TAMIL NADU: IT In Focus

With
a mission to make interface with the registration department a pleasant
experience, the Government of Tamil Nadu has commenced the simplified and
transparent administration of registration (STAR) project across the state. This
project comprises of a comprehensive IT package for all needs of the
registrants. The first phase of the project has been in operation in 16
sub-registrar offices and nine district registrar offices for services like
document archival, issue of certified copy, encumbrance certificate, property
valuation, guideline value, and birth and death extract. As a result, benefits
that have reached the common man are quick and transparent service, simplified
processes, elimination of middlemen and a pleasant experience with the user. The
measure of the success of the project is witnessed when compared to the time
saved with the new system. The encumbrance certificate, for instance, which used
to take eight days earlier in the manual system has been reduced to 15 minutes,
while that of property valuation has gone down from 60 minutes to 10 minutes.
The certified copy, registration and marriage extract has been reduced to half
an hour each, as opposed to the minimum one day time period earlier. The second
phase of the project which is currently being implemented will be extended to
the 284 sub registrar offices and 41 district registrar offices in the state by
2001. Tamil Nadu is the second largest revenue earner from the Registration
Department, fetching in Rs1000 crore, only next to the government of Maharashtra.

School project

During the period
1999-2000, the Tamil Nadu Budget proposed to take computer literacy to all the
1,300 higher secondary schools in the state. It was announced by the Chief
Minister. This was begun with not only the idea of taking computers to the grass
root level for the student community, but also making computers available at the
village level. The objective behind this was that, for e-governance to be
effective, people should be IT-savvy. Based on this, the government decided to
launch the School project floated by private participation to bear the initial
high cost of investment of hardware and training in all the higher secondary
schools. The state-owned Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (Elcot) was
chosen as the implementing agent for the project to select suitable contracts
for the regions of Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai and Trichy into which the state
is divided.

Forty three contracts to impart
computer education in 666 government higher secondary schools was taken up in
the first phase and the remaining 516 schools will be covered in the second
phase. The first phase that introduced the course curriculum has been
periodically reviewed by the Committee for Advanced System. The committe has
revised the second year syllabus in keeping with the latest in internet and
emerging technologies. Under the first year, the project has trained over
250,000 students and provided employment opportunities for 1,332 computer
instructors. The government has ensured penetration of computers in all the
villages through this program by allowing the private participants who run the
computer centers in the school to leave it open for the public to learn courses
or use computers for browsing and internet purposes. And for those who have no
use for computers or browsing, off-line browsing of sample sites contained in
CDs is used for practice to save valuable time and bandwidth.

The government has kept its
initial investment costs low by contracting it to private training institutes
like NIIT and Aptech, who take up the responsibility of installing the hardware,
software, maintaining computer centers and also training the students and staff
on computers on a quarterly payment mode. In addition to extending the school
project to the remaining higher secondary schools and high schools in the state
in the next two years, the government is already proposing to introduce similar
computer centers in the 60 government colleges in the medicine and law streams.

Further, the government is
contemplating the scheme to be taken up to general graduate courses for a
minimum period of one year. "Once all the students of schools and colleges
in the state become IT-savvy, the direct social impact of e-governance will
already have begun to be felt," explains RT Arasan, GM, Marketing, Elcot.

Telemedicine project

With a
primary focus on health care, the Government of Tamil Nadu has tried to leverage
IT as a strategic tool to help hospitals in remote areas to be connected to
major city hospitals for telemedicine and consulting. The first pilot project is
being carried out between Walajah Government Hospital and Chennai General
Hospital. A technology-oriented project, it helps health and family welfare
initiatives by allowing the doctors in remote areas to consult experts in
special cases or for referral purposes through a direct ISDN link between the
two hospitals. These hospitals will also be provided with digital cameras, video
conferencing, telemedicine facilities, scanning, x-ray and small video clipping
transmission capabilities. These would allow exchange of views on live surgeries
or tackle complicated cases in a short period of time without actually
transferring the patient physically to the Chennai hospital. This is also
launched under the build-and-operate model where equipment providers maintain
and post
persons in these centers for annual maintenance and training.
Based on the success of this project, the government plans to extend the same
facility to other rural hospitals with ISDN connectivity.

Computerization of land
records

A central
government funded project, computerization of land records in Tamil Nadu has
completed the first phase of data entry of existing record of rights and started
using extracts of it as computer print outs. The objective of implementing the
project has been to eliminate corruption in the department and for customer
proof of ownership. To start with, the department has created a master register
of all Indian land records with entries of ‘Chitta’–record of rights and
‘Patta’–details of holding, with basic updating features for dynamic
updates of buy, sell and partition details. After an initial pilot project in
Salem district in 1991-92, all the districts and the 206 ‘Taluk’ offices in
the state have been computerized during 1997-98. A detailed transaction history
of all the records, with security features like user name and password for all
the transactions, has been implemented to preserve the sanctity and accuracy of
land records. And with the repository of information which has been
computerized, cit
izens can walk up to any of the ‘Taluk’ offices and
get a print out of the record of the document required at the click of a button.
Digitization of the field map for the corresponding land records is also being
undertaken. A field measurement book for the village is being registered for the
same purpose using digital scan and ladder data entry methods. And with the
completion of the project, the land RDBMS will be linked to the map front-end on
Windows NT operating systems. Simultaneously, computerization of other details
like money order for pensions, PDS systems and grievance day petitions have also
been taken up in the ‘Taluk’ offices.

Local language computing
project

The
TamilNet ’99, an international conference on Tamil language held last year,
was the stepping stone for the focus on developing computing in Tamil. Some of
the key initiatives undertaken during the conference were
to standardize
the Tamil key board and fonts, according to Unicode guidelines. A ‘KaniTamil
Changam’ association was formulated for this purpose to certify that the new
fonts developed by independent vendors conform to the standards set by Unicode,
according to the Tamil ’99 standards. In the first phase, 10 software and four
printers in the Tamil language were certified to conform to the Tamil ’99
standards, incorporating features set by the association. This ensures
compatibility of fonts in encoding mechanisms, email and communication. As part
of the same conference, a Tamil Virtual University has been registered as a
society to start operations to encourage NRI Tamils and non-Tamils interested in
learning the language. In addition, a Tamil Software Development Fund has been
constituted by the government which writes proposals from educational
institutions and experts in the usage of Tamil in computing and internet. Four
such projects have already been identified and funded for this purpose in the
areas of voice recognition, mapping of Windows system booting in Tamil, Unix
platform, advanced Tamil interface with Windows, optical character recognition
for printed Tamil and Linux in Tamil.

E-governance
Projects

  • STAR:
    Simplified and transparent administration of registration across Tamil
    Nadu, a comprehensive IT package for all needs of the registrants.
  • SCHOOL PROJECT:
    To take computer literacy to 1,300 higher secondary schools in the
    state
  • TELE-MEDICINE
    PROJECT
    :
    Allows doctors in remote areas to consult experts on special cases or
    for referral purposes through a direct ISDN link.
  • COMPUTERIZATION
    OF LAND RECORDS
    :
    To eliminate corruption in the department and for customers’ proof
    of ownership.
  • LOCAL LANGUAGE
    COMPUTING
    :
    Standardized keyboard and fonts, Tamil virtual library, Tamil Software
    Development Fund, Tamil Internet Research Center.
  • COMPUTERIZATION
    OF TRANSPORT DEPARTMENT
    :
    Data-entered and updated the historical data of one crore records of
    vehicles and drivers in the state from 1984 onwards.

A Tamil Internet Research Center
has also been set up for funding projects for the use of Tamil on the net.
"The objective is that, finally, language will not be a barrier for
Tamilians to catch up with the internet and computing in this state,"
explains Lakshmi Narayanan, GM, Elcot, who is in charge of some of these
initiatives.

Computerization of transport
department

The Government of Tamil
Nadu has been one of the fore-runners in introducing computing technologies to
issue driving licenses, registration certificates, permits and taxation. The
first phase of implementation for issuing computerized documents in all the
areas has been achieved, thereby making the process easy, convenient and
fool-proof. For instance, the issuance of driving licenses which was prone to
corruption and even duplicate licenses, has now been checked with each driving
license holder having to go up to the RTO to get the license laminated driving
licenses. The hologram on the driving license with the state emblem has been yet
another major initiative in curbing fake licenses issued anywhere in the state.
All the 17 transport offices across the state, including the seven zones, have
implemented computerization
for issuing driving licenses, registration
certificates, permits and taxation across the state. The department has
data-entered and up-dated the historical data of one crore records of vehicles
and drivers in the state. The project is being extended to prepare better
infrastructure and ISDN connectivity with all the offices in the state for
speedy transactions.  

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