Special Service and Features24-January, 2011 18:09 IST
E-Governance Initiatives-Changing Lives for the better

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY                                                                                       REPUBLIC DAY 2011



Growing demand for services and information are pushing Governments across the globe to provide services at a faster pace and with increased capacity so as to cover all regions irrespective of geography, language or literacy levels. Continuous innovation in ICTs and rapid advancement of technology are bringing forth novel and easier mechanisms in providing seamless access to critical public services and are making Government interaction with citizens trouble-free and easy.


Services provided through the various e-Government initiatives assist Governments in reaching the yet ‘unreached’ and thereby contribute to poverty reduction in rural and far-flung areas by increasing access to critical information and opportunities. At the same time, this process also enables involvement and empowerment of marginalized groups through their participation in the government process.


The National e-Governance Plan was approved by the Cabinet in May 2006 with a vision to provide Public services to the common man in his locality at affordable costs.  The NeGP is a multi-stakeholder programme which primarily focuses on making critical public services available and promoting rural entrepreneurship.


Common Services Centres


            Since its approval, many milestones have been achieved under the Plan. While Mission Mode Projects such as MCA21 and Pensions are successfully providing services to their respective stakeholders through their respective portals, extensive outreach has been achieved for those in need of assisted access to public services through establishment of over 87,000 Common Services Centers (CSC) across 30 States & UTs of our country to provide access to approximately 60 million people residing in nearly 500,000 villages. The Department of Information Technology (DIT) plans to complete the roll out of 100,000 CSCs across 600,000 villages by March 2011. Given the on ground success of CSCs, the  President in her address to the Parliament has directed that “The scheme for Common Services Centers or e-Kiosks will be suitably repositioned to be network of Panchayat level Bharat Nirman Common Service Centers to provide Government services to citizens in rural areas”. Accordingly the CSC Scheme shall be further extended by DIT to cover remaining 150,000 Panchayats. This is by far, the biggest project of its kind anywhere in world. It is also unique in its perspective because perhaps for the first time it is being effectively demonstrated that a Public Private Partnership model can work successfully and can be self sustainable in delivering a basket of services to essentially rural and underserviced section of the society. It is estimated that over 100,000 rural micro enterprises have been created as a result of implementation of the CSC Scheme.


These Centers provide access to over 100 different types of public and private services including but not limited to enrolment & job cards under MGNREGS, copy of Record of Rights, telemedicine enabled diagnostics, access to financial services such as insurance & micro finance, utility services such as payment of utility bills, employment services such as vocational, soft skills and language training, booking of tickets, recharge of mobile phones etc. It is envisaged that very soon several other services critical to rural populace including all services provided by Gram Panchayats and other social services under rural development, health and employment shall be ubiquitously accessed through the Common Services Centers.


Apart from CSCs, significant progress has been made in the other two core e-infrastructure pillars of the National e Governance Plan consisting of State Wide Area Networks (SWAN) and State Data Centres (SDC).          


SWAN Scheme


            The SWAN scheme, at an estimated outlay of Rs 3334 crores, was approved by the Government of India in March 2005.  The objective has been to provide a country wide secure network for delivering G2C and G2G services interconnecting each State/UT Headquarter and each District HQ with the Block HQ via lease lines with minimum 4 Mbps bandwidth capacity between each State/UT headquarter and District headquarter, and minimum 2 Mbps bandwidth between District headquarter and Block/Taluka headquarter. At present, 23 State Wide Area Networks are operational across the nation, while 2 are in advanced stage and 4 are in progress. SWAN will be operational in all States by June 2011.


            The State Data Centre (SDC), is one of the core infrastructure pillars of the NeGP to be set up in all 35 States/UTs. SDCs planned for each state are envisaged as state level digital nerve system housing all applications and databases. SDC provides key functionalities such as Central Repository of the State, Secure Data Storage, Online e-Delivery of G2G, G2B and G2C Services, Citizen Information/Services Portal, State Intranet Portal, Disaster Recovery, Remote Management and Service Integration. The Government has approved the SDC scheme at an outlay of Rs 1623.20 crores. SDC is currently operational in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Tripura. SDCs in 14 States are under Implementation (West Bengal, Sikkim, Orissa, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Haryana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala). Jharkhand has issued the LoI to the selected Bidder. Bid process is in progress in 6 States (Andaman & Nicobar, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Uttrakhand, Jammu & Kashmir and Bihar). RFP for 6 States (Himachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Arunachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Assam and Punjab) is under finalisation by the States/DIT. RFP is under preparation by the State of Goa. It is expected that about 14 Data Centres shall be made operational by March 2011 and the remaining Data Centres will be progressively made operational by December 2011.


National Population Register                                                                                                 


The Government has initiated the creation of National Population Register (NPR) by collecting specific information of all usual residents in the country during the House-listing and Housing Census phase of Census 2011, during April 2010 to September 2010.  The NPR is a comprehensive identity database to be created and maintained by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India (RG&CCI), Ministry of Home Affairs. It involves digitization of the demographic data thus collected and biometric enrolment of all usual residents for allotment of Unique Identification (UID) Numbers. RG&CCI has assigned Department of Information Technology (DIT), Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, with the responsibility of demographic data digitization and biometric data collection in 19 States and 2 Union Territories of India. The objective of NPR is to facilitate better targeting of the benefits and services under the government schemes, improve planning and security, and prevent identity fraud.


The demographic data will be digitized in the language of the State as well as in English. Once this demographic database has been created, the biometric enrolment (capture of one photograph, ten finger prints and iris scan of both eyes) will be carried out for all usual residents aged 5 years and above, through enrolment camps across the Nation. The demographic data and the photograph of the residents will be printed in the form of Local Register of Usual Residents (LRUR), and as per a process defined by RG&CCI based on feedback from the usual residents, any corrections in LRUR will be carried out. This authenticated data will then be sent to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for de-duplication and issue of UID Numbers.  The cleaned database along with the UID Numbers will then be sent back to the RG&CCI, and would form the National Population Register.


There are several supporting infrastructure under the NeGP which will enable speedy service delivery.  This project creates State Portals that will host electronic forms to offer convenient and easy services to citizens. This project leverages the existing e-governance core infrastructure namely CSCs, SWAN and SDCs. It intends to provide the citizen with easy, simple, “anywhere and anytime” access to government services. It aims to reduce the number of visits of a citizen to a government department/office for availing services. It also aims to reduce administrative burden and service fulfillment time and costs for the Government, Businesses, and the Citizen by creating more efficient communication means through the portals. It will enable the citizen to download forms, and submit their applications electronically with the help of e-forms available on the State Portals, routed through a common service gateway (SSDG). The project will guarantee electronic delivery of the request from the citizen to the specified field office of the Government Department. The citizen will also get an electronic acknowledgement of successful submission of application from the Department. Moreover, at any given point in time, the citizen can ascertain the current status of his/her application request online. So far 17 States/UT’s have completed the process of selecting the Implementing Agency for the project.


India Portal


            One of the key Mission Mode Projects in the integrated service category under the NeGP is the India Portal. This project has been implemented by NIC. It has been envisaged as a unified portal providing “single window access” to information and G2C services which are electronically delivered from all state sector institutions and organizations. The first version of the portal is operational and was released by the Minister for Communications and Information Technology on November 10, 2005 and the portal address is http://india.gov.in/. Some of the Demand driven additional modules for Public Participation like Complain & Appeal Module for Central Information Commission (CIC), NGO Partnership System, Business Module of the India Portal have been implemented. There has been an attempt by the National Portal to bring together all online services offered by the Central and State Governments under a single umbrella for various categories of services like G2G, G2E, G2C and G2B. Around 1830 services offered by different State Governments have been added. In addition, the content has been enhanced to facilitate the contribution of Government information and services for example: 7365 forms can be downloaded now from the portal, at least 1830 services, 1420 schemes, 6160 documents, 2239 Acts,  and 1444 Rules  are available on the site.


Standards in e-Governance are sine qua non for sharing of information and seamless interoperability of data across e-Governance applications in India. An Institutional Mechanism has been setup under National eGovernance Programme (NeGP) to evolve/adopt Standards for e-Governance. Government of India is promoting the usage of Open Standards for egovernance to avoid any technology lock-ins. A Policy on Open Standards has been formulated which provides a framework for the selection of Open Standards to facilitate interoperability between systems while providing organizations the flexibility to select different hardware, systems software, and application software for implementing cost effective e-Governance solutions.


            Open standards for interoperability in various domains would now need to be adopted which would be part of the Interoperability Framework for e-Governance (IFEG) document.  Standards have also been adopted for localization like Unicode and Open Font Format. Metadata and data standards have been published for person and land identification which will ensure sharing of information and seamless interoperability of data across applications.


Security assurance framework guidelines to help in implementation of the ISO 27001 standard have been published. Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) and guidelines to ensure quality in e-Governance applications have been also published. Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) Interoperability guidelines have been published to enable interoperability of DSC’s issued by various Certifying Authorities(CA). Guidelines for usage of Digital Signatures in eGovernance Applications have also been published. Website Design Guidelines compliant to Web Accessibility guidelines have also been published.


Biometrics standards for face image, fingerprint image and Iris image standards would enable the sharing of biometrics data by various e-Governance applications. Work is also under progress in the areas of Enterprise architecture framework and XML signatures. New areas of standardization like digital preservation, cloud computing are under consideration for formulation of standards. The standards and guidelines and other information relating to e-Governance standards is available on the website http://egovstandards.gov.in


The Department of Information Technology,  has created the National e-Governance Division ( NeGD) as an autonomous business division within Media Lab Asia (MLA), under the Ministry of IT, for undertaking the Programme Management of NeGP. The NeGD facilitates and supports DIT for tasks and responsibilities assigned to them such as facilitating implementation of NeGP by various Ministries and State Governments, providing technical assistance to Central Ministries/State Line Departments, serving as a Secretariat to the Apex Committee, undertaking technical appraisal of all NeGP projects to examine issues such as overall technological framework, standards, security policy, service delivery mechanism etc. NeGD supports DIT in human resource development, training and awareness building, framing core policies, R & D, assessment.


For successful, sustainable implementation of NeGP projects, Capacity Building is a critical  component both at the programme level and at the project level. It is necessary to develop and strengthen human resources and institutional capacities. The scheme envisages providing technical and professional support to State policy and decision makers and developing specialized skills necessary for e-Governance.


The Empowered Committee for the Capacity Building Scheme has designated NeGD as the central agency for execution of the scheme. NeGD has set up a central Capacity Building Management Cell for  coordination and implementation of this scheme. One of the main components of this scheme has been the formation of professional core teams or State e-Governance Mission Teams (SeMTs) to provide inputs and support to policy makers,  executive bodies and implementing authorities in matters related to e-governance. Leadership meets for sharing the e Governance vision, strategies and successes among political and senior government functionaries and specialized training for operational level officials are being organised as part of the Capacity Building Scheme.


 NeGP definitely vouches to change our lives for the better, if not for the best. The Report card shows considerable progress and exemplary success in projects such as Railway Ticket Booking, Passport services. The success of NeGP is indeed credible in such a short span of time and has shown that significant benefits can be derived by improving accessibility, and giving assistance to various groups. The NeGP promises to bring an even brighter tomorrow by striving to touch every citizen’s life with quality, speed and efficiency coupled with greater understanding of the citizen’s needs. (PIB Features)


*Inputs from the Department of Information Technology
















(Release ID :69324)