Assam to move fast on implementation of IT projects


Assam Chief Minister: "The e-district project will immensely benefit the citizens of the state in availing various government services at their doorstep through the Common Service Centres and Public Facilitation Centres”.


Guwahati , July 05: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi directed the Information Technology department to speedily implement all projects including the state-wide e- district project.

"The e-district project will immensely benefit the citizens of the state in availing various government services at their doorstep through the Common Service Centres and Public Facilitation Centres," the Chief Minister said while reviewing the progress of various projects and schemes of the IT department here today.

Mr. Gogoi also directed the IT Department to extend network connectivity to all blocks and circle offices in the state on a priority basis, an official spokesman said.

He also emphasized the need for transparency in government procurements through early initiation of the e- procurement project. Mr. Gogoi reviewed the progress made in implementation of the Secretariat Less Paper Office (SLPO) which is aimed at making online processing of files in the secretariat.

He also asked the officials to set up a mechanism for making the Pension and Treasury System completely electronic for the benefit of the citizens and old age pensioners.

He also lauded the initiative of the Department to set up a Cyber Tower in Guwahati to provide plug and play ready facilities for the IT/ITeS companies.

The Chief Minister suggested the setting up of an innovation fund for promoting research and innovation in educational institutions.


Source: PTI



 


e-Jaalakam: Taking e-Governance to the Masses

As part of its Platinum Jubilee Celebrations the Department of Economics, St. Teresa’s College launched a e-Jaalakam in June 2012 to increase awareness about e- Governance services among public in general and girls/ women in particular for promoting citizen’s participation in Governance.

e-Jaalakam is a Model e- Governance Literacy Project that aims to enhance the capacity of the public to access various online services of the Government. As part of its Platinum Jubilee Celebrations the Department of Economics, St. Teresa’s College launched a project in June 2012 to increase awareness about e- Governance services among public in general and girls/ women in particular for promoting citizen’s participation in Governance. In connection with this, a citizen’s handbook on e- Governance- Vivara Nidhi - and a student’s version – e Mithram- were designed.

Vivara Nidhi details various steps one has to follow to access online services such as downloading birth, marriage and death certificates, filing and tracking cases with Vanitha Commission, online tracking of case status in high courts and files in government offices, checking the status and updating of Aadhaar card, ration card, passport and payment of utility bills, taxes etc.

e-Mithram focuses on services of interest to students such as applying for entrance exams, checking of results, application for driving/duplicate license etc. It was introduced and distributed to around 12,000 students.

The project has developed other e- Governance learning tools They are: a) e-Jaalakam data bank which furnishes the hyperlink and briefs the services available in 60 Government websites. b) e-Jaalakam pamphlet which compiles the URLs of more than 100 useful websites. c) e-Mithram training module, which has tutorials of various e-Governance sites.

Positive spin offs of e-Jaalakam

In the first two phases of the project, the e-Jaalakam team has trained around 17 civic groups covering nearly 2000 persons. In phase III, it has imparted e- Governance literacy to around 12, 000 households through their children studying in class X in 86 Government and State aided schools in Ernakulam educational district. It has led to evolution of a citizen engagement group in the Department of Economics, St. Teresa’s College, which communicate the demands of citizens to the Government and functions as a citizen watch group. The project highlights the need for holding awareness sessions for the public for realisation of potential benefits of G2C initiatives. Three other e- Jaalakam chapters were created in higher educational institutions in the districts of Calicut, Kottayam and Alleppey.

Accolades for e-Jaalakam

The project has been currently shortlisted for Kerala State e- Governance awards 2011-13 and for Chief Minister’s award for Innovations in Public Service 2012-13. Citizens handbook -Vivara Nidhi has been included in the National e- Governance Division (Dept of Electronics and IT (Deity) Min of IT, Govt of India) portal’s knowledge repository section. Christ University, Bangalore and Villa Marie Education Society, Hyderabad are replicating the initiative in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Orissa, Haryana and Ahsraya project of Lakshwadweep have expressed interest in developing similar handbook. Center for Innovations in Public Systems (CIPS) Hyderabad, Administrative Training Institute in Karnataka and Haryana Institute of Public Administration, Gurgaon invited e-Jaalakam team for making presentations. Information Kerala Mission has offered to help in adding more services to the handbook. The project was exhibited at the 17th National Conference on e-Governance at Kochi .

Hurdles faced and the Strategies adopted

Lack of well defined content and choosing services that capture the interest of the public were the initial hurdles faced. It was solved by using a life cycle approach. Limited availability of government funds was overcome by tapping corporate social responsibility funds. A large part of the project has, thus, been funded by non-governmental sponsorship. Another challenge was that educational institutions generally confine their activities to campuses and staff and students do not have time for social causes. Here, we decided to leverage the emphasis given to Social Outreach Programmes by University Grants Commission and National Assessment and Accreditation Council.

Again, people tend to forget demonstrations if frequency of use is low. The solution was Vivara Nidhi and e- Mithram hand books which explain method of access in simple flowchart format. To capture and sustain interest of different age groups, different handbooks were designed for students.. Malayalam handbooks were designed for those who could not follow English. The option of free download of handbooks and pamphlets from the webpage of Department of Economics, St Teresa’s College and the Knowledge Repository of NeGD, India ensure wider public access. Soon, it will be loaded on the webpage of Kerala State IT Mission.

To accommodate frequent developments and modifications, the assistance of citizen watch groups will be sought. Linkage to the well established programme- IT@School Project, Government of Kerala and grooming of student master trainers in higher educational institutions in other districts would ensure scalability of the project. Long run sustainability of the project would depend on institutionalisation through inclusion in the IT syllabus of educational institutions. Kerala State IT Mission has been requested to include it in the syllabus of women resource centres existing in various colleges.

Since, the pilot project covering 12,000 school students in Ernakulam is completed, the next major challenge is to ensure further vertical scaling up to cover all high school students in Kerala and a horizontal reach out to cover a wider spectrum of population. A multipronged strategy is envisaged for the same.

Summing up

The wide acceptance of the project reflects a fundamental truth that simple ideas can have a huge impact if they have utility for human beings. The introduction of a handbook and other citizen engagement tools into a society, which is largely ignorant about the various e-Governance initiatives, created widespread public interest. The project simplifies the process of accessing e-Governance services thereby boosting citizen’s confidence. (In association with IT@School Project of Department of General Education, Government of Kerala and with technical support from State e-Governance Mission Team – Kerala and Kerala State IT Mission.)

By: DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS, ST. TERESA’S COLLEGE, ERNAKULAM, KERALA