New Delhi, September 22: A comprehensive telecom development plan will soon be executed in the Northeast to improve e-governance and empower citizens especially those from the marginalised sections, a top government official has said.
The objective is to use technology to improve lives of people while ensuring that they are able to access public services with ease, V Srinivas, Additional Secretary, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), said.
The initiative’s thrust will be on Artificial Intelligence, India enterprise architecture, interoperability framework for various e-governance systems and digital service standards, Srinivas told PTI in an interview.
The 1989-batch IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre had successfully organised the northeast region’s first conference on e-governance for administrative reforms last month in Shillong, Meghalaya under the leadership of Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Personnel and Pensions.
The national e-governance conference was held on August 19-20 and was attended by 545 delegates from 28 States/Union Territories and all the key ministries and industry representatives.
The historic Shillong Declaration which represents the roadmap forward for e-governance in the country was adopted at the two-day conference inaugurated by Singh.
The Shillong Declaration binds the government to improve connectivity in northeastern states by addressing issues of telecommunications connectivity at grass root level and formulating and implementing a comprehensive telecom development plan, Srinivas said.
Steps will be taken for enhancing activities of the electronics sector skill council in northeastern states and also to explore the possibility of opening an electronic skill development centre in Shillong, added Srinivas, who is also credited with employing technology to ease the AIIMS’ Out Patient Department services during his stint as the Deputy Director of the premiere institution in the national capital.
The Electronic Skill Centre would basically train youngsters from the northeast region in various e-governance modules and help them bag jobs in the sector.
However, as the project is at a nascent stage, not much information could be gathered from the skill development ministry.
Crediting administrative reforms for the successful implementation of several e-governance related projects like the National Scholarship Portal, Unified Mobile Application for New Age Governance (UMANG), digital payments at petrol stations etc., Srinivas said improvement of e-governance initiatives will ease the citizens’ approach to public services.
Another intervention is the commitment to improving the quality of delivery of e-services in northeast to fulfil the vision of improved citizen experience. Another interesting area is to adopt emerging technologies for finding e-governance solutions. A number of successfully implemented emerging technologies like drone mapping were presented in the Shillong Conference for replication in northeastern states, he said.
There has been a massive impetus given to e-governance reforms in the 100 days agenda of the Narendra Modi government.
Northeastern states on their own have tried to launch various initiatives in the field of e-governance, including a project in Nagaland which was cleared by NITI AYOG in 2018 but is yet to take off due to several political hurdles in the state.
With the Centre stepping in and taking keen interest, the objectives are likely to be achieved finally, he said.
Srinivas further said among the northeastern states, Assam and Nagaland were the top two performers in the area of e-governance.
The Assam State Portal is easy to use, has a lot of content and provides access to 35 Departments and 405 services. There are several online services like vehicle registration, e-payment of bills, patient registrations, applying for agriculture schemes etc, he said.
While Nagaland offers 5 sectors and 12 services online and needs to do much more, he added.
The other states in the region must focus on improving content availability on state portals and there is scope for improvement in the online services being offered, he said.
The DARPG is responsible for recognising excellence through the national e-governance awards and the dissemination and replication of knowledge management practices on e-governance, he said.
Aiming to improve administrative reforms, Srinivas said the DARPG has also sought to integrate both the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure for 2010 and 2012 to formulate the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure 2019 to provide a clear set of guidelines for creating faceless, paperless and cashless systems of governance.
On the United Nations e-services delivery assessment, India stands at 96th spot, he said, adding DARPG has undertaken the national e-services delivery assessment based on similar parameters to identify gaps and policy interventions where improvements are needed.
At this stage, India is in a position to implement complex e-governance projects in a time bound manner, put in place continuous monitoring and evaluation parameters and the institutional framework for coordination and sharing of resources/ information to leap frog into the higher echelons of Nations on the United Nations e-services delivery assessment in a short period of time, Srinivas said. (PTI)