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Governance in INDIA

Archive for October, 2006

Bihar panchayats set for e-governance

Posted by egovernance on October 31, 2006

Bihar panchayats set for e-governance

India NewsPatna, Oct 27 (IANS) Bihar has approved a proposal to introduce e-governance in all its 8,479 panchayats at a cost of Rs.252 million, state Cabinet Secretary A.K. Chauhan said Friday.

The proposal was approved late Thursday at a state cabinet meeting here, said the official.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and the Bihar State Electronics Development Corporation, a state-owned IT body, are to design the software for the e-governance project. The Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (ILFS) will monitor its implementation.

Under the project, panchayat information centres or panchayat portals called Vasudha Kendras will be set up. This will enable villagers to connect with the outside world and provide affordable and easy access to information about the government and its policies, said Chauhan.

He said the Vasudha Kendras would be connected to all state departments through the Internet and the government will provide computers and Internet connections at the panchayat level centre.

According to the plan, eight government departments, including the chief minister secretariat, will be linked to the State-wide Area Network (SWAN).

The project aims at establishing direct contact with villagers and making the functioning of the government more transparent.

“People will come to know the progress of developmental projects, their implementation, costs incurred and can seek redressal of their problems with the click of a mouse,” Chauhan said.

It was on the advice of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, during his visit to the state earlier this year, that the state took the e-governance project seriously.

Kalam had suggested that Bihar use e-governance as a tool for development and to ensure a corruption free administration.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s official residence is to be the main operational centre for e-governance.

A few months ago, top administrative officials and ministers were provided with laptops as part of the e-governance drive. Video-conferencing facility has also been set up in the state’s 38 district headquarters.

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Bihar to make the e-leap into IT age

Posted by egovernance on October 31, 2006

Patna, Oct 27 (IANS) Bihar, where once former chief minister Lalu Prasad saw IT as an elitist preoccupation, has approved a proposal to introduce e-governance in all its 8,479 panchayats at a huge cost of Rs.252 million (Rs25.2 crores).

http://www.teluguportal.net/modules/news/article.php?storyid=19184

But his successor government of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar approved a sweeping proposal late Thursday that will enable villagers to connect with the outside world and get easy information access, state Cabinet Secretary A.K. Chauhan said Friday.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and the Bihar State Electronics Development Corporation, a state-owned IT body, are to design the software for the e-governance project. The Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (ILFS) will monitor its implementation.

Under the project, panchayat information centres, or panchayat portals called Vasudha Kendras, will be set up. This will enable villagers to connect with the outside world and provide affordable and easy access to information about the government and its policies, said Chauhan.

He said the Vasudha Kendras would be connected to all state departments through the Internet and the government will provide computers and Internet connections at the panchayat level centre.

According to the plan, eight government departments, including the chief minister secretariat, will be linked to the State-wide Area Network (SWAN).

The project aims at establishing direct contact with villagers and making the functioning of the government more transparent.

“People will come to know the progress of developmental projects, their implementation, costs incurred and can seek redressal of their problems with the click of a mouse,” Chauhan said.

It was on the advice of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, during his visit to the state earlier this year, that the state took the e-governance project seriously.

Kalam had suggested that Bihar use e-governance as a tool for development and to ensure a corruption free administration.

The chief minister’s official residence is to be the main operational hub for e-governance.

A few months ago, top administrative officials and ministers were provided with laptops as part of the e-governance drive. Video-conferencing facility has also been set up in the state’s 38 district headquarters.

This was the same state where Lalu Prasad said famously not too many years ago that IT was a new-fangled concept and of no use to an agrarian state like Bihar.

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India’s Knoledge Commission recommend setting up web portals, GIS mapping for e-governance

Posted by egovernance on October 31, 2006

India’s Knoledge Commission recommend settingup web portals, GIS mapping for e-governance

 http://southasia.oneworld.net/article/view/141622/1/1893

The National Knowledge Commission will recommend setting up web portals on 10 topics and GIS mapping of the country, said Chairman, National Knowledge Commission, Sam Pitroda at an Open House Session organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry on Wednesday.

These 10 recommendations will be presented to the Government in 90 days and include setting up web portals on energy, environment, knowledge network, higher education, university reforms, intellectual property rights (IPR), agriculture, traditional knowledge, health information and issues related to plants, communicable disease and distance learning, he said.

The Commission focuses on five main issues that are access to knowledge, concept, knowledge creation, services and applications, he said. “We intend to modernize these as per the needs of the 21st century, education being one little subset with the main focus on knowledge as a broader prospect.”
Source: India Infoline
India’s foreign exchange reserves have risen to $150bn from $2bn in just two decades because it is seen as a knowledge powerhouse. “India is on a high peak of performance but the average is very low,” the Chairman said. Therefore, we should propose the right set of recommendations to the government and bring about the relevant changes.

Access to knowledge has eight focus areas – literacy, reservations, affirmatory programmes, libraries, languages, translation, network and portals, Mr. Pitroda said. “Each area is necessary to access and requires a lot of expertise at every stage,” he said.

The concept of knowledge involves focusing on primary education, secondary education, distance learning and university education, which is in turn a critical issue and requires consensus, Pitroda said.

The Chairman said knowledge creation involves issues relating to copyright, trademark, entrepreneurship and intellectual property rights. “We need people with expertise in both technical and modern areas in order to create a national knowledge network”.

Application of knowledge includes the fields of agriculture, health, small and medium industries and traditional knowledge, Pitroda said. A Foundation for Revitalization has been set up in Bangalore that will document a total of 12,000 indigenous medical plants, he said.

E-governance is the key focus area for the Commission, the Chairman said. It should therefore create standards for web-based services and deal with organizational issues.

The Commission has already taken a decision on the need for teaching English at an early stage in schools, Pitroda stated. “India can create half a million jobs in the area of translation.” The Commission needs public support and community involvement to understand and disseminate information Chairman & CEO, HCL Infosystems Ltd., Ajai Chowdhry said India should focus on the creation, application and dissemination of knowledge to excel in the fields of education, science and technology, industry, agriculture and e- governance. .

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Digi signs script a requiem for online frauds

Posted by egovernance on October 26, 2006

Digi signs script a requiem for online frauds
Priti Bajaj

Wednesday, October 25, 2006  22:24 IST

http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1060178

NEW DELHI: If cyber theft and online frauds are preventing you from taking the digital plunge, here’s the trustworthiness you are looking for — digital signatures.

With digital signatures, you can sign documents online and get the same authenticity as your signature on paper.

As the government moves towards the implementation of e-governance at various levels of functioning, authentication of information becomes a critical requirement. National Informatics Centre (NIC), a premier IT organisation of the Department of Information Technology, has been instrumental in promoting important e-governance applications like digital signature and providing the necessary platform for the same.

Digital Signature is analogous to the handwritten signatures and provides the same level of authenticity, integrity and non-repudiation.

It is intended to be unique to the individual and serve as a means to identify, authorise and validate. Digital signatures are created and verified using public key cryptography, which is based on the concept of a unique key pair — private key and public key.

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JNU all set to go `paperless’-E-governance project to be implemented by December this year

Posted by egovernance on October 26, 2006

JNU all set to go `paperless’

Mandira Nayar

http://www.hindu.com/2006/10/25/stories/2006102519390300.htm

E-governance project to be implemented by December this year

 

 

 

NEW DELHI: Students in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) here might be busy with preparations for the students’ union elections at the moment, but the administration is all set to make a sea change in “governance”. With the e-governance project — which has been in the pipeline for some time now — almost up and running, the campus will be almost paper-free by this coming December.

“We have hired Wipro to design the e-governance system. There were some changes to be made; otherwise the system would have been installed by September-end. Now all financial records, even hostel admissions, will be done electronically,” says JNU Vice-Chancellor B.B. Bhattacharya.

While the University will not be able to get rid of paper completely as the final financial statement will need to be signed by the Vice-Chancellor, the campus is making a good beginning.

Eliminating voluminous files and the constant back and forth movement of files between different departments, the e-governance system would certainly speed up and simplify this lengthy procedure.

“The people concerned will be issued an access code, so that all the files are not available to everyone. The progress in terms of reply will be sent through e-mail,” said Prof. Bhattacharya.

In an attempt to ensure that the system does not only work on “paper”, there has been some amount of decentralisation of power within the administration so that every financial decision is not referred back to the Vice-Chancellor.

“Financial powers have been decentralised to a certain extent at all levels. The respective departments have their own budgets and need not get every small purchase they make sanctioned by this office. All the heads of the departments or schools are then accountable for the purchase,” said Prof. Bhattacharya.

A similar system will apply to the hostel mess too. Usually bound by many procedures, the process of getting financial sanction to replace cutlery took quite long. But e-governance will now change that with the wardens being allowed to make purchases up to a limited amount.

Moreover, now all file notings and hostel admission forms will also be done through the system. This will make the functioning of the University more transparent.

Incidentally, e-governance is only one part of JNU’s major modernisation plan. Also on the cards are new classrooms, a hostel for girls, and modern laboratory equipment for science students.

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Graft and economic growth are incompatible

Posted by egovernance on October 26, 2006

Graft and economic growth are incompatible

http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=144374

India is perceived to be among the world’s most corrupt nations. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2005, India’s score was only 2.8 out of 10, and was positioned 88th out of 159 countries. India also fared poorly in the recently released Bribe Payers Index (BPI) 2006. On a scale of 0 to 10—‘rampant corruption’ to ‘no corruption’—India scored the lowest, 4.62, among the nations included in the survey.

Although the two indices consider different aspects of corruption, countries that rank low on the CPI fare badly on the BPI as well. According to the India Corruption Study 2005, an overwhelming majority attributed corruption to:

* The absence of transparency and accountability in governance.

* The lack of honest officials and acceptance of bribes as a way of life.

* The lack of corruption reporting mechanisms and weaknesses in the grievance redressal machinery.

* Inadequate training of government officials.

* Ineffective police and judiciary due to the lack of accountability.

* Criminalisation of politics.

Besides, the existing anti-corruption institutions are not effective as they are under the control of politicians; they lack real teeth; and do not have enough officers with impeccable integrity.

Corruption needs to be dealt with on three fronts: firstly, petty corruption affecting the common man in dealings with public services; secondly, corruption in procurement and construction deals; and thirdly, the involvement of politicians in corruption.

Combating the first type, petty corruption, requires the introduction of transparency and accountability in governance and deterrent punitive action against erring officials. Transparency and accountability in governance can also be introduced through effective implementation of following measures:-

Citizens’ Charters: They promise certain standards on the basis of “Where to go; how to proceed”. Most of the currently available citizens’ charters have been formulated without consulting the concerned service seekers and do not have a penalty clause in case the promised standards of services are not adhered to. Further, there is poor awareness about their existence even among service providers themselves.

Right to Information: Though it is considered an exemplary initiative, people in general are dissatisfied with the functioning of the Central Information Commission (CIC), primarily due to the non-adherence to the principles of natural justice and failure to impose penalties. This has encouraged the bureaucracy to ignore RTI requests.

e-Governance: Corruption takes place the moment a service seeker faces the service provider. This measure avoids such a situation. Though the government is introducing e-governance in various services, the main problem is limited access to the Internet and awareness about measures taken so far. Besides, service providers are required to change their mindset, and make this service more user friendly.

Sincere efforts will be required on all these fronts to improve governance and create nationwide awareness about them. Besides, in order to tackle the issue of petty corruption in an effective manner, there is a need to clean the system by:

* Introducing transparency and accountability in governance

* Impounding illegally acquired assets.

* Recognising and rewarding skilled, efficient and honest officials.

* Removing the protection given to tainted government officials under Article 311.

* Removing weaknesses in the grievance redressal machinery, and providing adequate protection to whistle-blowers.

* Training government officials adequately.

* Disposing corruption cases quickly.

* Policing corruption effectively and beefing up the judiciary.

Besides, sincere efforts are required to give adequate publicity and create awareness about all these methods to improve governance. In addition, strong domestic anti-corruption measures are required to be translated consistently into responsible business practices in India. The World Bank and the regional development institutions can help by enforcing debarment programmes that block crooked companies from profiting from development funds, while the poor are left out of the picture. Moreover, corruption in procurement and construction deals can be dealt with by adopting Integrity Pacts (IP).

Though the defence ministry has mentioned IPs in its procurement policies for 2005-06 and 2006-07, it has yet to implement it. Similar arrangements are being considered by many PSUs.

However, it is felt that in India, strong domestic anti-corruption measures, including the adoption of IPs, are required to be made compulsory to curb scams.

These measures include a clear-cut policy on middlemen and the methodology to regulate their role, ratification of the UN Convention Against Corruption, commitment to the OECD Convention Against Bribery and enactment of an Act like US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977.

As far as political corruption is concerned, some well thought out measures can bring it down substantially. Some of the important steps that may be undertaken by the government include the enactment of a comprehensive Lok Pal legislation; barring criminal elements from politics as recommended by the Election Commission of India; impounding illegally acquired assets as recommended by the Law Commission.

Fighting corruption is not an end in itself. It is a critical path to providing opportunity; securing health, education, sanitation and basic services for the poor; and strengthening prospects for economic growth. Anti-corruption programmes need to be integrated fully into development strategies. They must involve the building of partnerships between civil society, the private sector, the legislative and executive branches of government. There is an apprehension that without effective anti-corruption strategies in the coming years, the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of those living in absolute poverty will not be achieved.

The writer is vice-chairman, Transparency International-India

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IT TRENDS- The Indian Summer of Linux

Posted by egovernance on October 26, 2006

IT TRENDS — The Indian Summer of Linux

ANAND PARTHASARATHY

The Indian Summer of Linux
Hindu, India – 7 hours ago
Mishra writes in the September 30 issue of CTO Forum that 18 of 28 Indian states have embraced Linux in some form or are running pilot egovernance schemes.  

The lack of a compelling desktop client version may stall the progress of Linux

 

 

 



THE LEADER: Dataquest’s annual survey of the Indian Industry suggested that Red Hat was the giant of the Linux space.

MOBILE PHONE in hand and Blackberry peeping out of a pocket, a penguin in a lounge suit is seen taking a call: “Hey, Yahoo, Disney’s on the other line. Call you back.” Below the illustration, the blurb on the cover of Information Week magazine reads: `Open-source software, led by Linux, is barrelling into big business….’

That was a year ago when major corporates from, Yahoo and Walt Disney to ABN Amro Bank and Continental Airlines, were in the news for having ditched their legacy computer systems and hitched their corporate wagons to the rising star of Open Source operating systems.

With the largest technology service and software companies — IBM, Oracle, SAP — now offering two parallel streams of application platform: proprietary and open, corporations around the world now have a real choice.

Fast growing markets

Stick with what has worked well for them in the past, or make a change to a newer, more `open’ environment, which seems to offer significant cost saving without sacrificing anything significant by way of security, speed or reliability.

In recent weeks attention has focused on rapidly growing markets in the developing world where the relative absence of legacy computing systems, makes the choice more interesting. India is on the radar of dozens of software service providers, waiting and watching, which way large spenders will jump. And the media has caught on to the excitement:

`Linux spreads its wings in India’ reported Business Week earlier this month, with Nandini Lakshman reporting that eight state governments here have put their treasury operations on Linux systems, while Maharashtra is fuelling its revamped health care system on Open Source systems.

Pankaj Mishra writes in the September 30 issue of CTO Forum that 18 of 28 Indian states have embraced Linux in some form or are running pilot e-governance schemes.

The `Open Source Symposium’ and Red Hat Developer Day on successive days in Bangalore last week, provided another opportunity to assess to what extent the Penguin’s Progress across India is the unstoppable march many watchers seem to suggest.

Dataquest‘s annual survey of the Indian Industry (July 15, 2006) suggested that the Linux market in India is around Rs 144 crore and that Red Hat was the giant of the Linux space garnering 95 per cent of the (distribution) pie while others included SuSe ( Novell), Debain and Knoppix.

What is often forgotten is the fact that the Linux flavour or distribution is merely the tail that wags the dog… in this case a large dog worth Rs 128 of the Rs 144 crore and accounting for support, training, services and consulting.

System integrators like Wipro, TCS, CMC, HCL and PCS have all discovered good business opportunities in building a layer of application on top of a distribution like Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Implicit message

Indeed, Iain Gray, Red Hat’s Senior Director for Global Support Services told development engineers at the Bangalore meet: “Altogether too much time is being spent on the infrastructure or the `middle’ layer, when it should be spent on the application layer, which drives profit instead of eating into them.”

The message was implicit: Let Linux fuel your infrastructure, while you drive the lucrative applications riding on top of this stable system.”

Neat. But when states like Kerala talk of migrating their entire school systems to Open Source — it is time to examine whether idealism (and ideology) is not perhaps clouding the logic of cool common sense.

The reason is simple: Open Source operating systems for the server-end of the enterprise — whether it is Red Hat or Suse or even the ubiquitous Java which Sun Microsystems is committed to make completely open-source by 2007 — are well evolved, with proven stability and security features.

Open Source at the client end — particularly on the consumer desktop — is at best, a `work in progress.’

Distribution leaders are the first to admit that their desktop Linux offerings are nowhere near as robust and user-friendly as the industry leader, Microsoft’s Windows.

PC and TV

Maybe that is why nearly 97 per cent of Indian desktops still run a version of Windows. The new version, Vista, that is expected in early 2007, will feature even closer integration between PC and TV; will call for even more seamless mating with a host of digital devices.

The right device drivers for every thing on this ever-growing list (and backward compatibility with last century’s dot matrix printers) … that is the true Achilles’ heel of desktop Linux.

“We are not yet there,” Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik told me three years ago when he visited India, “I don’t want to announce a desktop Linux unless our guys have got the user experience right.” They’re still not quite there, Red Hat’s India President and Managing Director Nandu Pradhan told me … but they are getting very close.

And more interestingly, he added, a lot of the work to create a user friendly, dummy-proof desktop Linux, not just in English but in Indian languages, is being done by the company’s Indian engineers in Bangalore.

When Kerala launched its path breaking Akshaya programme of e-literacy, it created Malayalam language tools tailored to run on Windows XP. When Open Source advocates and lay fans asked why the training was restricted to the Microsoft platform, the state’s Centre for Development of Imaging Technology (CDIT) was quick to replicate the same learning packages for a Linux PC.

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Punjab first state to implement national e-governance plan

Posted by egovernance on October 26, 2006

Punjab first state to implement national egovernance plan
Zee News, India – 21 hours ago
Moga, Oct 25: Punjab would be the first state in the country to begin implementation of the Centre’s national egovernance plan under the National Common

Punjab first state to implement national e-governance plan
 

Moga, Oct 25: Punjab would be the first state in the country to begin implementation of the Centre’s national e-governance plan under the National Common Service Centre (NCSC).

Under this programme, which was chalked out by the Union government, Punjab plans to set up 2500 common service centers across the state.

Out of these, 2112 centres will be set up in the rural areas while the rest will be in urban and semi-urban areas.

The project based on public-private partnership is slated to begin soon. Punjab Infotech will be the nodal agency for initiating the project in the state.

Giving details, Punjab Infotech Director N S Kalsi yesterday said here today that on the lines of the IT- Ministry guidelines, private parties or companies will be appointed for operating the common service centres in villages across the state. The private parties will be given the charge of managing of the centres, he added.

However, private parties will be roping in village level entrepreneurs (VLE) to facilitate the functioning and dissemination of service in the rural areas, specially in the border districts. The private companies would fund 66 per cent of the project, the government will put in 33 per cent funds and one per cent would come from the VLEs.

Bureau Report

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INDIATOGETHER.COM :: Reinventing Rural Governance Series: GOK Working Group

Posted by egovernance on October 26, 2006

Reinventing Rural Governance Series:

 

 

 Reinventing Rural Governance
The Government of Karnataka’s Working Group on Decentralization discusses transparency and accountability for rural self-governance in the state. The first in a series of articles adapted from the Working Group’s 2002 report.

http://www.indiatogether.com/2003/jan/gov-karpri01.htm

 

 

 Improving Accountability in Panchayati Raj
The Government of Karnataka’s Working Group on Decentralization discusses institutions for upward accountability in Panchayati Raj. The second in a series of articles adapted from the Working Group’s 2002 report

http://www.indiatogether.com/2003/jan/gov-karpri02.htm

 

 

 

For detailed recommendations made by the working group, visit this page.

http://kar.nic.in/rdpr/www_Eng/decentralization/index.htm

 

INDEX

CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER II PEOPLE’S PARTICIPATION IN PANCHAYAT RAJ INSTITUTIONS
CHAPTER III TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN DECISION MAKING
CHAPTER IV DEFINING THE ROLES OF EACH PANCHAYATI RAJ TIER
CHAPTER V DECENTRALISED PLANNING BY PANCHAYAT RAJ INSTITUTIONS
CHAPTER VI FISCAL DECENTRALISATION FOR EFFECTIVE PLANNING
CHAPTER VII ADMINISTRATIVE DECENTRALISATION FOR EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING
CHAPTER VIII CAPACITY BUILDING OF THE PEOPLE, THEIR REPRESENTATIVES AND OFFICIALS
CHAPTER IX SEQUENCING REFORM
ANNEXURE 1 PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO ACTS AND RULES
ANNEXURE 2 ACTIVITY MAPPING OF PRIS
ANNEXURE 3 TABLES OF SCHEMES

 

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Digital Society Foundation Set to work on Kyoto Protocol benefits to farmers in India

Posted by egovernance on October 23, 2006

Digital Society Foundation Set to work on Kyoto Protocol benefits to farmers in India

Source: http://www.bloggernews.net/1920
Digital Society Foundation (DSF) which marked its role in the history of Digital India by celebrating for the first time the “Digital Society Day” in India on October 17, has now set its sight on working in the area of bringing the benefits of the Kyoto Protocol to farmers in India.

Having recognized the need to build a harmonious physical society along with a prosperous digital society, DSF considers it essential for it to undertake activities that can be credited to the digital society but results in perceptible benefits to the physical society.

DSF has noted that in recent times the e-governance projects in India have not necessarily been perceived as beneficial to the people especially in the rural areas. This was reflected in two state governments in south India which could be credited for creditable e-governance projects becoming unpopular with the rural masses.

In order to reduce the perceived digital divide and also contribute to the prosperity of the rural farmers, DSF is undertaking steps to create farmer’s unions which can effectively take advantage of the Kyoto protocol on green house gas emission management and bring cash rewards to the farmers for their positive contribution to environmental health.

DSF is now in the process of establishing a think tank for the purpose and contacting other interested organizations in this regard so that further steps can be taken to educate the farmers and organize them in a manner suitable for harnessing the Kyoto Protocol benefits.

Naavi

Chairman, Digital Society Foundation

http://www.dsfoundation.in

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