The pervasive theme this year was clearly that of 'Maximum Governance, Minimum Government' and the jury was happy to learn that all the states, which had sent in their nominations, stood firmly behind this talisman. The states sent in their entries under a variety of classifications. These were Health, Finance, e-Governance, Transport, Agriculture & Rural Development, Governance, Municipalities and Education.
Gurgaon will be a Smart City in addition to Karnal and Faridabad. May be, we will not get the financial assistance from the Centre meant under the Smart City Mission, we will develop it from the state funds. The Central government will provide the technical assistance in the first phase. Considering the population of the state only two cities had to be chosen from Haryana in the list of 100 Smart Cities to be developed with the Central government assistance across the country.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked, in January this year, the question, "India is a $2 trillion economy today. Can we not dream of an India with a $20 trillion economy?", he was echoing a powerful, nuanced and intensely compelling set of questions. Some among them-ranging from ease-of-doing business, innovation, digital economy, manufacturing, entrepreneurship to skilled workforce-are all too familiar.
Poverty remains one of the most pressing challenges facing the country today. But why are the people poor? Why are able-bodied working age group people poor? Old people, disabled people, that's different.
Under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), India along with other developing countries, has committed to eradicate extreme poverty. The deadline to achieve the goal is 31st December 2015. However, according to a recent United Nations report, nearly 300 million people still live in extreme poverty in India and face deprivation in terms of access to basic services, including education, health, water and sanitation.
The Indian economy is predominantly cash-driven with only 5 per cent of the country's Personal Consumption Expenditure done electronically. This shows that there is a huge unexplored market for payment companies. It will require all players across the payments value chain to create much greater innovation in payment services.
In India, we are encountering a unique situation. We decide on what technologies to be used without sometimes having a clarity on what are the services that we intend to deliver. It is dichotomous. Isn't it? It is my long-held belief that, it is government's job to define services and leave the technology choices to the market forces.
"We should not make technology choices nor specify technology, rather specify services. It does not matter which technology powers up the services," said Ram Sewak Sharma, Secretary, Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY). He said this while stressing that the ambitious Rs 113,000 crore Digital India plan will require a lot to be done and undone when it comes to making technology choices, its procurement and implementation across the government system. This emanates from an increasing realisation in the government that the time has come to focus on delivery of services and leave the choice of technology to the market forces.