2007 could be dubbed as the year for underdogs to emerge as
champions. It was the year when relative newcomers shone under the spotlight: be
it a Dhoni or a beanpole Ishant Sharma shining on the cricket pitch or an
effervescent kid walking away with the honors in Taare Zameen Par.
Even the Dataquest e-Gov Champions Awards 2008 followed a
similar pattern. Most winners across India were not from traditional
e-governance strongholds like Andhra or Karnataka. Instead the almost esoteric
mix of winners represented a geographic spread that would find pride of place in
the Lonely Planet. Our champions came from places like the drought-ridden
Bolangir in Orissa or the ever-derided Patna in Bihar, Naxal-infested
Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, from the terrorist hotbed in Kashmir or Lakshdweep
away from the Indian mainland. We call this the democratization of Indian IT.
Other than coming from places you wont even send your enemies
to, these champions also share some other common traits. For one, they have
consistently fathered initiatives or missions that have over the years touched
the lives of common citizens and have helped make their lives better. What also
separates many of these people from their peers is the sheer innovativeness
behind their ideas.
While these champions were honored for their endeavors over the
e-Gov Summit Dataquest recently organized over four cities, here we
present a brief snapshot of these illustrious sons (and daughters). And, as you
read, we are sure that you too would join us in saluting the champions, the
architects of tomorrows India.
Additional CEO, CHIPS (Chhattisgarh infotech and biotech promotion
All Chips in Place
A M Parial is known for his contributions to the e-gov initiatives taken in the
state of Chhattisgarh since its inception. With an experience of over 18 years
in MP and Chhattisgarh, Parial is presently leading various teams for
implementing e-governance projects such as CHOICE, GIS, e-gram suraj, CGSWAN and
State Data Centre. He has been awarded the Excellency Award twice by the
Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board.
CHIPS has successfully minimized the number of silos in the
system to create a single framework for citizens to interact with the
government. At CHIPS all the projects are citizen centric and each of the
initiatives taken has been institutionalized.
According to Parial, every solution provided should address
aspects such as front end services, back-end support, delivery mechanism etc. It
should not be limited and should be easily replicable. The horizontal and
vertical scalability of the IT solution should also be taken into consideration.
According to Parial, though most projects are vendor driven, the citizen should
feel empowered rather than being treated as customers.
The Chhattisgarh government is focused on enhancing the literacy
levels within the state with the help of simple technologies. So IT in education
and IT for education is the mantra today. But though there has been a great deal
of investments in the core sectors such as cement, power, steel, etc, nobody
wants to be the first mover in the IT sector. “There is an immediate need
for certain anchor tenants to enter and leverage the overall benefits that the
state has to offer from a long term perspective,” says Parial. The
government is being increasingly proactive with a number of SEZs coming up.
Administrator, UT of Lakshadweep
The Utility Man
Lakshadweep has attained the unique distinction of being the first UT/state in
the country to fully digitize its employment exchange and related services in
the country. The Ministry of Labor & Employment, Government of India has
also evinced interest now, as this project has a high replicable potential and
would definitely help the young human resource of India to dynamically and
objectively participate in rapid economic development. The man responsible for
this has been the administrator BV Selvaraj, one who deserves the sobriquet of
being the architect of a modern Lakshadweep.
Selvarajs stints have been particularly fruitful in Union
Territories like Puducherry and Andamans. Counted among his biggest achievements
would be the appropriate administrative reforms he brought to facilitate
execution of projects such as the opening of eight virtual employment
exchange in different islands and decentralization at Sub Divisional Officers
level with power delegation of Additional District Employment Officers.
Fortunately, technology is a two way sword and it always cuts
both ways, so the very application, namely registration of seats on ships to and
from Lakshadweep, has not only been a boon to tourists but also to the local
population. Credit is due to a few individuals like the administrator of
Lakshadweep, BV Selvaraj and his team. They have taken upon the cause of
modernization and the result is robust and thriving ICT initiatives in the
various islands. In fact, over the years, e-gov projects in Lakshadweep have
received awards at different platforms in recognition of the path breaking work
being done by the smallest union territory.
Poor Mans Messiah
The Balangir district in western Orissa has always been in the news for its
extreme poverty, recurring droughts, and the pitiable state of its healthcare.
But, now, Belangir is in the news for happier reasons, thanks to its new rainman
CVK Maruti Rao.
CVK Maruti Rao
District Informatics Officer, NIC, District Balangir, Orrisa
Rao, the DIO of Balangir has been effectively championing the
cause of e-governance for over five years. Ever since his first posting in the
district in 2002, Rao has been creating the much-desired awareness about the use
of ICT tools. But these five years of dedicated service were not a cakewalk.
In his own words: “Accuracy in information, credibility,
and cost of acquisition with no or minimal time gap is what helps in strategic
timely decisions. For successful e-governance, one needs to meet these
requirements and generate a positive attitude for the users toward use of IT in
Rao says using the existing infrastructure effectively is the
key to successful e-governance, followed by affecting a change in attitude of
the stakeholders in the government.
Rao joined NIC in 2001, after which he started on his mission
with his very first posting in the Balangir district. He developed the first
district website, which had complete profiles and information about the
government offices. There has been no looking back for Rao. Some of his projects that truly deserve a mention include the web-based Information
Register of Public Authority, web-based Revenue Information System, the Orissa
Rainfall Monitoring System, and an RTI website hosting information from 80
Chauhans journey as an e-governance proponent began when he was asked to
computerize the states Finance department treasuries. By 1996, 20 treasuries
were fully operational and were able to give accounting information to the
Accountant General in time, using computers. Before the Treasury
computerization, the state government was under pressure from the RBI for
crossing credit limits, as there was no control on cash flow. But once
computerization happened, top officials of the government were able to see the
financial position every evening, and the decision on payments could be taken
without delay with no possibilities of overuling the credit limit of the RBI,
thus avoiding the bankruptcy of state.
GP Singh Chauhan
Technical Director, NIC UP State unit
Once Chauhan had proven his mettle in computerizing complex
financial projects, he was entrusted with the responsibility of Budget
computerization. The successful implementation of the project enabled error free
budget documents with appropriate budget provision in different schemes in an
electronic format. These could be easily ported to all the treasuries for bill
But as someone who believes that the ultimate goal of ICT is to
help in avoiding wastage the time of those who come to government offices in
search of information, Chauhans dream project was the Integrated Pension
Management System (IPMS). The project had the provision of capturing photos and
signatures to avoid illegal issuance of payment orders.
However, at the end of the day, it is the satisfaction of
knowing that a retired employee does not have to run from pillar to post to get
his pension payment orders in time, which drives Chauhan.
Technical director of NIC posted at the Union Ministry of Rural
Madhuri Sharma, technical director of NIC posted at the Union Ministry of Rural
Development has been working toward the upliftment of rural masses along with
her senior colleague DC Mishra. According to Madhuri, the three main
contributions of e-governance are improving government processes
(e-administration); connecting citizens (e-citizens and e-services); and
building external interactions (e-society).
Sharmas latest achievement, the national level
transaction-based system implemented across the National Rural Employment
Guarantee Act (NREGA) districts in the country. NREGAsoft ensures that the
information of all the states is in the same format and in local languages. The
process flow at all level like gram panchayat/block/districts/state and Ministry
of Rural Development has been captured. The local language support is popular
among the rural citizens. The project strengthened the NREGA processes
on-ground, as it demands the information about all the processes. It is 100% RTI-enabled
as it shares all the data and information about NREGS in public domain through
the Internet, which is otherwise difficult.
Sharma and Mishra also developed an Intranet site
“Daily” (http://126.96.36.199/daily) for the Ministry of Rural
Development with an aim to strengthen the ongoing e-governance efforts in the
Principal Systems Analyst (Scientist-D), National Informatics Centre,
For NK Prasad, Principal Systems Analyst (Scientist-D), NIC, eGovernance should
aim at realizing SMART (Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent)
Government. Having strong grassroot level databases and a strong bottoms-up
approach forms the core of this SMART Government. What is also required is an
effective mechanism for instant monitoring. For Prasad, eGovernance should also
provide a single window for non-stop citizen centric eServices.
All said and done, eGovernance at the national level can only be
achieved with each village transformed into a SMART village. In the past Prasad
has been involved with the design, development and implementation of an ICT-based
solution for the Statewide Land Record Computerization Project in Bihar, called
Bhu-Abhilekh. Other projects include the University Computerization Project,
SCOPE, for the Veer Kuar Singh University, Ara as well as Schemes monitoring
System, SPECTRUM (Special Program Evaluation Customized to TRUe Monitoring).
A key highlight of his career has been the System for
Computerized Registration (SCORE) , a project that Prasad has been consistently
working on since 2005.
SCORE is an ICT solution incorporating all instruments under
acts for property registration in Bihar. It has been designed, developed and
implemented by NIC Bihar State Centre, Patna, and all 111 registry offices of
the state. The end result: transformation of the 200-year old system of manual
property registration to SOHO (Small Office Home Office) with less-paper office.
IG Police of Bastar, Chhattisgarh
Rajinder Vij has been serving as the IG of Bastar for the past 1.5 years. His
maiden project, on automated interstate checkposts, was to strengthen the Cyber
Crime Department. That is when he decided to go in for the first computerized
Finger Printing Bureau. All technical investigations, involving critical
documents, FSL, finger prints were assigned to him. With an initial budget of
just 30 lakh, the police department at Bastar chose Secure Mantra as their
vendor for the project.
According to Vij, India is lagging far behind in the science of
forensics. Earlier Chhattisgarh only had a regional laboratory while the central
lab was in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. The regional lab conducted only minor tests
and the police department relied on the Central lab for major investigations.
So, the regional lab in Raipur was upgraded into a central lab with the
introduction of the latest international equipment and processes.
With the increasing rate of cyber crime in Chhattisgarh, the
Police Department has set up a Cyber Lab at the headquarters to tackle cyber
To strengthen the grievance redressal system, self-service
kiosks are being installed at the various stations. The Police Department is in
the process of implementing the Common Integrated Police Application (CIPA)
which is projected for completion in the next two years. Once the CIPA is fully
functional, it will serve as a centralized integrated platform for the Police
Department in Bastar and adjoining districts.
Right since the beginning, Sheo Shekhar Shuklas focus was to interact
directly with the rural citizens in far-flung areas and to receive direct
feedback from them about the government machinery and its effectiveness on. This
motivated him to adopt a medium like radio that had great penetration within the
state. He spearheaded a radio program called Jan Samvad, where citizens could
call and Shukla and his officers would discuss their grievances.
Sheo Shekhar Shukla
Collector, Ujjain, Government of Madhya Pradesh
To inform the masses about the action taken by the
administration, the team also set up a Jan Samvad website. All the grievances
that were addressed on air were immediately posted on the website. Also, the
officers were provided log-in IDs for accessing the website and taking
appropriate action on the queries. The officers in turn had to post their report
on the actions taken, back on the website. In this way, all the information was
available to the citizen, stakeholders as well the administrative bodies.
In addition, Shuklas team identified certain private kiosk
operators in the rural areas and they were doctored into the system. As the team
could not attend to all the calls that came in during a one-hour window, the
citizens were motivated to post their queries with the help of the private
Internet kiosk operators who uploaded all the queries onto the website.
These initiatives helped in creating transparent and direct
interface between citizens and the administration. It proved to be a great
success story as it was for the first time in India that the public could
interact directly with the collector of the state and discuss their problems.
The government officials were also cautious in their dealings with the citizenry
as the public was empowered and had direct access to the administration.
Director of Municipalities (DOM), Government of Gujarat
A Sensitive Touch
The pretty Sonal Mishra works with the Directorate of Urban Bodies, and is
responsible for looking after a total of 161 municipalities in Gujarat.
When she was the Municipal Commissioner of Jamnagar, she tried
to work out the modalities of the various services which the urban bodies
provide to citizens. Having realized that the IT solutions have to be customized
to the needs of the people, she set about in her path to successfully integrate
IT and governance to create a proactive and transparent mechanism.
While talking about her award-winning initiatives, her
enthusiasm and passion for the cause shines through. She speaks fondly of the
Jan Seva Kendra (JSK) or the Citizen Service Centres that have been set up in
Gandhinagar, where all the applications, petitions and problems of people are
redressed in a very systematic and scientific manner. It all starts from a
Citizen ID System, which is a centralized point where all the details of a
citizen are recorded. This brings in transparency and prevents any application
from getting lost within the system.
Mishra explains that effective e-governance brings a great deal
of responsibility for the bureaucracy. She says, “Personally, as we go
forward, I feel there is need for a proper mandate to bring about solutions in a
time bound and integrated manner.” She further stresses on the need to
focus on the single citizen interface and develop a system around that.
Bureaucrats have to look beyond their respective departments and work in a
For Sunil Kumar Barnwal, Inspector General of Prisons and more recently
additional CEO of Jharkhand Agency for Promotion of IT, e-governance brings
about an opportunity to use IT to transform government processes.
Sunil Kumar Barnwal
Inspector General of Prisons and Additional CEO of Jharkhand Agency for
Promotion of IT
Among his notable past assignments Barnwal has served as
director, Information Technology, Government of Jharkhand from March 2006 to
January 2008, wherein he was involved in almost all e-gov projects in Jharkhand.
During his tenure, he had been involved in the states SWAN and CSC. He is
also looking after the implementation of these projects. His stint as director
IT led Jharkhand to bag the Best e-Governed State (Future Potential) award in
2006 and Progressive e-Governed State award in 2007 from the Computer Society of
Some of the key projects to Barnwals credit are Jharkhand
Automated Registration System, e-Kuber, Jharnet, Pragya Kendra, e-Gyan, and a
Child Tracking System. The current projects that he is handling include
videoconferencing between jails and Civil courts and Prisoners Management
The Prisoners Management Information System is a complete
management information system of jails in a web-based environment. Presently the
project is being implemented in the Ranchi Central Jail.
Barnwal is responsible for monitoring the use of this system and
updation of databases by the jail superintendent. His responsibility also
involves planning and budgeting of jails using the information of prisoners.
Chief Information Officer (IT), Delhi State Industrial &
Infrastructure Development Corporation
With a background in public administration, Kapur, whose earlier stints included
working with the Tea Board of India, has always been an active proponent of
utilizing technology for better governance whether it is working on revamping
the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) pass system or transforming the much lax
file movement procedures in the government departments by introducing the file
His first brush with technology, however, came in 1992 when he
decided to computerize liquor sales in Delhi. Before the implementation of the
barcode solution at IMFL vends, the government received a large number of
complaints about over-charging or black marketing of the brands. Post
implementation, customers are satisfied because they are not being over-charged,
and, also the brands available can be checked at the counter. One can also check
the sale, stock and availability of the brands on the Internet.
The File Monitoring System, which Kapur developed, has now
become a lifeline for many. Kapur was moved by the plight of the common man
facing delays in file movement in government departments and of making a number
of trips for getting a small job done. The FMS was tested in-house for six
months, and has now been in use for over a year. It prevents officers from
withholding files for long periods without stating clear reasons.
But no e-governance initiative is complete without the active
participation of the common citizen; and it was Kapurs belief in the
importance of this feedback that was the driver behind all his initiativesputting
the common man first.