Making Digital India Deliver

L to R: Sameer Kochhar, Chairman, Skoch Group; Neelam Dhawan, MD, HP India; Rajendra Kumar, Joint Secretary, DeitY; Karan Bajwa, MD, Microsoft Corporation (India)

Emphasising on the need for more clarity on the programme, Sameer Kochhar, Chairman, Skoch Group, said: “We don’t find any clarity on how Digital India is different from the NeGP I & II. While Modiji has made a clarion call for transformation through Digital India, the plan needs to get in sync with these transformational objectives.” He was speaking at 38th Skoch Summit that deliberated on digital India focused on improving citizen-government interface and making governance efficient and transparent.

The conference recommended a re-look at the NOFN project in which the country seems to have little faith. USOF funds could be better utilised in delivering a select list of services in the shortest possible time using whatever technology is available. Gujarat, did not wait for the fibre network but instead went in for satellite communication way back in 2003. Harpreet Singh, Secretary-IT, Government of Telangana said “Telangana is going to follow the Gujarat model of Satcom for immediate connectivity.”

It also recommended that CSCs are only a small part of the solutions. The sector should be opened up to multimodal delivery including self-service, mobile-governance, cooperatives etc. The need for licensing a centre to deliver government service is passé and free market forces should be allowed to operate. The importance of using Panchayati Raj Institutions for services delivery or supervision of the same was also underlined. e-Gram model of Gujarat has emerged as a best practice in this regard. Similarly, there is no need for every state to have a data centre and SWAN.

The Skoch Group, some time ago, had made comprehensive suggestions to DeitY on how to make MyGov portal a better tool for participatory democracy. A senior DietY official informed that all the suggestions were being implemented, adding a few more features.

The issue of appointment of CIOs and CTOs was also raised. While it is a welcome step, it was felt that it can be a double-edged sword. Unless clear functional definition is made, these can soon degenerate into technology procurement officers. It was also felt that India has to compete with other countries on technology and hence we cannot afford to be dogmatic or monogamous about technology choices. All technologies have to be encouraged and a level playing field is required for innovation to bloom. Proper checks and balances must be created to ensure this.

“The goal of the government should be to digitally empower at least one person in every household. This will create the capacity on the ground that will make the vision of Digital India a reality,” said Karan Bajwa, Managing Director, Microsoft Corp (India). He emphasised on the need for creating a digital identity for every citizens. “It will allow us to uniformly engage with multiple government agencies and departments without hassle.”

HP India Managing Director, Neelam Dhawan said improving the citizen’s interface with the government should be the focus of Digital India initiative. “What do we want to achieve in Digital India? It’s all about government to citizen interface and how citizens have a transparent access to government,” she elaborated. The summit was participated by states, centre and domain experts.

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