Mandira Nayar

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.