of the inevitable is nothing but wastage of precious time. The questions are: when are we as an organisation ready for an ERP application? How do you decide when and if it is the right time? This article tries to touch on some aspects of your business which might benefit from ERP.

The most crucial factors in any business are time and money. If you create a good product (or service) and sell it in the market at the right time then you are bound to benefit from it. It is also necessary to manage your costs and the pricing of the product. Product life-cycles are growing shorter by the day, and variants flood the market in no time. Competitors also react faster than in earlier days. There was a time when Henry Ford sold only black-coloured cars in the US—and people bought them. Now every year companies are coming out with a newer brand or model. In the pre-Maruti era India had only Ambassador and Fiat cars. Today, a Maruti 800 itself has more than four variants. To stay in the race and sustain oneself, innovation and immediate action are essential. An organisation’s decision-makers need a wealth of information at their finger-tips to react. They rely a lot on decision-support systems to do what-if analysis and simulation prior to forming and adopting a particular strategy. If an organisation continues to have discrete applications which cannot talk to each other, imagine the amount of redundancy that will follow and the amount of time it will take. Data processed into information is relevant only for a specific period of time; beyond that it is useless junk which has no meaning.

Let us bring in more complexity to the above scenario with an example from the airline business. Imagine the number of possible combinations of destinations, fliers and flights. Is it possible to optimally manage all that with a non-integrated software and a couple of Excel sheets? Imagine the amount of manual consolidation that will have to be done to get some meaning out of the data. The top management of these companies needs regular MIS—and in some cases daily input—to take immediate action. A one-sided view of the data is insufficient for decision-making. Organisations are formed with the objectives of growth, increased profitability, and sustenance. Each day the quantum of data increases. Competition is growing at an alarming pace, and is compounded by globalisation, due to which there are cheaper alternatives available in the market.

Earlier, businesses in India grew in a protected environment, which is fast disappearing. Regulations are becoming stringent, and newer taxation systems are being introduced by the state. The government also releases a regular notification containing minor or major changes that affect business in multiple ways. This is the environment in which today’s organisations have to function.

Enterprise Resource Planning is the revolutionary system which integrates all functions. It is the common source of accumulation of organisation data, and is configured to generate many types of MIS and drill-down reports which help in analysing the data in various forms by tossing and turning it around. For example, you can have department-wise expenditure and cost-centre-wise expenditure reports to understand where your money is being spent. These applications come with in-built audit systems to conduct internal audits and generate daily balance sheets. Inventory costs can be reduced by material resource planning which generates information such as product-wise consumption or item-wise shortfall figures. It also drastically reduces redundancy since data flows from one module to another based on the way in which business processes have been configured. Organisations can also go in for backward and forward integration with their external value chain members like suppliers and buyers.

All said and done, ERP applications are still an expensive affair—even if we opt for one made in India. There is also lots of doubt about their success considering the failure-rate statistics floating on the Internet. It requires immense calculation and cost justification prior to making an investment decision. The cost of ERP is not just the price of the product but also the other costs such as human resources, time and material deployments required to make it functional. Yet all companies might not need an ERP application; an organisation may simply be too young or may not be generating enough revenue to go in for this kind of investment, or the business may not be too complicated or may be located in a single location. Some businesses can also say that they have a great product and good sales figures, hence there is no need for ERP. So what is the right time to get into an ERP project?

My recommendation is that organisations should start young when the systems are not too rigid and can be molded, when the culture is not so deep-seated that it takes ages to modify, when people are still unsettled and can be rocked, when the business is in its growth phase and the road forward is definitely uphill. These will help make business processes systematic and streamlined.

Some organisations delay their ERP initiative simply because of lack of information and foresight. They do not know that ERP is not just SAP, Oracle Financials or J D Edwards. There are lots of other smaller packages (inexpensive compared to the ERP application giants) available in the market which can be used. The networking and hardware requirements for these applications are minimal, as a result of which they can be easily set up. The idea is to formalise systems, simplify routine activities, create standardised reports, reduce repetitive compilation of data, and centralise the database and back-up for data security and disaster management. The skill level required to implement these products is much lesser, and many a time the implementation can be managed by the in-house IT team in conjunction with the product vendor.

ERP readiness is also dependent on the skills of the employees. A basic level of understanding and knowledge of the application is essential. Employees should have computer operating skills and understand their job functions properly. It is one thing that people generally resist change, and another thing that they do not have the ability to work with a new system and hence resist change. Some organisations fail in their ERP implementation since they don’t have the appropriate manpower to wield the application. The general mindset of the workforce should therefore be open and receptive.

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, so companies should adopt automation early. In this way, when they start growing in numbers in terms of sales, products, employees and other stakeholders, their systems are already in place to manage the growth and do not crack under pressure. Another thing about ERP is that you do not need too many people to manage it. Even if your organisation has just five people managing purchase, stores, production, accounts and administration, you can still work with ERP; the only thing that changes is the number of licences when there are more users. Most vendors design their products in such a manner that part of the package can be used while the rest of the modules can be implemented in a phased manner as and when required. Obviously, companies should evaluate their readiness level for ERP prior to introducing it. This ensures that resources are not wasted but are put to proper use. Gradual initiation of computerisation will ensure that people become more capable in managing the complexities of these systems. Legacy data has to be ported to the new application. Management of data is easier when the quantity is less. In a bigger and spread-out scenario, users will have to do a lot of backlog entries and testing before the system can be certified as functional. Readiness is a state of mind; the earlier you start the better since you have a head-start over the others.

While building a house if you try to get everything right at the beginning then it will remain only in its blueprint stage. There is lot of difference between conceptualisation and reality. It is always easier to build a simple basic house and then go about doing the enhancements and extensions. Then at least you will have a house of your own to live in. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “We are always getting ready to live, but never living.”

The author works with a pharma company as Business Systems Analyst. The views expressed here are her own and not necessarily those of her employer. She may be reached at ipbasu@rediffmail.com

Posted in eGovernance Projects around Country | Leave a Comment »

Securing e-Governance, digitally

Posted by egovindia on June 23, 2006

Securing e-Governance, digitally

As India adopts e-Governance with a vengeance, the need for digital security measures to protect vital data has come to the fore, says Faiz Askari.

In catering to the next level of security solutions for an IT environment, the industry has recognised a relatively more secure way—digital security.

Digital security in India

Nagendra Venkaswamy, Managing Director, India & SAARC, Juniper Networks says, “If we look at the e-Governance projects and the networks that are being rolled out for these, digital security seems to be paramount. In an e-Governance project, a substantial amount of documentation is being done like maintenance of land records, police records and so on. Each department functions independently and has its own set of transactions to undertake. Hence having security measures in each department is critical so that only authorised people get into the network and access the information.”

 "If we look at the e-Gov projects and the networks that are being rolled out, digital security seems to be paramount"

– Nagendra Venkaswamy
Managing Director, India & SAARC, Juniper Networks

However, in the enterprise space digital security is required for access of information by employees, partners and customers. Depending on the nature of information that needs to be shared, authentication is provided to enter the network and gain access.

Tanmoy Chakrabarty, Vice-president & Head, Global Government Industry Group, TCS explains, “The importance is high among industry and government, but the awareness is low. An understanding of the digital security technology and the need for its implementation is required for a safer and more secure IT environment in the country. Digital security solutions fit into the security requirements of IT projects of the government. Securing public data and ensuring security of the government Web sites are some applications where digital security solutions have been proven.”

Patrik Runald, Senior Security Specialist, F-Secure Security Response Lab says, “It’s moving along quite well, but in India where broadband penetration is growing at a rapid pace, it’s essential that the users are continuously reminded about security. The ‘bad guys’ on the Internet are always looking for new victims to send their malicious code and indulge in phishing. As users who have recently gone online are not as likely to be security-aware as their more experienced counterparts, they’re more vulnerable.”

According to Frost & Sullivan, digital security spend in India has been slow but steadily growing at 3.4 percent YOY. In FY 2005, overall digital security market was around $4.5 million. It is expected to grow at a faster pace in the coming years because of mandates from government organisations such as Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), Customs and Central Excise.

Dr T R Madan Mohan, Director, ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan informs, “With increased adoption of BS7799, CoBiT, ISO 17799 certification processes, security is moving beyond firewalls and anti-virus to digital content. Several companies have invested in digital certificates for safe messaging, workflow documentation, certificate authentication (such as contracts, educational certificates, credit rating), vendor orders, and employee certificates (experience certificates and so on).”

 "e-Governance is about improving service to citizens and making the system more responsive"

– Dr T R Madan Mohan,, Director, ICT Practice ,, Frost & Sullivan

Security and governance

Venkaswamy of Juniper says, “With the government finally adopting e-Governance, security has become a key issue that needs to be addressed. Like any other project, an e-Governance project also runs on a network, but the major difference is that in an e-Gov project considerable amount of critical information could be involved. Hence the need for securing such information. Technologies like PKIs (Public Key Infrastructure) and digital signatures are being adopted.”

Chakrabarty of TCS says, “The digital security solution is well known for its adaptiveness and acceptability in e-Governance projects worldwide. But in the Indian e-Gov scenario, the security aspects are not being taken as seriously. They are rather neglected. The decision-makers in the government prefer to compromise when it comes to high-end technology implementation. I think the officials themselves should take the initiative to understand the technology, examine its usability in their domain and implement it. Looking at the way e-Gov is moving in India, digital security has to be a critical factor.”

Runald of F Secure concurs that digital security is catching on in the government sector. He says, “It’s crucial for all aspects—from securing transactions to building trust. The users should have trust in the security systems, if not they will never use the e-Gov services.”

Mohan of Frost & Sullivan states, “e-Governance is about improving service to citizens and making the system more responsive. The government is the largest dispenser of certificates such as birth and death registration, motor vehicle licence, land records, and BPL cards all of which have legal and legislative nuances.”

Mohan explains, “Several state governments are discovering the value of digitisation of certification as that makes it easy to ship out and manage. Consider the e-Visa certificates which are being issued by several governments across the world in place of physical visa. Digitisation cuts down the lead-time (the average time reduced is six days), improves citizen service and enables better management of international visitors.”

He adds, “The government is aware of misuse of these records for personal gains and have adopted several initiatives such as deploying digital security, which is the best option available for securing this data.”

S Angiah, Business Development Manager, Adobe Systems India elaborates, “India is trying to catch up with the developed nations with regard to growth but there are issues like corruption and lack of infrastructure, which are hampering its plans. e-Gov could play an important role in getting rid of these problems. From October 18, 2000, transactions on the Internet have got legal validity in India, as the Information Technology Act 2000, has come into effect. This has ushered the country in an era of digital signatures. It allows people, at least on paper to conduct business with the government remotely, no matter where they are.”

Angiah adds, “Digital security is critical in e-Governance to safeguard the confidentiality of transactions and information on the network. Government documents and other important material have to be protected from unauthorised users in case of e-Governance projects. Hence, security is critical for their successful implementation.”

Some of the key areas where digital security applications are most required are defence, stock exchange, Ministry of Finance, Income Tax, administration (police etc), and land records.

The emerging technologies for e-Gov projects include PKI, digital signatures, biometrics and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

Runald of F-Secure says, “It is true that digital signatures will be dominating security infrastructure but the technology needs proper implementation. The trend is catching up in India. Digital signatures can be useful as long as they’re based on authentication, preferably through a smart card or some other physical device combined with a personal pin.”

Mohan of Frost & Sullivan believes, “an FIR is a key document in the judicial enquiry process and so are the land records. Technologies such as SSL, PKI, biometric maps are crucial for the success of e-Governance projects.”

Chakrabarty of TCS says, “PKIs and digital signatures are emerging trends. The MCA 21 (a project by the Ministry of Company Affairs) project is the first example in implementation of digital signatures at a higher level.”

Digital certification

In a span of about a year since the first digital certificate was launched, digital certificates gradually made their way into every possible business scenario. India’s leading software services firm Infosys uses digital certificates from SafeScrypt to sign and encrypt the top management’s e-mail.

Angiah of Adobe adds, “Even the government, usually reticent about adopting new technologies is jumping on the bandwagon by adopting digital certificates. For instance, the DGFT recently took a revolutionary step by mandating that all DGFT transactions would have digital signatures. As all EXIM notifications and public notices would be transmitted with digital signatures, the exporting community which applies for import/export licences will now be able to interact directly with DGFT on a secure electronic platform. That will facilitate paperless verification and processing. Similarly, educational institutions like the DoEACC (Department of Education for Accredited Computer Courses) and IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University) are using digital signatures for students to register online.”

He informs, “When digital certificates were first launched few industry analysts were optimistic about adoption, as India traditionally has been slow in adopting new technologies. But the above instances of adoption in diverse sectors prove that digital certificates are slowly but surely picking up in India.”

Apart from above, other security-related technologies are biometric recognition, content scrambling and steganography (digital watermarking).

Implementation

Mohan of Frost & Sullivan says, “Digital security products are required wherever ‘authenticity,’ ‘validity,’ and ‘legal rights’ of digital content have to be protected from repudiation. All digital content (applications) that need protection from tampering, vandalism, decay and accident need digital security.”

“The role of digital security is vital in every application which collects or stores data, interacts with an outsider, carries some confidential information and other applications. The best example of having most of such qualities and requirements are various e-Gov projects. Digital security can have a competitive edge when it comes to such requirements,” adds Chakrabarty of TCS.

Runald of F Secure says, “Security is needed everywhere, especially in applications or solutions that involve transactions that are online such as banking, shopping, gambling and gaming. All these services/applications handle money transactions whether it is through transferring money through the online bank or buying more credits on the online gaming site. Either way, they’re interesting targets for criminals. It may be either through phishing scams, trying to fool the users to give away financial and personal information or it may be through Distributed Denial of Service attacks against the online site itself in a blackmail attempt. Either way, online transactions and their users are at a higher risk of getting targeted by digital attacks.”

Future path

For today’s enterprises and government organisations, security is not about restricting access to business critical resources and applications. Strategic value is achieved by addressing some of the critical challenges like improving competitiveness, reducing operational risks and allowing ubiquitous access to various services without compromising on security or performance.

“The future for digital certificates looks bright because of mandates from government bodies such as customs. In fact, SafeScrypt, a Satyam subsidiary, witnessed significant increase in its revenue because of DGFT mandate on certificates. Advanced technologies such as biometric watermarking are mostly in an experimental stage in India; mass deployments are only expected to happen in 2008,” says Mohan of Frost & Sullivan.

He adds, “Traditionally security was viewed as protecting critical assets and resources from the outside world. This is no longer the case. Networks are no longer segmented on the basis of trust. You have to view this as a single untrusted network and then deploy appropriate checks and controls based on what resource/application is being accessed, when, from where and by whom. With the increasing adoption of the Internet for business use, connectivity is available anywhere. The challenge is to use this medium securely and allow access to all business users including vendors, suppliers and business partners.”

Also, today, organisations have to follow stringent statutory requirements and network security is important to meet these guidelines.

Runald of F Secure says, “India is definitely one of the key targets for online criminals, digital security is key for the growth of broadband usage. If not, the trust in Internet among the new users will fade and they may even avoid getting online at all. All ISPs and mobile operators are aware of the security problems though and are taking measures to make it better.”

Chakrabarty concludes, “State governments are in fact getting aggressive towards implementing digital signatures and other digital security applications.”

Posted in eGovernance Projects around Country | Leave a Comment »

Public-private participation in e-Governance

Posted by egovindia on June 23, 2006

Public-private participation in e-Governance

http://www.expresscomputeronline.com/20060626/management01.shtml

What couldn’t be achieved by public and private sector organisations separately is quite doable when they combine their forces to attack e-Governance problems. Chirasrota Jena reports.

e-Governance enhances the efficacy of citizen and government interaction. This has been made possible by public-private sector partnerships leading to the availability of more affordable and rugged PCs to suit operating conditions in the hinterland and deepening Internet penetration. With the realisation of e-Governance projects in India, the time has come to review the role of the public sector as well as private sector to speed up the process of implementation of different projects related to e-Governance.

Government agencies throughout the world are considering and conducting e-Governance initiatives with the help of private players; the scene in India is much the same. The development of network-based distributed systems that serve numerous and diverse constituents and improve the overall efficiency and functioning of government is a priority. Considering these requirements, private players such as IT vendors are extending their overall support to realise e-Governance projects for Indian citizens. Not just the central government, state governments are also actively participating in these projects. Today, most states in the country have drafted state-specific IT policies that are in various stages of implementation. The central government has also taken several initiatives to advance ICT usage across all government bodies as this will benefit the common man. These include the roll-out of the National eGovernance Plan (NeGP), the launch of Mission 2007, and the formation of e-Panchayats across the country.

The three Ps

As far as the e-Governance initiatives are concerned, the three Ps—Public-Private Partnership—say it all. This model requires less investment from the government.

States R Chandrashekhar, Joint Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of India, “We welcome private participation in fulfilling the e-Governance initiatives of the Government of India. But this participation can only happen at the front-end level since the government is handling all the back-end work. For example, in the case of ICT kiosks, any private party can do the setting-up of a kiosk, but to run that kiosk the government will provide all support.”

If we have a closer look at the various projects already implemented in India, as well as those at the pilot stage, then we get a clear idea of the PPP model. Some of the IT companies that have taken a pioneering role in e-Governance projects include Microsoft, Sun, IBM, TCS, HCL Infosystems and Adobe.

"Our e-Governance vision is to enable governments to lead the information society by leveraging information technology for delivering effective citizen-centric services"

– Rohit Kumar, Country Head, Public Sector, Microsoft India

Microsoft is working with 14 state governments in various projects across the country. Says Rohit Kumar, Country Head, Public Sector, Microsoft India, “Our e-Governance vision is to enable the public sector and governments to lead the information society by leveraging information technology for delivering effective citizen-centric services and ushering in a more participative and transparent form of governance. The public-private partnership is very important in the successful implementation of e-Governance projects.”

"Our Flash and Adobe readers, along with collaborative features, are freely downloadable so that ICT kiosks can provide an engaging experience for the user"


– S Angiah,, Business Development Manager,., India & SAARC,, Adobe Systems

According to S Angiah, Business Development Manager, India and SAARC, Adobe Systems, “Adobe has a unique advantage in the PPP model. More often than not, Adobe directly handles the pilot projects for the identified government department. We along with the particular government department then freeze the out-based project, after which it is the government that floats the tender seeking other vendors to bid, operate, transfer or own. Adobe’s value proposition is unique and very visible after the projects are undertaken.”

Projects powered by this model

There are various projects that have already been implemented by the Government of India and various state governments in association with private players. Notable ones are the Bhoomi project of the Karnataka state government, Community

 

 

Information Centres in the north-eastern states, AP Online, Kalyan Damodar Valley Project, CDFD Medical Bioinformatics Centre for Excellence in Hyderabad, and the Common Service Centres (CSCs). Chandrashekhar informs, “A lot of progress has been made in the area of e-procurement. This will again be an example of the PPP model in action. It will be a unique project, as well as large. This project requires a great deal of participation and the involvement of different ministries and departments. Things are moving forward in this initiative. The Central Vigilance Committee has recommended this project for bigger organisations and PSUs. In fact, online tenders are now a reality. Soon, entire government tenders will be available online.”

The SharePoint Portal Solution is poised to play a pivotal role in keeping with the e-Governance vision for greater transparency in public affairs and being local-language-enabled, since state governments are required to communicate with citizens in local languages. Kumar says that in the recent past Microsoft has witnessed great demand from government agencies across India to develop solutions that enable effective communication between elected governments and the public.

Some important projects in the pipeline are SUNKalp by Sun Microsystems, MCA-21 of the Ministry of Company Affairs (along with TCS), and the eCOP project of the Andhra Pradesh (AP) government (along with Sun). MCA-21 is the largest e-governance initiative by the Ministry of Company Affairs, and a mission project under the Government of India’s NeGP was formally launched on a pilot basis with a comprehensive online portal to enable e-filing. HCL Infosystems, as a single-window infrastructure provider, has participated in a number of e-Governance projects providing direct support infrastructure at 300 locations.

Elaborates Jaijit Bhattacharya, Country Director, Government Strategy, Sun Microsystems, “Though we have not participated in the MCA-21 projects, we are working on various e-Governance projects both with the central as well as state governments. Sun is helping AP build better police services with a state-wide data access network. As part of the Vision 2020 programme, eCOPS is an e-Governance initiative that empowers the law enforcement services of AP with real-time and seamless data flow. The focus of eCOPS is the computerisation of investigation activities and administration and support services across the state.” Sun is also working with the Haryana Government wherein its office productivity suite, StarOffice 7, will be adopted across the state government’s departments.”

The ICT kiosk project is at an advanced stage. Almost all private players are interested in participating in the ICT kiosk projects. Microsoft has already established 1,500 kiosks in rural areas in the last 18 months. “All ICT kiosks need a rich user interface. Our Flash and Adobe readers, along with collaborative features, are freely downloadable so that ICT kiosks can provide an engaging experience for the user,” comments Angiah.

Adds Sudhir Narang, Senior VP, Service Provider and Government, Cisco Systems India and SAARC, “As a part of the $5 million investment to support the NeGP, Cisco will establish CSCs in 100 villages in India. These will provide citizens online access to government services in rural areas. We will also establish Cisco Networking Academies (CNAs) to help address the shortfall of networking professionals in the country. To date there are 131 CNAs across 21 states and one union territory.”

Meanwhile, IBM provides service providers with citizen solutions that are based on open standards. It also works closely with NIC, CDAC and state nodal agencies to provide Web-based solutions in agriculture, panchayati raj, taxation and health to realise the concept of ICT kiosks. “In this project our goal is to establish 100,000 ICT kiosks covering India. Rural areas will be given higher consideration. In other words, one out of every six villages will have ICT kiosks. The implementation strategy of this initiative will be completely dependent on PPP. We plan to take on this project through block-wise coverage,” informs Chandrashekhar.

Better cooperation

When it comes to e-Governance projects, better cooperation is the need of the day both from public as well as private players. Says Narang, “Cisco is proud to collaborate with the Indian government in its endeavor to e-enable the country, which is an important step as India moves into the next phase of economic growth. From an implementation perspective, the response has been positive and reflects the government’s commitment.”

Many vendors spoke about the positive response they are getting from the different government departments with which they are working. Explains George Paul, Executive Vice-president, HCL Infosystems, “Unlike the common perception, we find that there are very dynamic and positive-spirited government officers with the vision and enthusiasm to implement e-governance in all aspects of their operations. We have seen them effectively adapt to these changes. The policy of the government is to invite participation both from the public and private sector—whoever is an expert in their respective fields.”

IBM has been working very closely with the central and state governments on many strategic projects that pertain to the complete range of e-governance solutions and requirements such as citizen-centric applications, business process re-engineered solutions, and enterprise computing. Observes Satish Kaushal, Country Manager, Government, Software Group, IBM India: “All IBM solutions are built on government needs, and are based on open standards and inter-operable platforms.”

Challenges ahead

However, the complex nature of our governance process as well as the unnecessary interference of some groups of people is creating problems for private players during the implementation of the projects. Opines Bhattacharya: “There is a need for further legislation for the smooth functioning as well as implementation of these projects. Banking facilities should be extended to each and every corner of the country. The Government of India is providing all-round support to private players like us. Affordable access to information infrastructure will play a critical role in India becoming a developed country…the government recognises that, and is committed to it.”

Developing standards is certainly a key component in any continued success. A lot of integration and the involvement of different bodies is required to design these standards. “We are aggressively working on this and have already formed five groups to develop these standards. An apex committee has also been formed at the Department of Information Technology. But we see that there is a long road ahead of us. All the projects have different concerns, and focus of their own. Example: some e-Gov projects have been initiated where storage is a top priority, while others have security as a major concern to address. Thus, each and every project is going to have its own strategy,” notes Chandrashekhar. Adds Kaushal, “The scale and complexity of solutions, and different states having different standards, are creating challenges for private players while working on these projects.”

According to Paul of HCL, “Every e-Governance roll-out is a learning opportunity. We go with a pre-conceived idea about the use of computers in metros, but the real world is quite different. Also, it is very encouraging to see the difference that these projects are able to make to the lives of people. Regional language computing is one of the challenges we face, but going forward the use of Unicode and multi-lingual software should be able to address these challenges effectively.”

The Indian government is taking greater cognisance of the benefits of technology across all government functions and state machinery. Over a period of time this pace of ICT adoption will increase exponentially and drive greater benefits to the common man. The full-fledged participation of governments as well as private players will definitely bring success to the various missions announced by different governments.

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eGov Projects in INDIA

Posted by egovindia on June 23, 2006

Name Type Initiator Region
Akshaya E-Governance Kerala State Department of Information Technology Southern India
AP online- One-stop-shop on the Internet E-Governance Govt. of Andhra Pradesh Southern India
AP Technology Services Ltd E-Governance Govt. of Andhra Pradesh Southern India
Arunachal Pradesh Community Information Centre E-Governance Central Government and State Governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura North Eastern India
Bhoomi E-Governance Govt. of Karnataka Southern India
CBI Website E-Governance Central Bureau of Investgation (CBI) Northern India
Chhattisgarh Infotech Promotion Society (CHiPS) E-Governance Chhattisgarh Infotech Promotion Society (CHiPS) Central India
Computer aided Administration of Registration Department (CARD) E-Governance Govt. of Andhra Pradesh Southern India
Computerized Panchayat in Belandur E-Governance Bellandur Gram Panchayat and Village Development Committee Southern India
Dairy Information System Kiosk (DISK) E-Governance National Dairy Development Board Western India
Delhi Slum Computer Kiosks project E-Governance Delhi State Department of Information Technology Northern India
e-Computerised Operations for Police Services : eCops E-Governance Govt. of Andhra Pradesh Southern India
e-Seva E-Governance Govt. of Andhra Pradesh Southern India
e-Srinkhala E-Governance Keltron Southern India
Flood monitoring by satellite pictures: Bihar E-Governance Government of Bihar Northern India
FRIENDS (Fast, Reliable, Instant, Efficient Network for the Disbursement of Services) E-Governance Kerala State Department of Information Technology Southern India
Fully Automated Services of Transport Department (FAST) E-Governance Govt. of Andhra Pradesh Southern India
Grameen Sanchar Sewak E-Governance Government of India National
GramSampark E-Governance Government of Madhya Pradesh Central India
Gyandoot E-Governance Gyandoot Samiti, District Council (Zilla Panchayat), District Planning Committee, Gyandoot Society. Central India
HeadStart E-Governance Government of Madhya Pradesh Central India
Himachal Buses: Transport Tracker E-Governance Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) Northern India
India Health Care Project E-Governance Govt. of Andhra Pradesh Southern India
Jan Mitra E-Governance Govt. of Rajasthan Western India
Khajane E-Governance Government of Karnataka Southern India
Krishi Marata Vahini E-Governance Govt. of Karnataka Southern India
Lok Mitra :Citizen-Government Interface in Himachal Pradesh E-Governance Govt. of Himachal Pradesh Northern India
Mahiti Shakti E-Governance Panchmahal District Collector Western India
Multi Purpose Household Survey (MPHS) E-Governance Govt. of Andhra Pradesh Southern India
Nai Disha: New Agent of Information – District level Integrated Services of Haryana for All E-Governance Govt. of Haryana Northern India
OLTP: Online Transaction Processing E-Governance Govt. of Andhra Pradesh Southern India
Punjab Government Online E-Governance Government of Punjab Northern India
Rural Development Network E-Governance Govt. of Kerala Southern India
Sampark 2003-04 E-Governance Income Tax Department, Government of India Northern India
Saukaryam E-Governance Govt. of Andhra Pradesh Southern India
SETU E-Governance State Government of Maharashtra Western India
Tambaram Municipality E-Governance Tambaram Municipality Southern India
Telemedicine – AP Govt and CARE Foundation E-Governance Govt. of Andhra Pradesh Southern India
Telemedicine Service in Pune Primary Health Centres E-Governance Pune District Administration Western India
VoGRAM E-Governance Indian Institute of Science Bangalore Southern India
VOICE: Vijayawada Online Information Centre E-Governance Govt. of Andhra Pradesh Southern India
Warana Wired Villages Project E-Governance NIC Western India

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