Monday, October 10, 2011

Principal Secretary e-Governance Shri MN Vidyashankar's interview by

Karnataka has been leading the way in terms of IT software and hardware exports. It has taken a huge leap in e-governance initiatives also and  M. N. Vidyashankar, Principal Secretary, Department of IT, BT and S&T, Government of Karnataka elaborates on the efforts that the state has put in.

Q: Karnataka is one among the few states which has shown proper reciprocation to e-governance call. How would you rate the state’s response to e-governance?


Karnataka ranked as the “Leader in e-Readiness in the country” by the Department of Information Technology, Government of India. We have several successful e-governance projects which have potential to be replicated in other states. Namely:

Bhoomi : Bhoomi (meaning land) is the project of on-line delivery and management of land records in Karnataka. It provides transparency in land records management with better citizen services and takes discretion away from civil servants at operational levels.

BHOOMI has been operationalised throughout the state. Under BHOOMI 20 million records of land ownership of 6.7 million farmers are computerized in the state.

BHOOMI has reduced the discretion of public officials by introducing provisions for recording a mutation request online. Farmers can now access the database and are empowered to follow up. Now, mutation requests are being handled strictly on a first-come-first-served basis eliminating preferential treatment and discretionary powers of the civil servants.

The new system has brought about a sea change in the way land records are maintained and administered in the state. The system has not only simplified the process of record keeping but has also provided many collateral benefits. This governance model has proven to be financially self-sustainable. It has become a trend setter for e-Governance projects in the state as well as other parts of the country. Bhoomi Project has won many national and international awards.

Nemmadi Rural Telecentre Project: The objective of the Nemmadi project is to empower rural citizens, provide direct access of government services to the citizens and bring government services to the doorstep of the citizen, thereby bridging the digital divide.

Prior to the establishment of Tele Centers, the citizens had to travel all the way to Taluka and District offices to obtain various G2C services, like copies of Land records, Income certificates, Caste Certificates, Birth and Death certificates, Social security scheme certificates, etc. The archaic manual system was unable to meet citizen expectations. A citizen had to put up with time delays, lack of transparency and misuse of discretionary powers by the officials. More importantly, the integrity of created data was in doubt. With the establishment of Nemmadi Tele centres, service delivery has become efficient, transparent and accountable.
This project has won many awards such as Oscar of Asia’s public sector IT, 2007 - by Govt. Technology award in Phuket (Thailand), Microsoft e-Governance award, 2007 -  by Microsoft , National award for e-Governance, 2008 -by Dept. of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (India).

e-Procurement Project: The State Government is making all its procurements through the electronic mode, transparently under this project. Even though it started in six establishments on a pilot basis, this scheme, during the last two and half years, has been extended to 86 departments by the end of November, 2010. Procurement to the tune of Rs.80,000 crores has made through this platform. As the platform has encouraged a highly competitive spirit among the bidders, number of participants increased, resulting in savings of more than 10%, resulting in savings to the State exchequer to the tune of Rs. 4,700 crores.  Being a web based solution, anybody can participate without any hindrance/entry barriers. Consequently, more than 10,000 users are registered on the platform. The project bagged Futuregov Award 2010 for Best Practices in Asia’s Public Sector during this year, and many laurels in the preceding years.

Karnataka State Wide Area Network (KSWAN) Project: The KSWAN Project, implemented at a cost of Rs, 178 crores, was launched on 07.12.2009. This project has established a wide multi-layer network. It has provided data, voice and video services. 2,400 Government Offices, covering 56 Departments are connected and I.P. Phones provided to more than 2,300 Offices. 126 Government Business Centers have been established in Taluk Headquarters and its services can be availed by all the Offices in the Taluk Headquarters.

Human Resources Management System (HRMS): The scheme, which started with assistance from the World Bank, has achieved many milestones in the last two and half years. 19,200 Drawing and Disbursing Officers are able to disburse salaries to Government Officials working under their control through electronic media. Besides, service registers of all the employees have also been updated. Because of this Government Employees retiring will be able to receive their retirement benefits on the day of retirement, in the days to come. This Scheme has been extended to several Corporations and Boards. Many state Governments are in consultation with the State Government for implementing the scheme in their State.

Bangalore-One Centers: The project was started with a plan of providing multiple G2C & B2C services under a single roof. At present 72 BangaloreOne Integrated Citizen Service Centers are operational across Bangalore City. The Center provides 40+ services like payment of utility bills, Bus /Train/ Flight ticket booking, Collection of fines, collection of examination related fees of Pre-University course and Bangalore University Graduation & Post Graduation courses etc.  

This project has bagged several awards which include CSI NIHILENT e-Governance AWARD 2005-06 for being best in service orientation, Finalist in Microsoft e-Governance Award 2007, National Webratna Silver Icon Award for excellence for the year 2009 and Finalist in NASSCOM 2010-11.

Karnataka-One Centers: Visualized on the Bangalore One model KarnatakaOne centres are established across tier II cities of the state which include Hubli-Dharwad, Belgaum, Bellary, Mysore, Mangalore, Davanagere, Gulbarga, Shimoga and Tumkur.

Aadhaar (UID) Project: Intended to give Unique Identity Numbers to all the 6 crores residents of the state, ‘AADHAAR’ Project is rolled out in the state and the enrollment is in full swing. With the implementation of this scheme, it is expected that public services will reach the targeted population more effectively.

Q Your comment on the challenges faced by the state in terms of e-governance implementation.

One of the major challenges was making citizens to feel good about the utilities of e-Governance initiatives and also changing the mindset of employees of the state.

Changing the mindset of employees of the state: About a decade ago, there was a sort of confusion among the Government employees about the adoption of computer services in Government sector.
The department has conducted many training programmes, workshops, seminars on the benefits of adopting e-governance in Government Departments. After realizing the benefits of computerization, now they are falling in line and actively co-operating with the programmes initiated by the department.
Making citizens to feel good about the utilities of the e-Governance initiatives: Many convincing and brain storming sessions were held across the state to make the citizens to understand the utility of the e-Governance programmes. The success of Bhoomi, Nemmadi, BangaloreOne, and e-Procurement has helped citizens feel contented about the changed systems.

Q Which are the projects in the coming future that Karnataka is looking forward to in terms of e-governance?

The following projects are in the pipeline.

Right to Information Project:- This Project is being planned with an intention of furnishing  information to the public who  apply for the same under the RTI Act, through Call Centre / Bangalore-One / Karnataka-One / State Web Portal.

M.I.S System for the Planning Department:- Information about the  various plan schemes of different departments implemented in districts and talukas  will be collected and  collated within certain prescribed timelines through the project.

State Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG):- The Gateway has been proposed to provide anywhere / everywhere services to the citizens. Large number of services and forms will be made available through the internet to the citizens, thereby avoiding frequent trips to the offices.

Stamps and Registration Services:- Marriage Certificates, Encumbrance Certificates and Sale Deeds will be made available to the public through Bangalore-One Centers, electronically.

Automation of Labour Department:- Labour Department is implementing major Acts / enactments. The services of the Department will be automated and electronically made available to the public.

Karnataka Residents Data Hub:- The State Government is implementing citizen friendly schemes like Nemmadi, Bhoomi, Bangalore-One, etc. The intention of this initiative is to have consolidated information of all the citizens, availing the benefits with linkages established between the different data bases. This will help the Government in evaluating not only the progress of the project but also extending the benefits to the targeted beneficiary.

Q Which are the main focus areas of the e-governance department in the state and how far have you been able to implement?

The main focus of the department is aimed at to bring transparency, efficiency, and time savings to citizen’s grievances through design & implementation of citizen friendly projects.

Transparency in procurement has been achieved by the implementation of e-Procurement project. Procurement to the tune of 80,000 crores has happened for the last 3 years with minimal complaints from the public.

Bhoomi, Nemmadi and BangaloreOne have shown to the public how efficiently the Government services are made available to public. By the implementation of these programmes the citizens are able to get services across the counters with lesser visits to government offices and with minimal official intervention.

Q What is the kind of budget allocation for the e-governance department?
Karnataka Government is always very liberal in providing adequate budget to the department. Financial constraint is not an issue as far as implementation of e-Governance initiatives is concerned.

Q Your views on the awareness measures taken up towards e-governance across the state.

There is a lot to be done in the field of awareness on the e-Governance programmes. The department is striving to explore the possibilities of extending all out services to every citizen of the state which in a way will definitely propagate the advantage of the electronic governance. 

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