The draft National Policy on Information Technology (IT) 2011 reminds Kerala about the heights it can attain by building on the head start it has over other States in utilising IT for efficient delivery of government services.
The State has already made a mark in some of the thrust areas proposed in the draft policy — be it e-governance, access to citizen services through mobile phone applications and common service centres, or making at least one person in a family e-literate.
“Emerging technology trends will make it possible for millions of citizens to access services electronically in self-service mode using mobile phones and the Internet or through assisted service points such as Common Services Centres (CSCs),” the draft policy says.
The proposal to make government services accessible through CSCs has been successfully implemented in the State through 2,000-odd Akshaya centres. Besides, they have already achieved another goal set out in the draft policy — of ‘making at least one person in every household e-literate.'
“We had achieved that feat in 2009 when we covered 35 lakh families under the e-literacy project,” Korath V. Mathew, Director, Akshaya Project, told The Hindu on Monday.
Akshaya has also been a flag bearer in the e-district project whereby government certificates are issued online. This is an accomplishment as it has been listed as a major objective in the policy. The Union IT Department has asked the rest of the country to emulate the model set by Kerala in implementing the e-district project.
The achievements of the State in the field of mobile governance have been recognised even outside the country, with the Kerala State IT Mission winning this year's mBillionth South Asian Award for its mobile governance project. The expertise of the State in utilising m-governance applications continues to attract a steady flow of international delegations here.
Another unique distinction achieved by the State is that it has enacted, perhaps, the first Electronic Delivery of Services Rules in 2010, which provides the legal framework for the smooth roll out of e-governance applications in the State.
The IT policy reminds States of the need to ‘integrate Internet- and mobile-based delivery of services onto a common platform to enable seamless, ubiquitous, secure, and personalised delivery of government and non-government services throughout the country.' This should come as a wake-up call to the State, says Sabarish K., Mission Coordinator.
IT sources said the absence of coordination among different departments of the government in automation has led to a lack of integration, affecting interoperability and accessibility of different data bases. “Though the Union government has set guidelines for e-governance, they are at best ignored,” they say
The State Service Delivery Gateway, when operational, will facilitate interoperability of databases on different platforms. In the long run, there should be a mechanism to check whether the guidelines are adhered to before giving administrative sanction to e-governance projects, sources say.
The State's performance in e-governance should not become a punishment of sorts as the Union government sometime tends to ignore the State while focusing on under-performing States, they say.
Mr. Mathew feels that the State's main problem in electronic service delivery is the absence of a model to follow. “Being a pioneer we have to set our own path,” he states.