Governance and Right To Information

Governance in INDIA

Archive for the ‘Govt. of INDIA’ Category

India can become knowledge superpower: Manmohan

Posted by egovernance on November 18, 2006

India can become knowledge superpower: Manmohan

HindustanTimes.com
New Delhi, November 17, 2006

http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/specials/leadership2006/coverage_17110605.shtml

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday voiced confidence that India can become a superpower in the knowledge industry.

India might not be a superpower in the traditional sense, but it can be a superpower in the world of knowledge, he said delivering his keynote address at the fourth Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on “India: Next Global Superpower?”.

Noting that India’s traditional export has been that of knowledge, Singh said “can this not be the power we seek?”

He said the empires of the future would be the empires of the mind and appealed to the leaders of the knowledge industry to work towards the goal.

Regretting that India had missed the industrial revolution because of neglect of modern science and technology in the 18th and 19th centuries, Singh asked people not to miss the new wave of industrialisation and make use of the available opportunities.

He said India’s goal should be to ensure a prosperous, secure and dignified future for its people and participate in a just world order.

Singh said India should aim at rule-based rather than power-based relationships.

In response to a question on passege of the passage of the bill on Indo-US civil nuclear deal in the US Senate, the Prime Minister said he welcome it. However, he noted that there was still a long way to go before the July 2005 agreement became a reality.

The Prime Minster expressed caution saying there were aspects in the bill passed by the Senate on Friday and another by the House of Representatives in July that were not identical and the differences needed to be reconciled. And given the American legislative process, this was bound to take a few weeks.

He said that he sincerely hoped the ideas and areas of mutual concern spelt out in the 123 agreement would be honoured.

To a question on how India could ensure it did not miss the next wave of industrialisation, Manmohan Singh said though much of the recent growth was being witnessed in the services and information and technology sectors, special emphasis would have to be laid on manufacturing, particularly labour intensive manufacturing.

The Prime Minister invited expatriate Indians to openly participate in infrastructure and manufacturing, sectors that were booming and offered newer opportunities. His remarks came in response to a question on how the NRIs could help India ride the next wave of industrialisation.

Earlier, the Prime Minister began his keynote address by saying India was committed to a better future for its people not because it wanted the superpower tag but because “we want to live in peace and dignity”

Posted in Govt. of INDIA | Leave a Comment »

Company Bill to be tabled in the Budget session

Posted by egovernance on November 16, 2006

Company Bill to be tabled in the Budget session

ENS ECONOMIC BUREAU

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/16399.html

Posted online: Saturday, November 11, 2006 at 0000 hrs http://www.indianexpress.com/printerFriendly/16399.html

 

Corporate law: Limited Liability Partnership Bill in coming winter session

New Delhi, November 10: The Ministry of Company Affairs will introduce the new Company Bill in Parliament in the budget session of 2007. Company Affairs Minister Prem Chand Gupta said, at a conference on corporate laws organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), that the ministry is giving final touches to the bill which has been comprehensively revised keeping in mind internationally accepted best practices.

The ministry has been told by various industry associations that the new law should absolve non-executive directors from the contentious Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act.

The ministry has also finalised the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) Bill which will be introduced in the ensuing winter session of the parliament. Gupta said that while the industry is looking at the Naresh Chandra committee for reforms, the ministry has gone a step further by allowing multi disciplinary LLP in the bill. Clarifying on the issue of foreign investment in LLP, Gupta said that one of the designated partners in LLP must be a resident Indian.

The ministry is also working towards operationalising competition commission at the earliest. The government has introduced amendments to the Competition Act after taking into consideration legal challenges and orders of the apex court on the issue.

“These amendments are under consideration of Standing Committee on Finance and we shall take the process forward immediately on receipt of the report,” he said.

The officials of the ministry will meet members of the Committee on November 16 to take the process forward.

Gupta expressed satisfaction by the progress made by e-filing by companies which was been made mandatory last month. “The MCA-21 e-governance project has had a smooth transition with 80 per cent of all filings by corporates from their virtual front offices. More than 400,000 documents have been filed electronically by now and around 18,000 companies have been incorporated on line,” Gupta said.

On the issue of ensuring uniformity on stamp duty across the country, Gupta said that the ministry can do little as it is a state subject. “There is not a single state, which is in a position to lower stamp duty because of revenue considerations,” he said.

States generate revenues by levying stamp duty for execution of various deeds, agreements and negotiable instrument including bills of exchange, and articles of association.

The rates of the stamp duties vary from one state to another and this does not comes under the purview of the union government, he said.

editor@expressindia.com

Posted in Govt. of INDIA | Leave a Comment »

e-governance key to making India corruption free: Kalam

Posted by egovernance on November 16, 2006

e-governance key to making India corruption free: Kalam

Nov 16, 2006, 10:30 GMT

http://news.monstersandcritics.com/india/article_1222679.php/

e-governance_key_to_making_India_corruption_free_Kalam

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Thursday emphasised the need for a sound e-governance system to ensure transparent administration and a corruption-free society.

‘All government programmes must consider citizens as privileged customers and become accountable for providing all services without interruption and hassles. One of the means to ensure this is by incorporation of a sound e-governance system,’ Kalam told a gathering of intelligence agencies and officials here.

Good governance is an important goal recognised by many countries and several nations have taken up specific initiatives for open government, Kalam told the ’16th Biennial Conference of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and State Anti-corruption Bureaux/Vigilance Bureaux-2006′.

‘There should be a conscious effort to put the citizens in the centre of focus of governance. Citizens should be perceived as customers and clients. e-governance has to be citizen friendly,’ he told the gathering of over 500 officers of CBI, intelligence agencies, paramilitary forces and representatives of state police forces.

‘e-governance should enable seamless access to information and seamless flow of information across the state and central government,’ he said.

Emphasising the need for better training of personnel, Kalam said that services like police, land administration, special services, municipal services and income tax were found to be the key problem areas.

‘Personnel working in these services should be specially trained to be citizen friendly and provided with reasonable housing and transportation, including empowerment in their work,’ said Kalam.

‘Personnel should be accountable for the services being provided to the citizens and also penalised for wrong decisions,’ Kalam added.

He stressed on corruption detection, fast police action and court proceedings with minimal adjournments leading to fast judgements and provisions to bring accountability into the system to make for a transparent society.

‘All these process should be completed within a prescribed time frame and all the pending cases of corruption, special crimes and economic offences should be cleared in a time bound manner by setting up special courts throughout the country,’ Kalam said.

Posted in Govt. of INDIA | Leave a Comment »

CENTER RELEASES RS. 5603 CRORE TO STATES UNDER NREGA

Posted by egovernance on October 11, 2006

CENTER RELEASES RS. 5603 CRORE TO STATES UNDER NREGA

RURAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER URGES STATES TO ENSURE STRICT VIGILANCE MECHANISM

http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=21225

Regional Performance Review Meeting was held today to review the programmes of the implementation of various rural development programmes of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry.

The performance of implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee ACT (NREGA), SGRY, SGSY, IAY, DRDA Administration, PMGSY, IWDP, DPAP and DPAP were specifically reviewed.

The implementation of NREG was reviewed extensively. So far, 3.5 crore people have got registered, against which job cards have been issued to 2.77 crore families. 1.24 crore people have demanded employment and employment has been provided to 1.21 crore people.

So far, Rs.5603 crore have been released to various States under NREGA. The total expenditure so far has been Rs.2595 crore. In the States under review, as against the release of Rs.824 crore to Andhra Pradesh, expenditure of Rs.165 crore has been reported. As against the release of Rs.41 crore to Gujarat, expenditure of Rs.27 crore has been reported. As against the release of Rs.113 crore to Karnataka, expenditure of Rs. 46 crore has been reported. Against the release of Rs.1166 crores to Madhya Pradesh, expenditure of Rs.835 crore has been reported. As against the release of Rs.179 crore to Maharashtra, the expenditure is yet to be reported. As against the release of Rs.98 crore to Tamil Nadu, expenditure of Rs.6.82 crore has been reported. As against the release of Rs.21.79 crore to Kerala, no expenditure has so far been reported.

Under NREGA so far, 3,39,219 works have been taken up out of which 1,10,000 works have been completed.

Water conservation and related works have been given top priority, which is evident from the enclosed statement.

The Minister of Rural Development has stressed upon the State Governments to ensure strict vigilance mechanism so that the muster rolls are properly maintained. people’s participation, accountability and fairness at all levels have been thrust upon. The States have been asked to see that the people willing to work should get work within the given timeframe and efforts should be made to see that the people get the requisite minimum wage.

Under SGRY, the implementation in almost all the States is going at satisfactory pace. So far, shortcomings in implementation of SGRY were focused. It has been highlighted that the States must utilize 22.5% meant for SC/ST individual beneficiary oriented scheme on priority. Under this scheme, they must also maintain muster rolls and approval of the action plan by PRIs on time has been highlighted. Habitations of SC/ST have been asked to be given due attention as per the laid down norms.

Under SGSY, more than 23.5 lakh SHGs have been formed, out of which 13.5 lakh SHGS have passed Grade-I and 6.5 lakh SHGs have passed Grade-II and 3.35 lakh groups have taken up economic activity. Hon’ble Minister has desired all the States to engage NGOs and facilitators in big way to see that by 11th Plan, every BPL family is brought under the SHG network. The Hon’ble Minister has asked details of zero or less than 25% lending branch. It was decided to send the letter to Ministry of Finance and RBI so as to take action against the defaulter branches. For effective coordination, it was impressed upon that the SLBC, SLCC, BLCC meetings are regularly held and this issue is regularly reviewed by the State Secretaries.

The implementation of Area Development Programmes have been discussed in length. The States have been asked to speed up the implementation of sanctioned projects as there are considerable delays in starting the projects. Considerable delays have also been noticed in completion of projects in the given timeframe.

Implementation of IWDP requires attention in the States of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil nadu. Mid-term evaluation of Hariyali projects are not being received from many of the States, which have also been highlighted. The system of online reporting of quarterly progress reports have been introduced and it has been discussed and desired to be put in place.

The Hon’ble Minister has highlighted that under the Area Development Programmes, apart from financial achievement, the States must henceforth report the outcome variables such as the area covered under plantation, number of water harvesting structures built, enhancement in the ground water level, employment generated, various other assets created, etc.

Under computerization of land records, satisfactory progress has been reported by various States. In the States of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, copies of computerized records of right are being issued to the farmers on a nominal payment of fee, which is generally Rs.10 to Rs.15 per copy. For the convenience of the farmers, apart from land details, copies of other relevant certificates such as income certificate, caste certificate, residential certificate, etc are now being delivered through this computerized system. The mandate of e-governance is thus being achieved in most of the States. The State of Kerala was lagging behind but now considerable progress has been achieved and the State has assured that within six months, computerization works shall be completed in all the villages.

The Ministry has asked the States to submit proposal for starting strengthening of revenue administration and updation of land records. The Ministry has been funding the State Governments under this programme.

Reviewing the performance of PMSGY, the Minister has highlighted that the States must ensure connectivity of 1000+ villages by year 2009-10 and those who have already connected 1000 + villages should now come down to cover more than 500+ population. So far, 97,000 km road have been built, which have provided connectivity to 27000 habitations across the country.

For the States under review, sufficient funds are being provided for every financial year. For the States of Andhra Pradesh, as against the allocation of Rs.950 crore since inception, projects worth 1632 works have been sanctioned. Rs.1011 crore has been released, Rs.978 crore have been utilized and 3594 km. roads have been constructed.

For the States of Gujarat, as against cumulative allocation of Rs.370 crore, project worth Rs.438 crore have been cleared. A sum of Rs.285 crore have been released and the expenditure is Rs.295 crore. 2416 km. of road length has been completed.

For the State of Karnataka, as against the allocation of Rs.685 crore, project worth Rs.759 crore have been sanctioned and an amount of Rs.506 crore has been released and expenditure is 421 crore. So far, 5067 km. road have been built.

For the State of Kerala, as against the cumulative allocation of Rs.150 crore, project worth Rs.196 crore have been cleared and a sum of Rs.121 crore have been released. Whereas the expenditure is only Rs.75 crore, Only 345 km. roads have been built. Kerala needs to improve under PMGSY.

For Madhya Pradesh, as against the allocation of Rs.2118 crore, projects worth Rs.5100 crore have been cleared. An amount of Rs.2324 crore has been released whereas the expenditure is 2200 crore. So far, 11300 km. road have been built.

For the State of Maharashtra, as against allocation of Rs.937 crore, projects worth Rs.1792 crore have been sanctioned and Rs.596 crore were released and the expenditure incurred is Rs.532 crore. 3500 km road have been constructed.

For Tamil Nadu, as against the allocation of Rs.570 crore, projects worth Rs.724 crore have been cleared and Rs.492 crore were released and the expenditure is Rs.374 crore. 3184 km. roads have been constructed.

Under Rural Housing, the programme has generally been found satisfactory in all the States. The States are implementing the scheme as per their target.

The States have been asked to ensure strict vigilance, people’s participation, transparency, accountability in implementation of the programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development.

AD/MLD/AM

 

Posted in Govt. of INDIA | 2 Comments »

PM urges for improved governance in states

Posted by egovernance on September 28, 2006

PM urges for improved governance in states

http://www.ndtv.com/morenews/showmorestory.asp?slug=PM+urges+for+improved+governance+in+states&id=

93921&category=National
PM urges for improved governance in statesThursday, September 28, 2006 (Chandigarh):

Asking states to lay special focus on improving the quality of governance, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has advised them to promote e-governance.

“E-governance can make governments more citizen-friendly and business-friendly. I urge you to work on improving the governance in your states,” he said after inaugurating a PHDCCI-organised conclave of chief ministers.

In the final analysis, what will differentiate one state from another was the quality of governance, Singh noted.

“You will have to provide the necessary leadership and vision to ensure that government institutions perform better, attitudes change, and tax payers get their money’s worth,” he said.

Singh also said that Delhi and Chandigarh had taken interesting initiatives in taking public services to the common man through the use of IT and that such initiatives improve efficiency, transparency and customer satisfaction.

Singh asked the states to make investments in public sector more productive and make public services more efficient and effective.

Investment in people

“You have to invest in your people. While we in Delhi are providing a supportive policy environment, you will have to do much more to capitalise on emerging knowledge economy,” Singh said.

Stressing the need for better primary schools, Singh said, “You need more colleges, technical institutions, vocational training programmes and R&D centers. This is true for all the states.”

He said Chandigarh, for example, was moving towards competency tests and certification of graduates so that it can become an IT hub. “We need more such initiatives. I urge the chief ministers to pay special attention to human development challenge in the region,” the Prime Minister said.

Singh said that human resource has to be backed by top class infrastructure.

The Prime Minister asked the states to take advantage of National Urban Renewal Mission to change urban landscape and make cities modern and attractive.

He said new urban centers were needed. There was a lot each state could learn from another and cities in one state can serve the needs of people in neighboring states, Singh said adding that Haryana and UP had benefited from Delhi’s growth. (PTI)

Posted in Govt. of INDIA | Leave a Comment »

On Line Course from IIT – Let Education Flourish

Posted by egovernance on September 24, 2006

Please spread this information across your friends…………………… And make
the best use of this.

The IITs have taken up an initiative of starting online teaching and
thus have started offering course materials online for every
engineering stream.

-Many professors from all the IITs have provided course materials
for each chapter and each subject.

-One has to register at the link provided below and can access the
course material.

-Every Chapter has been described with diagrams and charts.

– Please spread this message to everyone, as many can benefit from
this program taken up by the government and IIT.

This is just a trial period going on and hence i request everyone to
register at the link given.

1] Go to http://nptel. iitm.ac.in

2] Click on Courses

3] Sign up as a NEW USER

4] And one can access any course material.

Please spread the word, so that this initiative benefits as many
students as possible.

Posted in Govt. of INDIA | Leave a Comment »

UNION CABINET APPROVES SETTING UP OF 100,000 RURAL COMMON SERVICES CENTRES

Posted by egovernance on September 23, 2006

UNION CABINET APPROVES SETTING UP OF 100,000 RURAL COMMON SERVICES CENTRES
http://www.mit. gov.in/csc/ MediaBrief. asp
Cabinet Approves Common Service Centres (CSCs)

http://www.pib.nic. in

PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
******

UNION CABINET APPROVES SETTING UP OF 100,000 RURAL COMMON SERVICES CENTRES

ONE LAKH CSCs TO COVER SIX LAKH VILLAGES

CSCs TO BE FRONT-END FOR PROVIDING RANGE OF GOVERNMENT SERVICES ON
`ANYTIME ANYWHERE’ BASIS

CENTRALISED INITIATIVE – IMPLEMENTATION DECENTRALISED

New Delhi , Bhadrapada 30, 1928
September 21, 2006

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for setting up of 100,000
rural Common Services Centers (CSC) across the country at a total cost
of Rs. 5742 crore. Of this, the Government of India’s outlay would be
Rs. 856 crore, and the State Governments’ share Rs 793 crore. The
balance amount of Rs 4093 crore is expected to come from the private
sector. The project is proposed to be implemented by the Department of
Information Technology through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).

The one lakh CSCs, are expected to give a boost to development by
helping to bridge the digital divide. The project is expected to
substantially extend the reach of digital services and economic
opportunities into the rural and remote areas of the country. The CSCs
are proposed to be rolled out in 18 months i.e by March 2008.

The CSC is a strategic cornerstone of the National e-Governance Plan
(NeGP), approved by the Government in May 2006, as part of its
commitment in the National Common Minimum Programme to introduce
e-governance on a massive scale. The Scheme is aimed at making all
government services accessible to the common man in his locality. CSC
is one of the three infrastructure pillars of e-governance which the
government is committed to building, to ensure “anytime anywhere” web
enabled delivery of government services. The other two pillars are the
State Wide Area Network Connectivity (SWAN), which has already been
approved by the Government at a total cost of Rs.3,334 crores, and
State Data Centres. The CSC will be the front-end for delivering a
range of government services, including those enabled through the 27
Mission-Mode Projects (MMPs) under the NeGP.

Under the project, the CSCs in one-lakh villages will be broadband
Internet enabled and would offer a basket of Government-to- Citizen
(G2C) and Business-to- Customer (B2C) services. The Government is
putting in place necessary arrangements to provide reliable broadband
connectivity (256 Kbps) up to the CSC level. The one lakh CSCs will
cater to six lakh villages in the country i.e. at least one CSC in a
cluster of six villages.

The CSCs would provide high quality and cost-effective video, voice
and data content and services, in the areas of e-governance,
education, health, telemedicine, entertainment as well as other
private services. A highlight of the CSCs is that it will offer
web-enabled e-governance services in rural areas, including
application forms, certificates, and utility payments such as
electricity, telephone and water bills . Other significant public and
private services that can be accessed through these centers would be
remote consulting for healthcare, e-enabled vocational training,
market and supply chain linkages, rural BPO, agricultural price and
weather information etc. The CSCs are thus envisaged to act as change
agents in accelerating integration of the rural masses into the
economic mainstream of the country.

While the project is a Central Scheme aimed at covering the whole
nation, its implementation is decentralized enabling entrepreneurship
to flourish locally. The Scheme creates a conducive environment for
the private sector and NGOs to play an active role in implementation
of the CSC Scheme, thereby becoming a partner of the government in the
development of rural India . The PPP model of the CSC scheme envisages
a 3-tier structure consisting of the CSC operator (called Village
Level Entrepreneur or VLE); the Service Centre Agency (SCA), that will
be responsible for a block of 200-500 CSCs; and a State Designated
Agency (SDA) identified by the State Government responsible for
managing the implementation over the entire State.

The CSCs are expected to create one lakh direct jobs and 2-3 lakh
additional indirect jobs. The scheme, when fully operational, will
help people enjoy higher disposable income achieved by reducing time
and costs in obtaining the government and private services, and
through enhanced employment opportunities available digitally.

Posted in Govt. of INDIA | 5 Comments »

Government alerted by the Home Ministry on Websites on Pvt Servers

Posted by egovernance on August 29, 2006

Government alerted by the Home Ministry

Websites on Pvt Servers

http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=72988

Press Trust of India
Posted online: Sunday, August 27, 2006 at 1142 hours IST
Updated: Sunday, August 27, 2006 at 1351 hours IST

CrimeWatch New Delhi, August 27, 2006: Central ministries and departments have been warned against hosting their official websites on servers owned by private companies, particularly those located outside the country.

This has been communicated by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, which feels that hosting on private servers poses a serious threat to websites.

Sources said the ministry has suggested that websites be put on servers of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and Education and Research Network (ERNET) or any other server owned by the Union or state governments.

The alert came in the wake of incidents of hackers breaking into government websites hosted on private servers.

Hackers not only deface websites, but also steal valuable data or even manipulate data or insert malicious content.

Cases of leakage of sensitive information from the National Security Council Secretariat have been reported recently.

Intelligence agencies do not rule out the possibility of hackers easily breaking into websites hosted on private servers or those located abroad as these servers do not spend much on upgrading their firewalls to prevent leakage of information on hacking.

Another reason behind the Home Ministry directive was that in case of information leak from a server hosted abroad, there are difficulties in investigating the case.

Posted in Govt. of INDIA | 1 Comment »

The Knowledge Advantage: What India Needs to Do

Posted by egovernance on August 26, 2006

COVER STORY:
The Knowledge Advantage: What India Needs to Do –
A Siliconeer report
All the hoopla over the hundreds and thousands of jobs created by back office work leaves Sam Pitroda unimpressed. This is just a drop in the bucket, he says. To really get ahead, India needs a total knowledge makeover, because knowledge is not just about education, it is about a whole lot of things. A Siliconeer exclusive interview with Sam Pitroda.

You have recently told the BBC Hindi service that India’s success with BPO has been overhyped. Why?

I think BPO has gotten a lot of publicity in India, outside India. Rightfully so, in one way, because it has created jobs in urban areas, in modernized sectors. But at the same time we have lost sight of the fact that it has created only a handful of jobs in a nation of a billion people. We need to create 10 million jobs every year and BPO has created 500,000 jobs, which is really a drop in the ocean. But it affects well-to-do families, urban families . . .

Sam Pitroda is the chairman of India’s National Knowledge Commission.

In fact that was something I was going to raise with you. Do you think that one of the reasons BPO has gotten this much attention is that the Indian audiovisual media, and perhaps to some degree the print media, has a habit of focusing obsessively on the metropolitan areas and tends to extrapolate from that and draw conclusions about entire India?
Absolutely. Because they see if they go to a club, they go to a friend’s house, they go to a wedding, and they all talk about “Oh, my son’s working in BPO,” “My brother-in-law’s cousin is working in a BPO.” (That’s) the ecosystem in which they live in, and pretty soon they lose sight of the fact that this is not really India.

Let’s talk about the Knowledge Commission that you happen to chair. Has the commission as a whole done any work on this?

The commission has not done work on BPO because it’s such a small piece of the puzzle. The commission is really first focused on e-governance.

Okay, let me rephrase that question. Give our readers a sense about the organization. It’s a bit odd. You are there, DSE sociologist Andre Beteille, a lot of distinguished, interesting people are there, but we do not know a whole lot about it.

So give a thumbnail sketch for our readers on why you people were brought together by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and what your general agenda is, what you are trying to do.
The idea was that what we tried to do 30 years ago to telecom, in mid-’80s, had far-reaching implications for India in the 20 years down the road. At that time when I talked about telecom revolution down the road in India, people used to laugh at us saying, “Look, India needs water, agriculture and why telecom, why IT, why software? Why computers?” My answer then was, “Look, I know how to deal with telecom, I don’t know how to deal with water, so let me do my telecom job. Because I believe telecom is an important part of transformation of India because it results in connectivity, networking, democratization, resource utilization.” IT telecom did transform India.

Twenty years down the road, Congress government came to power. A national advisory council headed by Sonia Gandhi — I was a member — was asked to look at science and technology and education. I spent some time, and based on that I felt that if you focus on knowledge today, 20 years down the road, you will see some significant change in India.

And knowledge is not about education, it is about a whole lot of things.

So I put together a presentation for the National Advisory Council, gave them a presentation, and then I talked to PM and PM liked the idea. And I am sure PM must have talked to other people as well. But immediately PM said, “Sam, we want to do this.” So I said, let’s wait for six months, do a little bit of thinking and I want to internalize the issue. So I spent six months reading, understanding, talking to people at Harvard, MIT, Japan, you know, looking at what everybody is doing.


The Knowledge Commission: Objectives


The overall task before the National Knowledge Commission is to take steps that will give India the ‘knowledge edge’ in the coming decades, i.e. to ensure that the country becomes a leader in the creation, application and dissemination of knowledge.

Creation of new knowledge principally depends on strengthening the education system, promoting domestic research and innovation in laboratories as well as at the grassroots level, and tapping foreign sources of knowledge through more open trading regimes, foreign investment and technology licensing.

Application of knowledge will primarily target the sectors of health, agriculture, government and industry. This involves diverse priorities like using traditional knowledge in agriculture, encouraging innovation in industry and agriculture, and building a strong e-governance framework for public services.

Dissemination of knowledge focuses on ensuring universal elementary education, especially for girls and other traditionally disadvantaged groups; creating a culture of lifelong learning, especially for skilled workers; taking steps to boost literacy levels; and using Information and Communication Technology to enhance standards in education and widely disseminate easily accessible knowledge that is useful to the public.
(Source: Knowledge Commission Web site)

You say that knowledge is not the same as education. Would you elaborate on that?

You see, when you look at education, it is one piece of the puzzle. To me there are five aspects of knowledge. One is access to knowledge. Who has access to knowledge? How do you get access to knowledge? In access, we are looking at things like reservations, affirmative action programs, libraries, networks, portals to really improve access to knowledge for large number of people where they are all over in multiple languages.

Then second piece is: Knowledge concepts, which is basically education. Primary education, secondary education, university, distance learning, vocational training, all of that. Third piece is creation of knowledge. Where is knowledge created? In science and technology laboratories, in research activities. So that piece also includes intellectual property, copyright, trademark, innovation, entrepreneurship. Fourth piece is application of knowledge. How is knowledge applied? Where do you apply knowledge? Application in agriculture, application in industry and application in health. And fifth piece is knowledge-related services. How knowledge can transform governance. We have really not looked at transforming governance in the last 60 years. We have made incremental changes here and there. If you focus on e-governance, you can really begin to look at transformation of government in a very different way.

Take for example, how do you get a birth certificate? Or land records? An issue of perennial fights and arguments.

Absolutely. You know, all these processes are set up 70-80 years ago in British period, and today we are computerizing those processes. So Knowledge Commission has looked and said: “We need to really first redo the processes.” In other words, we really need to restructure the processes before we computerize. Today, we have to redo the process of getting land record, process of getting birth certificate, process of applying for admission to a school instead of doing it the same way we have been doing for the past 80 years.

So going back to the earlier question: There are really five areas of knowledge. Access, concept, creation, application and services.

So we are looking at knowledge horizontally, also vertically. We are also looking at traditional knowledge. We have set up this group of eight prominent people, they have different backgrounds, different sort of experiences. In first couple of meeting (we were) getting to know each other, we all have to click, and see the problem the same way. Then we decided to focus on something like 100 different activities, of which, we said: “Look, we can do only limited things.” So let’s focus on 20 for the first year. Now we are focused on 20 activities. We have set up some working groups, we had some meetings. First was really e-governance. We have submitted our recommendations to the prime minister on e-governance, very different from the way we are doing it today.


The Knowledge Commission: Members


Sam Pitroda, chairman of the Knowledge Commission, has spent four decades in the world of telecommunications helping bridge the global communications divide. His professional career has been divided between the three continents of North America, Asia and Europe.

Widely regarded as the architect of modern biology and biotechnology in India, Dr. P.M. Bhargava, vice chairman of the Knowledge Commission, is currently chairman of The Medically Aware and Responsible Citizens of Hyderabad, the Sambhavna Trust, Bhopal, and the Basic Research, Education and Development Society, New Delhi.

Dr. André Béteille is professor emeritus of sociology in the University of Delhi. He is known world-wide for his contribution to the comparative study of social inequality. He has lectured in many universities and is a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Dr Ashok Ganguly is currently the chairman of ICICI OneSource Limited and ABP Pvt Ltd., and has been a director on the central board of the Reserve Bank of India, since November 2000. In addition, he heads his own consulting company, Technology Network India Pvt Ltd.

Dr. Jayati Ghosh is professor of economics and currently also chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her research interests include globalization, international trade and finance, employment patterns in developing countries, macroeconomic policy, and issues related to gender and development.

Deepak Nayyar is professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Earlier he has taught economics at the University of Oxford, the University of Sussex and the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata. Until recently, he was vice chancellor of the University of Delhi.

One of the founders of Infosys Technologies Ltd., Nandan M. Nilekani is currently its Chief Executive Officer. In the past he has also been its Managing Director, President and Chief Operating Officer. Nilekani co-founded India’s National Association of Software and Service Companies.

Dr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta is president and chief executive, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. He was previously professor of government at Harvard University and associate professor of government and of social studies at Harvard.
(Source: Knowledge Commission Web site)

Obviously you can’t detail the entire set of recommendations. But can you tell us one or two salient things that you recommended?

One suggestion is that we really need to focus on reengineering of processes before we computerize.

What do you mean by that?

What we mean by that is the current practice is to take the existing process and computerize. How do you file income tax? They are taking how you file income tax and then computerizing it, rather than saying that the process of filing income tax is wrong. If you had to redo in 2006, how would you redo it? So process reengineering is a prerequisite to computerization.

Then standardization. Today every state is doing their own thing. Karnataka is doing something, Andhra Pradesh is doing something else. We are saying, “Look, that is not acceptable. We must have some standards.” Why should birth certificates be different in every state? It could be different in language, but it should look alike. It should be Indian birth certificate.

We are doing our police records (differently). One state cannot read another state’s police record. One district cannot read another district’s police record.

So we are really attacking a problem in a very different way. Like standardization.

Then, Web-based services. Every state today is doing their work in letter-driven approach. We are saying you can’t do that, we should have a federal Web-based service.

Today, everybody is doing their own thing, and lot of this stuff is not viable because there is no business model.

We have done I think a reasonably good job — (Infosys CEO) Nandan Nilekani has spent a lot of time, I spent a lot of time, and we have basically accepted recommendations.

Reservations are a political minefield. How do you propose to navigate in this dangerous territory?

Let’s do one thing at a time. We know that we can’t do everything.

So first we have taken e-governance. Now we are taking university reforms, because our universities are in a mess. A country of a billion people cannot have 300 universities, you want 2,000 universities. We can’t have affiliated colleges, we can’t have same level of standardization university. We need different levels of universities — good universities, very good universities and okay universities. We need different pay scales. We have done a lot of work on university reforms. We will be submitting that in next few weeks.

Then we have started working groups on translation. We believe translation is a multi-billion dollar business in India, which we have not really focused on. You know, I don’t know good literature in Tamil or Gujarati, good literature in Bengali or Malayalam. We haven’t done that. We only translate English stuff.

Then we have working groups on traditional knowledge, on distance learning, on vocational training, on innovations. So we have lots of groups set up, we have meetings going on, we have talked to industry, we have started consultation process, we’ve met with the members of Parliament, all that process has started.

You are based in Illinois. Mr. Nilekani, presumably, is based in Bangalore. How do you work?

We are working through networking and all, because all these people have full-time jobs, and we wanted to make sure that people who have full-time jobs get involved in it and do not take this as a full time job, because I don’t want this to be a bureaucratic office. Nobody takes salary, everybody pays their own staff. There are ten bright guys who are helping us to coordinate our work. They are in Delhi. They are paid. It’s a contract, not a full-time government service. It’s a three-year contract.

We want our freedom to be able to say things and I insisted that we don’t want bureaucratic network, we don’t want IAS officers. We want to do it differently. We do networking. We are all doing our thing. We come together every two-three months, spend three full days.

Let me just give you the key areas that we are attacking. E governance, university reform, vocational training, distance learning, primary education, literacy, innovations, translations, libraries, networks, portals — we will have a national portal on water. Energy, education, environment. These are some of the areas we are focused on. And we want really generational transformation in these areas.

How is your focus going to change the current skewed media focus on BPO and outsourcing and the metropolitan cities?

First of all, we need the support of people like you. We need many more young, enlightened, journalists to really bring what we are doing (do the public).

Here’s the thing that bothers me. I am all for changing the license raj, and bringing in the market to serve Indian society where it can. But my real worry is that what we are seeing increasingly in India is essentially a class divide where elites in the metropolitan cities are enjoying the fruits and the media exercise has become a sort of insular navel-gazing where the privileged pay themselves huge salaries and they say everything is hunky dory. Yet vast swathes of India outside the metropolises have remained virtually untouched.

I buy that. I am all with you, I subscribe to your views. I am very concerned about water, literacy, health, rural development. All I am saying is that I want to take that knowledge and make sure that people really transform our quality of life.

Something as simple and stark as the digital divide is a cause for enormous concern. For all the strides in IT, capability of using vernacular Indian languages on the computer remains appalling. Yet nobody is talking about that.

Digital divide is not just a divide of computers, it’s also a divide of literacy. The divide is the divide in education, health, malaria research, it’s not about just computers.

One final question before we wrap up. From what I hear from you, it seems that what your team is doing is not only crafting an independent way of determining India’s knowledge needs, but also along the way creating a separate and independent model of addressing large public policy issues. Is that a fair way of putting it?

Absolutely. To me this is the lifetime job.

More information and contact email, addresses and phone numbers are available at the Knowledge Commission Web site at www.knowledgecommission.org.

– Sam Pitroda is the chairman of India’s National Knowledge Commission.

Posted in Govt. of INDIA | 1 Comment »

Firewall: No pvt servers for Govt websites

Posted by egovernance on August 25, 2006

Firewall: No pvt servers for Govt websites

Archis Mohan

New Delhi, August 25, 2006

http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1777143,0008.htm

The government wants to firewall hackers. The ministry of home affairs has alerted Union ministries and departments not to host their official websites on servers owned by private companies. They have been barred from hosting their websites on servers outside India.

According to the communication from the office of MHA’s joint secretary (internal security), no government website should be hosted particularly on servers not located in India “as it poses a severe threat to the website”.

The MHA has specifically asked ministries and departments to put up their websites on National Informatics Centre (NIC), Education and Research Network (ERNET) or any other server owned by the Union or state governments.

There have been incidents of hackers breaking into government websites hosted on private servers in the past. Recent cases of leakage of sensitive information from the National Security Council Secretariat have alerted the MHA to the risks of sensitive information being leaked through websites.

Intelligence agencies fear that hackers may break into websites hosted on private servers or servers located abroad much more easily, for these servers at times do not spend much on upgrading their firewalls. The systems administrator may also have little interest in going the extra mile to protect leakage of information. In case of information leak from a server hosted abroad, there are difficulties in investigating the case.

Hackers are known not only to deface websites, which can hurt the image of an organization, but also steal valuable data or even manipulate data or insert malicious content.

The ministry has asked all departments to consult the guidelines issued by the CERT-In. The guidelines detail how organisations can frustrate hackers by installing routers, firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention system and adopt advanced security coding practices.

The guidelines also advise about precautions to be taken in case of third party hosting — the server should be located in India, hosting organisation should have a security policy, which is regularly audited by CERT-In experts.

Posted in Govt. of INDIA | Leave a Comment »