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'Attitudinal change needed to improve e-governance index'

The Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, with the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, at the inauguration of the seventh national e-governance conference in Chennai on Thursday. — Photo: Vino John  

CHENNAI NOV. 13. The Deputy Prime Minister, L.K.Advani, today said that unless e-governance was backed by administrative reforms in processes, procedures and systems of governance, any initiative would end up as mere computerisation of activities with no tangible benefit to stakeholders.

"We must realise that e-governance is not a matter of technology alone. It is much more than introduction of computers and software...we need an attitudinal change in the Government, at all levels, to accept the responsibilities and obligations of good governance."

He was inaugurating the seventh national e-governance conference here.

Mr. Advani announced the commencement of operations of the National Institute of Smart Government to facilitate implementation of e-governance initiatives.

The NISG, located in Hyderabad, was set up on a recommendation by the National Task Force on Information Technology and Software Development, constituted by the Centre in 1998.

Paradoxically, India, recognised as a leading power in information technology, had a poor e-governance index, Mr. Advani said. "India is still far behind in its overall e-governance performance. I am told that in an index of 133 countries, India's score is 1.29, against the global average of 1.62. Our rank in the world is 77 and our performance is categorised as minimal."

Grants for modernisation

The Deputy Prime Minister said the Central and State police showed a keen interest in IT applications, thanks to modernisation grants. In the current year, more than Rs.100 crores was sanctioned for purchase of computers in different States. The Government was targeting computerisation/networking of all 12,367 police stations and about 7,000 inspector/DSP/SP offices in the next two or three years. "State Crime Record Bureaus are playing key roles in advancing police computerisation."

The Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, said the Tamil Nadu Information System for Land Administration and Management (Tamil Nilam) was operational in 206 taluks in 29 districts. Touchscreen kiosks, installed in one model taluk in each district, would be provided in the remaining 177 taluks. "May I request that the Deputy Prime Minister use his good offices so that the Government of India provides full support for this scheme," she said.

The Rural Access to Services through the Internet project would be extended to the entire State.

Focus on rural areas

"Driven by my Government's commitment to e-governance, a major objective of Tamil Nadu's IT policy is to empower people in rural areas to bridge the digital divide. In this direction, our RASI project will, I am certain, be mentioned in the annals of information technology in Government, as one of the most superlative examples of IT application for empowerment of people living in rural areas."

Over the next two days, the conference, organised by the Union Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances and the Tamil Nadu IT department, will deliberate on issues in e-governance and ways of surmounting problems.