A few months ago when I read about IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran unveiling 26 projects under the National e-Governance plan costing the Government around Rs 23,000 crore over the next five years, my response was like woh! thats a lot of money. Considering this as a part of a five year plan, 23000 crore would be a substantial investment. I wonder if we spend that much on academic research!. But then I was naive, not in assuming that we do not spend 23000 crore in academic research, but in acting cynically towards e-Governance. As I applied for my passport earlier this month, I was almost prepared to make use of the RTI, but much to my surprise I discovered that I could know the exact status of my application over the web! and even ask a question! Actually this is the way a passport inspector told me about it. His emphasis on “ask a question” forced me to put up that craftily enacted surprise look that made him feel even more happier. Of course he repeated the same thing to all my friends. Everyone made him feel happier. A lot of other services like High Court Case status, SalesTax returs etc are being offered to the citizens of Gujarat by the Gujarat state Governments webservices.
These services will improve the interaction of citizens with the Government official and with the use of local languages the time is not far when mostly all formal applications and complaints will be done online from omnipresent cyber cafes. The Government of MP is also planning to go the tech way. To streamline the Public distribution system and to check the black marketing system

“A computer-based automated ration card and public distribution management system would be set up under a pilot project which would connect the shopkeeper, the warehouse and the consumer through computers,” said an official.

800$ million would be spent on making 10 million e cards which would be used in 23000 stores across the state. A company will run the system for five years after which it will hand over the running to dept concerned. Looks to be good idea as it would at least get a centralized database of the users and a check can be kept on the distribution system.

States like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh are a apart of a unique initiative with the Big Blue IBM. A softwere competition called invite demands students to design unique solutions to Governments problems. I think that more and more states should come up with things like these, catch em young before they flow with the brain drain and leave for Redmond and Sunnyvale. Tapping the talented work force by giving them something worthwhile to do and adding a cherry on the top by offering a chance to make up some quick moolah, well its a personal feeling, might just work out for the country. I hope e-Governance works, but then I hope for a lot of other things too.

We’d like to know more about states that have launched such initiatives or the present e-Government services online. If you know about/run a software firm doing e-Governance projects. Please write to us at ujj[at]mutiny[dot]in 🙂