LIVE Loknath Behera on how ICT can help manage security p22
ASIA’S FIRST MONTHLY MAGAZINE ON E-GOVERNMENT
November 2010 > ` 75/VOLUME 06 n ISSUE 11 n ISSN 0973-161X www.egovonline.net
Lend a banking hand India’s financial inclusion aims will be met only when made-for-the-poorest products get rolling pg.16
can it rain for the
government? private cloud can be a safe bet for governments p26
too many positives
rfid can help in patient care and upkeep of medical assets p38
Less reasons now to shy away from inclusion
CT continues to be leveraged to migrate banking and financial services from the traditional to electronic mode. When done completely, it holds myriad opportunities for expanding the current cover of banking and finance from urban to rural areas and proofing it against several leakages. A recent report from the global management consultancy firm McKinsey has observed that the government can save up to `1 trillion through the adoption of electronic payment. Out of a total leakage of one trillion rupee, almost `71,000 crore happens from the government welfare programs. Currently, around `13 trillion flows between the government and individual households, including subsidies and social services to citizens. The report says that adoption of e-payments will help increase transparency of financial transactions and accelerate financial inclusion. No country can afford to leave a sizable population of its country—in case of India it is almost 60 percent—from banking and financial coverage. The unavailability of any kind of financial services in general, and formal banking services in particular, has been one of the major reasons of the wide-scale persistence of poverty in many parts of rural and urban India. Linking financial exclusion with poverty, the Rangarajan Committee report on financial inclusion (2008) has clearly stated: “The poorer the group, the greater is the exclusion.” On the positive side, in his February 26, 2010 budget speech, the Union Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee outlined for the first time a deadline to functionalise effectively the various financial inclusion initiatives which include appropriate banking facilities to habitations having population in excess of 2,000 by March, 2012, and insurance and other services to the targeted beneficiaries. The introduction of banking correspondent (BC) and facilitator model by the Reserve Bank of India for providing banking extension services to rural areas in 2006 and the recent directives (January 2010 and September 2010) on making the retailers and for-profit organisations eligible to work as BCs is an appreciable move. Nevertheless, courtesy the indifferent attitude of most of the bankers towards inclusive banking, these efforts have yielded little positive results. Also, the inability of banks in seeing a business proposition in financial inclusion has been one of the biggest bottlenecks, while the leveraging of technology for conducting humongous micro transactions is yet to pass the litmus test. Yet, to ensure rapid, equitable, inclusive and healthy social and economic development, it’s as important to provide the financial services to the rural population as to the urban. The advancement in technology, assigning of unique ID numbers to the rural and urban residents and a serious approach towards inclusive banking could offer some concrete solutions. A one-billion plus citizenry looks up to its state for an all inclusive governance and banking.
From the history Email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get previous issues
ravi guptA Ravi.Gupta@egovonline.net
November 2010 / www.egovonline.net / egov
Contents november 2010
second grid grid name issue 06 nâ€‚ volume 11
case study A livestock Farmville How project Nandini is benefiting farmers in over 880 Orissa villages
technology Betting Big on voice? Next-gen speech technologies can help deliver citizen services better
technology Too many positives to ignore How RFID can help improve patient care and upkeep of medical assets
16 | cover story
Lend them a banking hand Indiaâ€™s financial inclusion aims will be met only when made-for-the-poorest products get rolling. ICT is the key to it...
analysis Because govt must link to all... Stock taking of the market opportunities for connectivity in govt
gov talk ALOK BHARADWAJ
technology Can it rain for govt?
On integration of paper doc with an e-workflow system
Despite scurity concerns, private clouds can be a safe bet for govt
interview Loknath Behera How technology can help stem security treats in India
interview P K Gopalakrishnan On how MindTree is building the Aadhaar application
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
analysis A market in the making The demand for Interactive White Board is growing and how
event UN takes world closer to ICT4D A report of the recent UN-GAID meeting in New York
opinion Dr Rajesh Gopal India needs a chains of mother blood banks and storage centres
further reading Editorial News industry News news world news last page
03 08 12 14 25 50
november 2010 issue 10 n volume 07
President Dr M P Narayanan
Editor-in-Chief: Dr Ravi Gupta Managing Editor: Shubhendu Parth
VP - Strategy: Pravin Prashant Product Manager: Dipanjan Banerjee
Editorial Team Dr Prachi Shirur, Dr Rajeshree Dutta Kumar Divya Chawla, Sheena Joseph, Yukti Pahwa Sangita Ghosh De, Pratap Vikram Singh, Sales & Marketing Team Debabrata Ray (+91-9899650692) Arpan Dasgupta, Fahimul Haque Bharat Kumar Jaiswal, Anuj Agarwal Vishal Kumar, Rakesh Ranjan (email@example.com) Subscription & Circulation
India at the World Stage! Receiving the second edition of eGov IT Directory (October 2010) was great. egov magazine’s effort to give information to the government about the vendors providing ICT solutions, is indeed commendable. It was good to read the company profiles of IT leaders of India, which updated me on who is doing what. The editorial has rightly pointed out that Indian IT sector has set India on the world stage. This USD 12.8 billion dollar domestic industry is surely strengthening the India government agenda to promote national growth. Well done India, well done the Indian IT sector! Subhash Kumar, Meerut
Priya Saxena, Manoj Kumar, Gunjan Singh (firstname.lastname@example.org) Graphic Design Team Bishwajeet Kumar Singh, Om Prakash Thakur Shyam Kishore Web Development Team Zia Salahuddin, Amit Pal, Sandhya Giri, Anil Kumar IT Team
Getting food security
Hope, government pays heed to this and acts.
The questions of food security and the right to food have indeed become a major concern for India. The egov article on “Food for All” has rightly pointed out the key steps that can help the country achieve this objective. Not to miss the fact that a strong political will is also needed for this.
Shaila Chaudhury, Delhi
Amitabh Mukhopadhyay, Patna
Powering India Events
egov is published by Elets Technomedia Pvt. Ltd
There is a great demand-supply gap in the power sector in India, due to the huge transmission and distribution losses. In this scenario the market potential of UPSs, batteries and inverters are booming. The article “Fallback biz is big” (October 2010) has rightly pointed out that data centres also leading to growth of global UPS market. And since the demand for data centre space is set to grow globally, UPS based power solutions are here to stay.
in technical collaboration with Centre for Science,
Chaitanya Banerjee, Bangaluru
Vicky Kalra Editorial & Marketing Correspondence egov – G-4 Sector 39, NOIDA–201 301, India Phone: +91-120-2502181-85, Fax: +91-120-2500060 Email: email@example.com
Development and Media Studies (CSDMS). Owner, Publisher, Printer: Ravi Gupta, Printed at R P Printers, G-68, Sector - 6 Noida, U.P. and published from 710 Vasto Mahagun Manor, F-30, Sector - 50 Noida, UP Editor: Ravi Gupta © All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic and mechanical, including photocopy, or any information storage or retrieval system, without publisher’s permission.
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
Great Potential Tightening budgets push large enterprises towards cheaper systems designed for small and mediumsized businesses. Sales revenue from entry-level storage systems, which cost below US$15,000, has increased by 9.9 per cent, in 2009, as per IDC research. With the growing trend of digital lifestyle, there is a large potential of storage market, as pointed out in the article “Latent Demand” (October 2010). However, it is disheartening to note that the government spending in India on storage is still low.
Securing Home This is in reference to “360 Degree Vigil” article published in Oct 2010 issue. The article highlights the significance of information security and as well as the physical security. On the latter, it is very notable that it has got a huge potential for strengthening the homeland security. Our security forces, including the police, are not well equipped to confront the challenges that a high tech–based extremism and terrorism pose onto the country. It’s high time that the government, at the centre, takes note and expedite the implementation of project like Safe State, Command and Control Centre and CCTNS. Siddharth Kishore, Ahmedabad
Household driven market The upward trend in the sales of notebooks and personal computers (PC) in India is very positive sign for the recuperating economy. One of the prime reason behind this growth is the market is being driven by the household segment rather than being confined to the business segment. The article “Getting ready for G2C play” also shows a similar increase in the shipments of peripherals including – printers and projectors. Its quite rationale that as the education and awareness about the benefits of using IT increase, further adoption of computing and peripheral devices will happen. Jitendra Parashar, New Delhi
ALOK BHARADWAJ SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CANON INDIA
Making of a digital state Integration of paper documents with an electronic workflow system has to be a cornerstone of e-Governance
ndia is today one of the fastest growing economies in the world. A strong reason for celebration is that we have proven economic pundits wrong by clocking a strong GDP growth and becoming a trillion-dollar economy. For this success to be ingrained into the nation’s collective psyche and to push the economy into a higher orbit, it is important for all of us to rewind and leverage the forces that will shape up possibly what many economic thinkers are terming as “India Decade: 2010-20.” For growth to be inclusive and sustainable, the solution lies in leveraging ICT further and allowing technology to facilitate the process of “governance to good governance with e-Governance.” For e-Governance to succeed in India and make a tangible difference in the lives of millions lying at the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid, the challenge for the government is to switch from a mindset of simple procurement agency of ICT products to one that focuses on outcomes and services. Eventually it is the inclusion of the citizen in the government functioning that will bring government services
closer to citizens and establish accountability and transparency. Since the inception of the NeGP, the nation has experienced ICT as an immense augmenter, so adopting the right technologies will enhance the government’s ‘inclusion’ agenda. The implementation of information technology, both hardware and software, in the office automation (OA) segment will require a paradigm shift. Rather than viewing OA as a market segment, it needs to be seen as an essential part of the infrastructure for economic development. It’s a reality that almost all activities in government are triggered by a paper document, followed by more documentation. This has significant impact on issues like cost, transparency, security and efficiency. For digitisation in government to be seamless, it is a must to have an effective document management solution (DMS) that securely integrates paper movement in the form of electronic workflow, while enabling secure service delivery. Government priorities today are also about ‘social and financial inclusion’ through delivery of essential G2C services. A sizeable portion of these services
need to reach the most economically backward. UID project is going to be one of the biggest enablers for that. Again, digital imaging applications like facial image capturing, scanning of current identity documents or printing of receipts to 1.2 billion people will mean colossal deployment of OA technologies. A case in point can be usage of digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras for recording identities of all employees empanelled under Employees State Insurance Corp (ESIC) or usage of high resolution scanners for digitisation of defence pension funds. Finally, any digital inclusion strategy should be duly supported by a secure printing architecture where every single copy or print is traceable and audit trail can be recorded. In fact, technology becomes relevant only when it provides applications as appropriate solutions to benefit government deliverables. Inclusion can no longer just be seen as having a device and a connection. To that measure, the endeavour has to be for a symphony of advanced hardware, intelligent software and efficient services to help India take centre stage in the world economy in the next decade.
must Read Influencer: The Power To Change Anything Author: Karry Patterson Publisher: Tata McGrawHill Price:`625/The book relates to one of the most important jobs of leaders—to influence people. Once we succeed, we can resolve many difficulties. In Governance too, the same rules apply.
November 2010 / www.egovonline.net / egov
projects people policy events products
Govt to mandate RFID cards for all toll payments Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath has said that the government will soon be making it a must for all vehicles to be fitted with RFID cards for making road toll payments. “Within 18 months we will ensure that RFID is being installed in every vehicle. It will be like a chip that you use for mobile phone. You charge it with whatever amount you want
and make the payment when required,” Nath said. All new vehicles would be coming with pre-fitted RFID chips, once the new rule comes into effect. Nath said each card would cost `70 initially and the price may go down to `50 once the chip is used on a large scale. The minister further said the RFID technology would help bring in consistency and transpar-
Orissa to make UID more inclusive, adds 12 base specs In Orissa, at least a dozen more specifications will be added to the ‘Aadhaar’ scheme for providing unique identification (UID) numbers to citizens, according to the state government. A decision to this effect has been taken at a high-level meeting attended by chief secretary, director census for the state, among other officials. The list of specifications will include documents like ration card, BPL/
APL, driving license, PAN, EPIC, passport, Kissan and credit card, LPG, Rashtriya Swasthya Vikas Yojana, pension ID and pass book numbers and NREGS data. Orissa chief secretary BK Patnaik said the work for biometric data collection for preparation of UID would start in December from eight districts in the Kalahandi-BalangirKoraput region. People are expected to be getting UID in these areas from around mid-2011.
ency to the toll collection process. “It is quite safe and most advanced technology. It can be used for various purposes.” RFID uses communication via electromagnetic waves to exchange data between an object, in this case vehicles and a terminal. The technology, generally used for identification and tracking purposes, can be used on any products, animal or person. public grievance
Karnataka to offer call centre-based RTI services Government of Karnataka will be adding telephony as a channel that can be used by citizens for Right to Information (RTI) services to enable citizens who are not computer health
e-Health cards for Uttarakhand govt employees soon Uttarakhand state government employees and pensioners will be provided with health smart cards, under a scheme that will cover two lakh employees for cashless treatment. The
UID enrolments to kick-start in Hyderabad region Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has announced that it will soon start enrolments for UID cards in Orissa, Chhattisgarh this month and in Andaman and Nicobar Islands from December.
These are all part of the Hyderabad region. The other seven regions are Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Chandigarh, Ranchi, Lucknow and Guwahati. UIDAI reportedly has a target to cover 3.11 crore
08 egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
savvy access information from government departments. It also plans to set up citizen call centres for the purpose. Citizens will also be able to register and escalate complaints through the call centre channel, which will be integrated with the public grievance management system.
people in Andhra Pradesh in the first phase, from seven districts. It would cover 50 lakh people in Chhattisgarh and the entire population of 3.5 lakh in Andaman and Nicobar by the end of the fiscal year.
facility will be available in the listed government and private hospitals across the country. The health smart card scheme will save government employees from the
hassle of arranging for cash in an emergency. Till now, the process required them to pay for their medical expenses in cash and apply for reimbursement later.
Assam to adopt biometrics-based PDS system Assam will be computerising the public distribution system (PDS) in the state and will be issuing biometric cards to the deserving PDS beneficiaries. The measure is being taken to curb diversion of PDS commodities, which
is understood to be in the range of 15 percent to 25 percent. The state government is finding it impracticable to plug the leakages in the existing system. A biometrics-based system is expected to rid PDS of its inefficiencies.
DJB to have new water billing system Delhi Jal Board, with a view to plug the gaps of a legacy billing system, will go for new water billing system through IT major Tata Consultancy Services. This was decided in a meeting of senior DJB officials, presided by Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit. The new billing system will be Web-based and allow citizens to pay their bills online. The monitoring and
tracking of water tankers will also be computerised, by installation of Global Positioning Systems on the tankers. This will help ensure timely delivery and supply of water through tankers, as a penalty would be levied in case of a lapse in service. DJB has also decided to involve private sector in installation and maintenance of water meters in select areas, to begin with.
A composite Railways card in the offing
Indian Railways is reportedly planning to come out with a composite smart card that can be used in metro, suburban and passenger trains. The authorities are in talks with other stakeholders, including banks for the composite card. The card can be utilised for e-ticketing also.
Punjab mulls online payment option for farmers Punjab government has implemented an online payment system for farmers and commission agents for food grains procured from farmers by various agencies. While Punjab Foodgrains Corporation (Pungrain) and Food Corporation of India (FCI) have already implemented the e-payment system, the Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation is expected to go live with the system in the next season.
The state government has directed that commission agents are to get the payment within 48 hours of procurement. While the state Food and Civil supplies Department has tied
Assam police to get CCTNS training labs Assam police has floated a tender for supply, installation, networking and commissioning of IT hardware for setting up 33 of Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) training labs in the state. The initiative is aimed at modernising the state police force by training them on use of state-of-the-art criminal tracking tools and technologies. The training is also expected to equip select state police personnel for the implementation of CCTNS in the state.
Once completed, it will help the police counter organised crime in the state, which has been on the rise. The state government has also constituted an eight member team including police, intelligence officers, special branch sleuths and National Informatics Commission (NIC) for creating awareness of benefits of ICT and development of basic computer skills, sources added. “This is part of the national project and once it starts functioning it
provides for a digital library, discussion forums, e-newsletter and a blog. Latest judgments of the High Courts and Information Commissions; reports, articles, guides, manuals, handbooks for various stakeholders; online certificate course
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are also available on this portal. There is facility for stakeholders to interact through dedicated and open discussion forum and register as resource
J&K goes for integrated treasury management
would help our police and intelligence officers to tackle the crime and criminals in more efficient way,” a senior Assam Police official said. The state has witnessed spurt in organised crimes being committed by criminals with interstate links and the state government is optimistic that with the roll out of the nation-wide CCTNS project, police officers would be able to track criminals who take shelter in other states after committing the crimes in Assam.
The Jammu & Kashmir government has chalked out a `27 crore plan for computerising of state treasuries. The first phase of implementation slated for the current fiscal will cover eleven treasuries, including six in Kashmir and five in Jammu division. The development of a new treasury software— Integrated Financial Management System—is being done by the state unit of National Informatics Centre.
persons. The web URL for the Portal is www. rtigateway.org.in The logo is representative of people’s empowerment through
transfer and accountability in Governance. The Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Prithviraj Chavan launched the RTI logo and portal in the presence of AN Tiwari, Chief Information Commission and Shantanu Consul, Secretary, DoPT.
RTI logo and portal launched The Right to Information (RTI) logo and portal have formally been launched. The portal will serve as a one-stop knowledge bank for information seekers, information providers, trainers, Information Commissions, students and academicians. It
up with all major nationalised and private sector banks and the government is expecting complete coverage of e-payment for commission agents by the next fiscal year.
Wipro bags IT services deal with England’s utility major
3 TB hard drive from Western Digital
Wipro Technologies has announced that it has entered into a five-year strategic partnership with Electricity North West Limited of England to deliver end-to-end service transition and transformational services to maintain their IT systems through a managed service framework. This collaboration will achieve the critical task of separation of IT operations from Electricity North West’s current service arrangement. Electricity North West owns operates and maintains the electricity distribution network throughout the North West of England. Wipro will set-up new data centres and configure virtualised and highavailability infrastructure, migrate and upgrade, where necessary, all applications supporting the Electricity North West business. Wipro will also leverage its global remote infrastructure management to provide a fully managed IT Services based on the ITIL v3 Service Integration model. education
Interactive teachers training with VSAT launched
A VSAT-enabled teachers’ training program conceived by Macmillan Publishers in partnership with Vidya Bhavan Society and the Delhibased Everonn Education was launched in nine cities across
the country. The Transformational Teacher Training Program aims at imparting conceptual clarity in key areas of primary school teaching. The nine cities being covered are Noida,
Indian firm launches pocketsized tablet device 12
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
Delhi, Patna, Guwahati, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhopal and Jaipur. Under the program, experts sit in Chennai and train teachers across the country through an interactive two-way VSAT technology. Participants are encouraged to question established facts in the light of new evidences. This opens minds to myriad ideas of making the classroom engaging and lively, said a Macmillan release.
Banglaore-based Lakshmi Access Communications Systems (LACS) has launched a pocket tablet PC, LACS Magnum, which comes with a 10.9 or 12.7 cm resistive touch screen. The device pairs with an existing phone via Bluetooth and simultaneously
Western Digital has added to its WD Caviar Green family of SATA hard drives. Its new hard drives deliver up to a massive 3 TB of storage capacity on a single drive. WD is driving capacity for SATA hard drives by utilising 750 GB-per-platter areal density and Advanced Format (AF) technology. WD Caviar Green drives are an eco-friendly storage solution with WD GreenPower technology, which reduces power consumption by enabling lower operating temperatures for increased reliability and decreases acoustical noise for quiet operation. The WD Caviar Green 2.5 TB and 3 TB hard drives are designed for use as secondary external storage and next-generation PC storage in 64 bit-based systems. WD Caviar Green 2.5 and 3 TB hard drives come with an advanced host controller interface-compliant host bus adapter, which will enable the operating system to use a known driver with correct support for large capacity drives.
utilises the FM transmitter to act as a hands-free unit while driving. Pairing with the Bluetooth on one’s GPRSenabled phone allows up to five times faster browsing of the Internet with the option of downloading and sharing attachments. Magnum allows users to
access Word, Excel, PDF and PPT documents for reading, and also comes with a Word Pad writer. It also serves as an entertainment device and can play various audio and video file formats. Its sleek single-spindle-design with WIS technology is not only large enough, but at 152
Adobe launches Acrobat X family products Adobe Systems India has launched the Adobe Acrobat X software family, comprising Acrobat X, Reader X, the Acrobat X Suite and new document exchange services. The Acrobat X family empowers professionals to innovate and create higher-quality content, driving tighter collaboration and productivity across teams in today’s dynamic business environments. The new product brings Dynamic PDF capabilities that allow businesses and governments to do more with PDF documents—create, share, review and make it interactive while leveraging security and authentication features. The company claims its all-new Acrobat
X family is the next generation of software solution that provides knowledge workers with more efficient and secure collaboration capabilities. “It delivers new guided actions to simplify multi-step document preparation and publishing processes,” Adobe said in a press release adding that the Acrobat X family has new customisation capabilities in PDF portfolios that unifies multiple file types into a compelling presentation. It further stated that the new document services available at Acrobat.com give individuals the ability to collaborate more efficiently. Integration with Microsoft SharePoint enables consistency of PDF documents across
the enterprise; re-use of content is now easier with higher quality export to Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.
Siemens, Olympus unveil sedation-less capsule endoscopy Siemens Healthcare and Olympus Medical Systems Corporation have developed a new capsule endoscopy technology for stomach examinations that allows comfortable patient procedures, without sedation. A prototype of the magnetically guided capsule endoscope (MGCE) system consists of an innovative guidance magnet, an image processing and guidance information system as well as the capsule endoscope. The patient swallows the capsule that is navigated via a joystick and a magnetic field through the stomach. The capsule wirelessly transmits images from inside the stomach to an image processing system where the doctor can view the images. The results of the first feasibility study have been published in the or 196 grams is also light enough to be carried in a pocket. Magnum also allows one to read and one’s store favourite books and also offers a collection of games. Magnum has an internal built-in memory of 2GB and extendable memory through a micro-SD card
journal ‘Endoscopy’ and note that the new technology appears to be feasible and sufficiently accurate for gastric examination and may permit endoscopic examinations that are more patient-friendly and without sedation. The capsule endoscope is approximately 31 mm long and measuring 11 mm in diameter. In a study with more than 50 people, 30 findings were detected in the stomach. Fourteen of the 30 findings were detected with both the capsule and the conventional endoscope. Ten out of 30 were located with the capsule examination only and six with the conventional endoscope only. Of the
slot of up to 16GB. Additionally, Magnum can be connected to select a USBsupported TV or projector. It’s bundled with a host of utility applications such as calculator, calendar, alarm, stop watch, torch light and files back-up, including navigation POIs, which is a unique feature.
study participants, 93 percent thought the examination comfortable, 89 percent found it easy to swallow the capsule, and regarding future examinations, all patients found the magnetically guided capsule endoscope over conventional gastrointestinal endoscopy.
Amkette launches instant sync-and-share device Amkette has launched its ‘Instant SyncShare’ Flash Link device, which enables computer users to seamlessly transfer, share and sync data between any two computers. According to the company, Amkette Flash Link is a completely boot free
and installation-free multi-purpose device used for transfer of any data from one computer to another. Movies, music and documents can now be transferred and shared at a high speed of 480 Mbps
creating backup within seconds. In addition, Flash Link allows access to CD/ DVD drives of one computer from another, making it perfect for netbook users.
November 2010 / www.egovonline.net / egov
Bangladesh to use digital maps in upcoming census
Bangladesh plans to use digital maps to identify the census enumeration areas in the upcoming
fifth population census. This was announced by the country’s Planning Minister Air Vice Marshal
(retd) AK Khandaker at a seminar organised by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) on the World Standard Day 2010 in Dhaka. Earlier, the minister said the objective of the government was to switch over to a Digital Bangladesh by 2021 and for achieving that, the government would complete computerisation and digitisation of all activities on priority basis to introduce e-Ggovernance gradually.
Nepal runs e-Village program for remote villages Makwanpur district of Nepal will soon get connected to the world through a wireless network that is being set up as part of the e-Village program. This initiative by the local District Development committee is aimed to support Magsaysay Award winner Mahabir Pun. Currently, a telemedicine trial is on, among other services. The e-Village program aims at providing
local people information about telemedicine and education services with the help of telephone, e-mail and the Internet. Five
schools that are getting service under this program have also received program that distributes laptop to each student.
Europe initiatites pilot projects to test interoperabity of e-identities
STORK, a project co-funded by the EU ICT Policy Support Programme under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), has announced that six pilots—Cross border Authentication for Electronic Services, SaferChat, Student Mobility, Cross Border eDelivery, Change of Address and Commission Services—are now available for public access. This platform enables citizens to use their national eIDs for e-Government services in several European countries. The six pilots will gradually be enhanced and will prove and test the integration into existing real live portal services of the underlying STORK interoperability platform. STORK Co-Chair Prof. Antonio Lioy has said, “The pilots will demonstrate to citizens and public administrations interoperability of electronic identities is achievable in e-Government services. They will highlight the added value citizens will receive by being able to assert their identities electronically in a protected, secure and private environment.” “The eID framework will save public money, reduce time for both government and citizens, lessen the risk of misuse or fraud and create a wealth of opportunities. It is one more step towards a borderless EU marketplace,” he added.e-identities
China adopts multi-modal approach for driving e-Governance in countryside The Government of China is exploring different and more pragmatic methods to improve e-Governance in its underdeveloped rural areas, apart from trying to spread the use
of the Internet, according to experts at the fourth International Conference on Electronic Governance held in October in Beijing. China has been encouraging its local
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
sectors to make the best use of telephones and televisions—the traditional platforms that have allowed the sharing of agricultural policies and information. Interestingly, while
more than 96 percent of Chinese rural households had access to mobile phones and televisions in 2009, years, weak infrastructure and poor education levels of the rural population have
continued to hamper the promotion of the Internet in the countryside. China has more than 700 million rural residents, accounting for over half the country’s total population.
Governance @ speed of mobility Enterprise-grade mobility and data capture solutions can help govt agencies markedly improve delivery of citizen services
ll over the world, Motorola is helping government agencies improve the overall safety and efficiency of the communities they serve—and the government workers who serve them. Our enterprise mobility solutions deliver information seamlessly to the hands of first responders and other agency personnel providing better information to support better decisions—and better outcomes. And with technology that’s second nature, workers stay focused on the mission—not the technology. A full suite of wide area, broadband and local area networks ensure always available, anywhere reliability for mission-critical workers throughout government agencies—from law enforcement and fire departments to federal and state administration, education and transportation. A suite of advanced applications enables the delivery of actionable, accurate and real-time information that field workers need to better perform their jobs. A wide range of enterprise and rugged industrial mobile computing devices with a comprehensive range of capabilities—including voice and data—allows you to choose the
most cost-effective device for each application. And regardless of how many different devices you might need to deploy, a single platform enables the centralised and remote management capabilities needed to maximize user uptime—and reduce the complexities and costs typically associated with the management of mobile devices. When it comes to mobile data capture and access, Motorola devices offer superior functionality and performance. Whether you require the ability to scan bar codes, read direct part marks, or capture images, you can count on the superior functionality and performance afforded by the company’s patented technologies. For example, sophisticated on-board software enables first-pass capture of damaged and hard-to-read bar codes, while omni-directional scanning eliminates the need to align the device with the bar code for true point-and-scan simplicity. An innovative aiming frame enables the easy first-time capture of images. And a wide range of accessories enables the easy and cost-effective customisation of many devices to suit your specific needs.
A range of mobility applications enables the delivery of actionable, accurate and real-time information for inspectors or administrators
When it comes to mobile data capture and access, Motorola devices offer superior functionality and performance, thanks to its patented technology
Motorola mobile computers offer a robust platform to ensure the power to handle the most demanding application, in the office or in the field. For applications ranging from database access to video playback, these devices offer the operating systems, processing power, memory and storage architecture needed for dependable and rapid access to enterprise data. With Motorola as your trusted partner for your mobility solutions, you get the benefits of an industry leader with over 70 years experience in wireless
communications and 30 years in developing advanced enterprise-class mobile computing devices—and a long history of proven innovative technology that allows it to offer the next evolution in mission-critical government mobility solutions. Put a Motorola device in the hands of your first responders, inspectors and administrators today, and get the power you need to improve departmental efficiency and the delivery of citizen services—and to better protect your communities and the lives of your citizens.
November 2010 / www.egovonline.net / egov
Lend them a banking hand India’s financial inclusion aims will be met only when made-forthe-poorest products get rolling. ICT is the key to it...
By Pratap Vikram Singh
inancial inclusion is high on the government’s agenda. With acts and schemes like Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee (MGREG), Right to Education and Right to Information in place, there is serious talk about providing access to financial services to the aam aadmi. Though there is clarity at the conceptual level in government policy making and also in the banks on including the financially excluded—around 60 percent of the country’s population—nothing substantial seems to have happened at the grass-root level. Assigning of UID numbers to both rural and urban citizens and a serious approach towards inclusive banking could bring out some concrete results. It’s been 63 years since India got independence and more than 40 years since a number of banks got nationalised, yet a mere 5.2 percent of the country’s villages have access to banking centres. The unavailability of any kind of financial ser-
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vices in general and formal banking services in particular, is considered one of the important reasons for wide-scale persistence of poverty in many parts of rural and urban India. In this context, financial inclusion can be seen as the availability of no-frills financial services and products including bank accounts, credits, micro loans, overdrafts and insurance for poorer sections of the society, to help them come out of the clutches of poverty, at very affordable costs.
R S Sharma Director General, Unique Identification Authority of India
“If the bank account is linked with UID, the payments and transactions under employment schemes, micro-insurance and micro-credit could be easily managed by banks”
A sorry state of exclusion According to the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data, 45.9 million farmer households in the country, that is 51.4 percent, do not access credit, either from institutional or non-institutional sources. Moreover, despite the vast network of bank branches, only 27 percent of total farmer households are indebted to formal sources, of which one-third also borrow from informal sources. These statistics are a reality, despite measures such as nationalisation of banks, incorporation of cooperative movement, promotion of regional rural banks, and nurturing of self-help groups in different states. The introduction of banking correspondent and facilitator model by the Reserve Bank of India for providing banking extension services to rural areas in 2006 yielded little for inclusive banking, thanks to the indifferent attitude of most of the bankers. According to an estimate, though the banks in India have around 600 million accounts, many individuals have multiple accounts and so the actual number of people having bank accounts would be between 200 and 250 million. Shankar Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Department of IT, Government of India lamented on the poor state of financial inclusion, “Despite all our efforts in 60 years, we have not been able to provide financial services in rural areas. We did cajole banks, but despite all our efforts, not much progress has been made so far.” The Reserve Bank of India has been a key driver of financial inclusion. In January 2006, it came up with the business correspondent and facilitator model, wherein banks could choose agents who could travel to the rural clients and enrol them for a no-frills bank account, using handheld biometric devices. The business correspondent should be a person belonging to an organisation under Section 25, which is strictly a non-profit organisation. The model was seen as one that could bring a revolution in the rural banking, which hitherto has been neglected.
Shankar Aggarwal Joint Secretary, Department of IT, Government of India
“With ICT, the transaction cost would come down heavily. From a transaction cost of `50 with the manual systems, the technology has reduced the cost to a fraction of rupees” In September 2010, RBI sanctioned that business correspondents could be from forprofit organisations too. Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his budget speech in Lok Sabha set March 2012 as deadline to provide basic banking and financial services to aam aadmi. This has furthered the hope that rural areas would no more be devoid of financial services. Ajay Singh, CEO, Forbes Technosys views the commitment from the government as positive, “In recent days, we have seen a deep commitment from Government of India to provide financial cover for 60 percent of the population. The government has a clear focus on impacting and improving the service delivery mechanism which would lead to upliftment of the socially and economically deprived groups of our population. It is also persistent in providing multiple channels of delivery to citizens.” Dr KT Arasu, Director at Alternative for India Development (AID), a non-profit organisation setting up Common Services Centres in the Palamu region—one of the most backward regions of the country, besides having the
lowest penetration of banking services—in the state of Jharkhand, opined that there is huge gap between the policy and practice when it comes to financial inclusion.
ICT as an enabler Technology can be a big enabler of financial inclusion. It is unarguable that opening of brickand-mortar bank branches in all the remote and country-side regions is not economically viable. Now, with the advancement made in information and communication technology, the extension of banking services is feasible even in places where the bank doesn’t have a physical branch or can’t afford to have one. “With ICT, the transaction cost would come down heavily. From a transaction cost of `50 with the manual systems, the technology has reduced the cost to a fraction of rupees,” Aggarwal said. Industry has come a long way in providing core banking solutions—enabling customers to operate their accounts from any branch in the country. Because of a ubiquitous Internet, customers can do the transactions without even physically going to the branch. Banking technologies have been creatNovember 2010 / www.egovonline.net / egov
Vishnu Dusad Managing Director and CEO, Nucleus Software
SMART CARDS lead the way
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“Making micro transactions reliable is a challenge. Solutions for facilitating inclusive banking have to have high robustness and reliability”
Rajeev Arora President, Projects and Implementation, Financial Inclusion Network & Operations Ltd
“Banks don’t see financial inclusion as business proposition and it is a major hurdle which still persists despite talks about banking for the ‘aam aadmi”
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
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ing buzz for quite some time. Core banking solutions (CBS) have translated the dream of ‘anywhere, anytime banking’ into a reality. A back-end system that processes daily banking transactions and updates the accounts and other financial records, CBS has helped in improving operations, reducing costs and spurring growth. However, the application of CBS in enabling inclusive banking would be an area to be dwelt upon, since hosting of inclusivebanking applications will be involved. Also, to ensure successful micro-transactions at the rate of 99.99 percent, the robustness and reliability of the hardware and software must be extremely high. When processing the transaction request of a small amount for a low-income group person, the system must not go down, since a tiny amount is all that the person would have in the account. While a middle- or high-income group customer can afford a failed transaction, a person belonging to low-income group just can’t.
UID and CSCs as propellers While technology is an enabler, the UID project would accelerate the process of financial inclusion, given that UIDAI would be providing reliable and robust authentication of citizens, which could be leveraged by banks. With this, banks could save heavily on the
Having 5,000 empanelled
customer acquisition cost. Additionally, UID would facilitate easy acquisition of more and more customers to the banks. RS Sharma, Director General, Unique Identification Authority of India said, “If the bank account is linked with UID, the payments and transactions under employment schemes like MGREG, government social security schemes, micro-insurance and micro-credit could be easily managed by banks. Moreover, with the widening of the base for various payment flows, it would make a lot of business sense to the bankers.” Also, the Common Service Centres (CSC), under the National eGovernance Plan (NeGP) offer a good platform for hosting these services. Almost 2.5 lakh CSCs are to be made operational and would cover six lakh villages in the country. Due to unavailability of government-to-citizen services and lack of innovation in business-to-consumer services, CSCs are struggling hard for financial viability. With the RBI allowing for-profit organisations to be business correspondents, the path has been cleared for Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs) becoming business correspondents. CSCs in states like Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Sikkim are operational as banking kiosks and are offering various financial services to local residents.
Dr KT Arasu Director at Alternative for India Development
“Bankers should take the responsibility and scale the number of business correspondents to cover as much population as possible” Ajay Singh Elaborating on the vitality of VLEs acting as business correspondents with CSC hosting the financial inclusion services, Aggarwal said the services of cash-in, cash-out, and transfer of money from one account to another can be provided. Ultimately, the CSCs would become catalysts of change. Moreover, by acting as the agents while providing the banking and financial services to rural residents, VLEs would be socially empowered and will enjoy goodwill among the local residents. “We are trying to create to create entrepreneurship at the village level, which would result in better delivery of financial services and information, and create a conducive environment for development,” he added.
Some key challenges While technology can be used in extending banking to remote and countryside regions, ensuring the needed reliability and robustness of the system is an issue. It will be a challenge for technology and service providers to support a myriad of micro transactions with high reliability and robustness. Commenting on the significance of facilitating successful micro transactions below `100, say a `5 or `10 transaction, Vishnu Dusad, Managing Director and CEO, Nucleus Software said, “Making these humongous micro transactions reliable and robust is a challenge that the software industry needs to look into seriously. Solutions for facilitating inclusive banking have to have high robustness and reliability.” Elaborating on the gap between advancements in hardware and software, Dusad said, “The hardware has come a long way in coping up with the current demand. The software is yet to gear up. The service-oriented architecture will take the software industry to the next level. What Henry
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
CEO, Forbes Technosys
“Financial inclusion services should have three baskets—banking services, government services, and non-governmental or business-to-consumer services” Ford did to the automobile industry, by focusing on standardisation of automobile components and the processes, is what we will see 5-10 years down the line in the software industry.” Dusad further pointed out that user authentication has been a challenge, though with UID number assigned to every citizen, this may not be a problem in the times to come. He also underlined that the cost of delivery of FI services must be as low as feasible, so that banks could see inclusive banking as a sustainable model for doing business. Besides technology, one of the biggest concerns has been inability of banks in seeing a business proposition in financial inclusion. They see it more from the corporate social responsibility
perspective. Banks do open no-frills accounts, but that is not what financial inclusion all about. In many rural areas, there are no financial products for people belonging to the low income groups, as per the local necessities. Rajeev Arora, President, Projects and Implementation, Financial Inclusion Network and Operations says, “Banks don’t see financial inclusion as business proposition and it is a major hurdle which still persists despite much of the talks about providing access to banking to the aam aadmi.” The insensitivity of branch managers at local branches is a major concern. The clarity which is seen at the top levels in policy making of financial institutions for complementing the government’s inclusive development agenda completely lacks in the lower hierarchy. At the macro level, the country’s Ministry of Rural Development struggled to convince banks for enrolling wage earners under the MGREG programme and route their payments through bank accounts. The apprehensions about the sustainability of the whole inclusive banking programme and the subsequent risks involved calls for a viability gap funding from the government. It would be significant to underline the contrasts in the approaches of telecom and banking industries in tapping the rural market. While telcos did a lot of customisation in their products and services for the rural market, providing these at extremely affordable prices, banks have fallen short in tapping this market. Yet, there’s a way forward. Given the current state of FI, the target of covering aam aadmi by March 2012 may seem to be too ambitious. Banks being the major stakeholder in FI have to take the ownership. Besides, the rural areas don’t have the required financial literacy among the masses. The local banking staffs are also to be sensitised for being proactive in extending financial services to low-income groups, seeing financial inclusion as a poverty alleviation tool. Putting forth his point firmly on the behalf of FINO, which has a customer base of more than 20 million and is acquiring over 50,000 customers per day, Arora said, “We strongly recommend one district, one bank model, giving singular ownership to a bank, rather than having a service area approach for driving financial inclusion to the grass-root level. Andhra Pradesh was the pioneer state to do the same. Inter alia, the Haryana government has adopted
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this model for electronic benefit transfers.” Dr Arasu recommends, “Taking the responsibility, bankers should scale the number of business correspondents to cover as much population as possible.” It is also recommended that a high-level committee headed by the Chief Secretary should be formed at the state level which would do the regular stock taking of the work done. Another committee could be formed to bring all the stakeholders including banks, related government departments and technology providers on boards and discuss regularly on ways to work out the modalities for a complete financial inclusion in their respective states. Suggesting a convergence of all related banking services like linkage of no-frills accounts with wage payments under various government employment schemes, social services and micro credit and insurance in an integrated framework, Dr Arasu strongly put forth the case for decentralised banking, in line with the government policy on financial inclusion and regulations. Echoing Dr Arasu’s opinion, Singh of Forbes Technosys said that the basket of financial services needs to be enlarged. Categorising these services into three parts, he said the first could be providing banking services including micro finance, insurance and loans under the FI programme. The delivery of government services, wages and benefits would form the second basket of services. Finally, the third basket could be of non-governmental or business-toconsumer services. Making a strong case for including electronic benefit transfer (EBT) under the FI programme, Arora said, “To make the channel (of the extended banking services) sustainable, it is very important to broad base it with the convergence of various functions like remittance, credit, savings and micro-insurance. In fact, there must be a push to shift EBT under the financial inclusion programme, since it provides a firm base to the channel.” Noticeably, providing access to banking and financial services is the supply side of the whole picture. A much bigger question that remains is how to raise the capacities of the rural and urban poor so that they may leverage financial services and uplift themselves out of the vicious circle of poverty. The Rangarajan Committee on Financial Inclusion (2008) in its report noted, “Unless some initiatives are taken on the demand side, or in the real sectors, mere supply side solutions from the financial sector will not work.”
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Crime & Criminal Tracking Networking and Systems will increase efficiencies in police through better management of data, time, knowledge and skills
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
grid name in person
Inspector General of Police (Operations and Coordination), National Investigation Agency
“Mindless use of IT causes more problems than
it sorts out”
A 1985-batch IPS officer, Loknath Behera has been a
ow would you like to categorise and define the threats that India is facing as far as cyber security is concerned?
As in any other country, cyber space in India is becoming increasingly vulnerable. Any robust computer system can be breached, as recently the so called hackers entered into some of our IT systems. The damage they have caused needs to be assessed. But, the efforts of Government of India to address the issues in a systematic manner in recent times are to be noted. We have now an Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) which has got a legal status as per an amendment in the IT Act. India has amended the IT Act to make it technology neutral, which is very important in the context of the fast changing technology. We are increasingly going for publicprivate cooperation in security issues also. A lot of security-related research projects are on in various institutions.
Do you think India is in a position to use integrated and advanced ICT applications for handling internal and external threats? While India’s IT infrastructure may not be comparable with those of advanced countries like USA, UK or Germany, it is still quite advanced in terms of technology. Cyber security threats can be countered and many a time neutralised by using ICT applications. Many such applications are being used by security and law enforcement agencies in India, though we may require more such applications in the near future. At present, a number of advanced security and analysis tools are being used by the security and law enforcement agencies. For example, some years ago, A ‘ nalyst Notebook’ was hardly used by law enforcement agencies for analysing huge volumes of data, but this has become very common now and even advanced versions are being used on a daily basis by agencies. Some indigenous analysis tools have also been developed, which, I am sure, will increasingly be used.
recipient of President’s police medal for distinguished services. He is credited with successful investigations in a number of landmark cases, and has more recently led the team that questioned David Headley in the 26/11 Mumbai blasts of 2008. At present, he is Inspector General of Police (Operations and Coordination), National Investigation Agency (NIA), Government of India. Behera, who has been associated with computerisation in police since 1994, spoke at length with Shubhendu Parth and Prachi Shirur on usage of information technology for the improvement of law enforcement and cyber security in the country
November 2010 / www.egovonline.net / egov
time, knowledge and skills. So the police will be more efficient, which is the first requirement for security. NatGrid will help the law enforcement agencies in bringing coordinated assistance of all stakeholders in any security-related scenario.
Has NIA worked out a mechanism to collaborate and use these infrastructures?
a need to study the issues and maybe institute a research project to outline usage of GIS.
Do you think technology has answers to many of the problems that security and law enforcement agencies are facing today? Yes. But, mindless use of technology without proper standardisation causes
“We must develop IT that
can be easily used even by those in the police who are not computer
literate. A good example is the mobile phone”
NIA being a police station will also be a part of the CCTNS and will be connected to other police stations and get live data 24x7.
India has also rolled out ambitious projects like the Crime and Criminal Tracking Networking and Systems (CCTNS) and National Intelligence Grid (NatGrid). How has the progress been? The software developer for CCTNS has been approved and they are starting their work. In the meantime, all states are getting geared up by sending adequate number of police personnel for CCTNS training. The entire project is being implemented through National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) in a time-bound manner and I am sure you will have the first instances of CCTNS working in 2012. As far as NatGrid is concerned, I was told that work is in progress.
How would these help in securing the country? CCTNS will increase the efficiency of the police through better management of data,
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
getting personal CADRE 1985 batch Indian Police Service officer of Kerala cadre AWARDS President’s medal for distinguished service MAJOR PROBES Babri Masjid demolition  Purulia arms drop case  Graham Staines murder case  Haren Pandya (former Gujarat home minister) assassination case  Madhumita Shukla (writer) murder case 
Do you think there is a need for dedicated cyber police cadres at the national and state levels to deal with the scenario? As a supporter and user of technology, I am for specialisation and super specialisation in the police. Cyber police setups at district, state and national levels, comprising highly trained and skilled IT professionals, are required. It is not possible for every policeman to become specialised in cyber-related issues. Even in advanced countries, many policemen do not know fundamentals of IT. But they do have specialists.
more problems than it sorts out. Many a time, technology is used by agencies without proper thinking and therefore optimum and appropriate use does not take place. I personally feel that every police force and law enforcement agency should have an R&D division to keep abreast of developments in technology and to induct technologies that will be useful and appropriate.
While India has invested a lot in IT-enabling the police services since 1994, not much seems to have changed. What are the reasons for this slow progress? “Police is not an organisation full of technologists,” and this needs to be understood before a full-fledged computerisation programme is launched. In the past, various computerisation programmes introduced for the police had deficiencies in one way or the other and for removing those deficiencies the police had to depend on outside agencies, which is not appropriate. I am associated with the police computerisation since 1994. We must develop such applications that can be easily used even by a constable. It should be a userfriendly application like mobile telephony. A mobile phone can be operated by any person who is not computer literate.
BSNL crafts a DC strategy
The Onecloud offering, a joint foray with Datacraft, is aimed at tapping the vast data center transformation services market By Pratap Vikram Singh
harat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), the state owned telecom service provider has forayed into IT-enabled services, in partnership with Datacraft Asia, to jointly provide data centre services to both government and private-sector enterprises. With an initial investment of `200 crore, BSNL will provide the infrastructure, while Datacraft will offer the IT services. More than 300 people would be working on this joint initiative, of which 200 will be from Datacraft and 100 from BSNL. Marketing the services together under the umbrella brand Onecloud, BSNL and
Datacraft will initially present the offerings for the enterprise segment and will later foray into retail. While BSNL will be pushing the services into the government and public sector, Datacraft will be marketing it to the global and multinational organisations. “Our clients from the government, public sector and banks can now undertake data centre transformation services, using our flex-
While BSNL will be pushing the services into the government and public sector, Datacraft will be marketing it to the enterprises
ible sourcing options or simply host their entire IT assets within our secure data centres with complete peace of mind at a very competitive cost,” Gopal Das, Chairman and Managing Director, BSNL said. The data centres will come up at six locations across the country, with the first one scheduled for Jaipur, to get operational in the next six months. Other locations will be Mumbai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Ludhiana. The partnership has initially been signed for seven years, and could be further extended by three years. Viewing a lucrative market for the data centre services, Das said, “The requirement for the data centres is going to be huge. By the time you create the infrastructure and offer services, you might need to scale it up.” “You have seen expansion of voice services and now it’s going to be data,” he added Rajesh Wadhwa, Director—CFA, BSNL Board said the availability of BSNL data centres “will speed up the implementation of their [government] social programmes where IT and data centres are required. Government departments can outsource their entire data centre needs to BSNL.” The telecom major will in turn manage their IT requirements so that departments can focus more on field activities rather than having to deal with managing data centres, which requires specialised skill sets. “BSNL evaluated a number of companies before choosing Datacraft for our differentiated and unique data centre optimisation services to offer business continuity, disaster recovery and secure remote access services. This strategic alliance will position us as the leader in secure hosted and cloud data centre facilities in India, with a comprehensive range of cloud and hosted services particularly for the government and public sectors,” Dilip Kumar, COO, Datacraft Asia said. Terming the agreement as a transformational deal between the two organisations, Kumar opined the partnership was absolutely symbiotic with one offering the connectivity and the infrastructure and the other offering IT services. The Onecloud hosted and cloud services will be rolled out in several phases, and the offering will include BSNL managed co-location services, BSNL dedicated hosting services and cloud services. November 2010 / www.egovonline.net / egov
Can it rain for the govt? Issues around security, standardisation and availability for public cloud exist, but private clouds can be a safe bet for govt By Prachi Shirur
he cloud computing buzz has been around for some time now. Its biggest promise for users is that they need not own much of all the IT resources they require and can instead avail everything as a service from a third-party provider on a rental or pay-per-use basis. National Institute of Standards and Technology of US (NIST) defines ‘cloud’ as a metaphor for the Internet, to depict the Internet in computer network diagrams as abstraction of the underlying infrastructure it represents. Cloud computing has been in use for quite some time, without many users being aware of it. Examples include Google Docs, or flickr.com which allows for remote storage of images, videos or music. “The cloud concept is not entirely new, but is rather a confluence of existing and new technologies,” says Michael Mudd, Secretary General, Asia Pacific, Open Computing Alliance. Cloud computing evolution dates back to the 1960s. It is attributed to John McCarthy, a computer scientist who proposed the idea of computation being delivered as a public utility. Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) developer JCR Licklider had a similar vision in 1969, of everyone in the world being interconnected and being able to access programmes and data at any site, from anywhere.
Pluses and minuses Cloud computing results in cost savings, more reliable backups and increased scalability. Agility improves with users’ ability to economically re-provision infrastructure resources. Cost is reduced as infrastructure is typically provided by a third-party on a requirement basis and doesn’t need to be purchased outright for infrequent compute-intensive tasks. At the same time, users are able to access applications using a Web browser regardless of their location or the device they are using, be it a PC or a mobile phone.
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
Multi-tenancy enables sharing of resources and costs across a large pool of users. As Sudhir Narang, Managing Director, BT India, points out, “With more hardware available, levels of availability can be increased. When ‘boxes’ fail, others in the shared pool can take over to keep services online.” Thus, use of multiple redundant sites leads to improved business continuity and disaster recovery. Due to a centralisation of data, security is also better focused. Maintenance of cloud computing applications is easier, since these don’t have to be installed on each user’s computer and are easier to support and update. While there are several advantages of cloud computing, it is also fraught with certain risks and security and privacy concerns. Ensuring privacy and security of confidential data is therefore of paramount importance. There is also a requirement for high level of data control. In case of government, as huge volume of confidential data may be stored in the cloud,
Service on tap
Cloud computing networks, whether public or private, have the following components: Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): Traditionally in the business environment a user’s day-to-day computing resources are held in one server at one location, i.e., the infrastructure is fixed. With cloud computing, the infrastructure is provided to the user in an ‘on-demand manner.’ Platform as a service (PaaS): It builds on IaaS but with an additional layer of capability that allows organisations to develop, build, and deploy their own applications to support their own specific business needs. Software as a service (SaaS): This is where a user no longer owns the software but instead uses it when required via cloud computing. The software remains the property of the service provider and the user pays for access either by annual subscription or on a pay-per-use basis.
Michael Mudd Secretary General, Asia Pacific, Open Computing Alliance
it is equally important to ensure how data will managed and controlled to avoid any potential leakage. At the same time, there is a need to make data centres more responsive to policy needs. The data centres need to be tuned in such a way that data is shared only with the authorised person, which in itself is a big task.
A galloping market Notwithstanding the shortcomings of cloud computing, significant investments on cloud computing are happening globally. IDC estimates that the market for cloud computing in Asia Pacific excluding Japan will grow to about $1.3 billion this year and will continue expanding at a rate of about 40 percent a year until 2014. Globally, IDC estimates that by 2013, $44.2 billion will be invested in cloud computing worldwide. According to Gartner, the worldwide cloud services revenue is forecasted to reach $68.3 billion in 2010.
IDC India estimates the total domestic IT services market for the year 2010 at $6.75 billion and predicts the market to clock a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.9 percent during the five-year period 2009-2014. Zinnov Management Consulting predicts that Indian cloud computing market will grow almost ten times to reach over $1 billion by 2015. Large enterprises are on way to building private clouds. According to Dr Jaijit Bhattacharya, Director, Government Affairs, HP India, among other countries, “India, too, has begun bolstering broadband network initiatives, which will ultimately fuel greater adoption and accessibility of cloud services.” Narang of BT notes, “Rising cost is driving organisations to avail specialist services and go for an alternative model of delivery. New emerging trends like cloud computing, serviceoriented architecture (SOA) and virtualisation are creating a way for consolidation and stan-
“The cloud concept is not entirely new, but is rather a confluence of existing and new technologies”
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dardisation of IT infrastructure.”
Adoption trends Security, data availability and privacy are the big issues that need to be overcome for cloud to assume its full potential. Newly emerging standards and cloud computing best practices must dovetail together to avoid confusing customers, according to Euro Cloud UK, an industry body for SaaS and cloud vendors. From an infrastructure perspective, large organisations are primarily focusing on the private cloud to build efficiencies within their IT infrastructure and enable chargeback to their businesses. From an applications standpoint, they are exploring applications such as dealer management systems, document management systems, CRM and learning solutions. On the other hand, smaller organisations that are first-time investors in major IT solutions are looking at public clouds for endto-end propositions including mailing solutions and ERP. Industry wide alliances are on to offer end-to-end cloud computing services for enterprises.
Dynamic tool for govt Compared to private sector enterprises, the pace of adoption of cloud computing in the government sector is slow. However, public sector institutions are now increasingly exploring the benefits of having their information systems hosted at third-party data centres and are evaluating models such as software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Cloud computing leads to flexible resource allocation since
it allows IT to respond to changing demands of system administrators. As cloud services can bring new services and computing capacity online quickly, administrators can better manage risks and events such as peak demand. Since governments require massive infrastructure, cloud computing is just apt for them for mass storage and data processing and management. Cloud computing helps drive e-Governance by making things more transparent and helps bridge the digital divide by simplifying access. Governments in developing countries, by adopting cloud computing, can leapfrog transformation goals since cloud computing allows them to leverage common platforms across multiple agencies, reduce ownership of infrastructure, save taxpayers’ money; and improve citizen access to services and information. Specific to the Indian scenario, as Bhattacharya notes, public enterprises and governments can benefit greatly if this technology is used to its potential. “Projects like Aadhaar or even Indian Railways would benefit immensely from cloud computing. At a basic level, setting up of private cloud can help governments gain access to virtually scalable, centralised computing and save costs by limiting the servers and maintenance in the local data centres. It will also help in enhancing information security,” he adds.
Making it work for govt The government is aware of the benefits that cloud computing can bring and how it can be an excellent platform for fast and affordable service deployment and delivery. Dr Ajay Kumar, Chairman KSITM and Principal Secretary,
Sudhir Narang Managing Director, BT India
“Cloud computing, service-oriented architecture and virtualisation are creating a way for consolidation and standardisation of IT infrastructure” 28
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Anand Ramakrishnan General Manager, Cloud Computing Services, Wipro Infotech
“The critical factor defining the relationship between the cloud service provider and customer is transparency” Department of IT, Kerala, says, “Government agencies in India are well aware of the cloud and its potential. But they are just waiting to get it more matured and real. Cloud computing has become the most exciting development and delivery alternative in the new millennium. Right now, it is in an early phase but will continue to move into mainstream adoption, with its economic, green and scalable development and delivery mechanism.” The data centres, being set up in India as part of the National e-Governance Programme (NeGP), for server co-location, server sharing, SAN-based mass storage, mail services, Web services and enterprise management system have some inherent shortcomings. The actual capacities of data centres are often underutilised, while there are issues of over provisioning, insufficient capacity planning and sizing. “Adopting a cloud-enabled data centre may overcome some of the problems of data centres”, notes Dr Kumar. Adds Dr Bhattacharya, “There is a fairly high awareness of the term cloud computing, thanks to the coverage in various mediums.
But what is lacking is an in-depth understanding of what cloud can deliver, when it should be used and when it should not be used and what technologies need to be adopted for rolling out a cloud, private or public.” “It is the government and public sector in India, which many a time, is an early adopter of new technologies and business models and willing to take risks and try new initiatives. In case of cloud computing, the government is quite glued into this,” says PK Gopalakrishnan, Sr Vice President and India Business Head at MindTree. The Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of India, is in discussion with industry representatives on faster adoption and selection of right paths for sharing of resources. However, as Gopalakrishnan opines, “DIT will also have to do lot more convincing with the line departments at central and state levels.” Narang of BT too feels that the challenges of regulations, concerns about data security and poor Internet connections will have to be overcome by the government for optimum use of cloud computing.
Cloud flavours Public cloud: Public cloud or external cloud describes cloud computing in the traditional mainstream sense, whereby resources are dynamically provisioned on a fine-grained, self-service basis over the Internet, via Web applications
and services, from an off-site third-party provider. Private cloud: Private cloud and internal cloud (virtualisation automation) are described as offerings that emulate cloud computing on private networks. These capitalise on data
security, corporate governance and reliability. Hybrid cloud: A hybrid cloud environment consists of multiple internal and external providers. This is more typical of cloud computing for most enterprises.
Dr Ajay Kumar Chairman KSITM and Principal Secretary, Department of IT, Kerala
“Government agencies in India are well aware of cloud and its potential. But they are just waiting to get it more matured and real”
Building trust is important Some of the barriers to adoption of cloud in the government are can be attributed to diverse service level agreements (SLAs), data privacy in public cloud, open standards and interoperability, business continuity and vendor lock-in. Dr Kumar notes, “For cloud implementation, support of virtualisation in existing machines, integration with in-house IT applications, customisation, hardware and software compatibility and regulatory requirements are some of the challenges.” Security is also a major concern for the government, since it deals with lot of sensitive data. Anand Ramakrishnan, General Manager, Cloud Computing Services, Wipro Infotech, notes in this regard, “Security is a key concern for organisations that are moving to the cloud. The critical factor that defines the relationship between the cloud service provider and the customer is transparency. As long as the required levels of transparency exist between the two organisations, it will be mutually beneficial.” Ramakrishnan suggests, “To achieve this transparency the customer should define the various aspects of security that are absolutely critical for them, which is normally a short, concise list. The cloud service provider should then provide visibility to the customer on how these critical aspects are handled, including
enabling customer visits to the data centres, providing details of architecture and explaining the security setup in great detail. All these actions go a long way in establishing confidence that the service provider has not compromised on aspects that are critical for security.” Rana Gupta, Business Head, India and Saarc, SafeNet suggests, “To achieve a secure cloud environment requires a joint effort between cloud service vendors and users. Building trust with public cloud services providers while maintaining control of security policies internally are the foundation of building security in the cloud.” “Compliance to the provisions of IT ACT (Amended) of India - 2008, especially 43A and 72A, requires implementation of PKI technology and such a system is usually ready for deployment in cloud with minimal changes,” Gupta adds.
Looking ahead IT organisations are developing standards and
protocols that seek to extend security into public cloud environments. Not all IT services and applications are suited for the cloud. A service roadmap to identify cloud service opportunities based on business needs, value proposition and the ability to adopt and support those services is to be identified. According to Dr Kumar a government organisation should ideally start with non-critical applications and non-sensitive data when getting on to the cloud. His advise: “Government may adopt for private cloud only, to be built and managed within an enterprise. The idea is to utilise the maximum resources in a more scalable, flexible and lower-cost manner. With the private cloud, data can be made secured.”
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interactive white boards
A market in the making Installations are not many now but the potential is high, given the large number of government and private schools in the country By Pratap Vikram Singh
echnology is playing a vital role in modernising education systems. Among other things, interactive whiteboards (IWBs) and audiovisual equipments are emerging as powerful tools in modern teaching. IWBs are an alternative to traditional whiteboards and flipcharts. These whiteboards can connect to digital video distribution systems in educational institutions and can also be used to interact with online shared annotation and drawing environments. They offer a powerful means for integrating media elements into teaching to enhance content and support collaborative learning. IWBs attract the attention of children. The teaching of complex concepts can be simplified through these interactive boards. In organisations other than educational institutions, IWBs can be used during board and client meetings and for presentations. The notes written on these boards can be saved and circulated via e-mail.
Nascent market, healthy outlook Around one million interactive whiteboards are expected to be sold globally in 2010, according to a report by Futuresource Consulting of United Kingdom. The IWB adoption continues to gather steam, with nearly 750,000 boards sold worldwide in 2009.
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4.7% of schools across the world will use interactive white bo ards by 2011
According to the report, while one out of every hundred classrooms had an interactive whiteboard globally in 2004, the ratio has gone up to nine per hundred at present. Futuresource expects interactive whiteboard to reach one out of every seven classrooms in the world by 2011. It is forecasted that by 2011, over 4.7 percent of schools will have these boards. Interestingly, over 75 percent of the classrooms in United Kingdom have an IWB. As per the data available for 2010, India
has only one IWB in 200 classrooms. This is expected to go up to six in hundred by 2014. In 2009, overall there were 7,500 IWB in India. This year, it has grown to 16,000 and by 2011 it is expected to shoot up to 38,000. This shows a clear spur in the demand for interactive boards in the India classrooms. According to a research report by Futuresource, India provides a significant market opportunity, because of its 4.9 million classrooms spread across 1.2 million schools. Out
Worldwide IWB usage
segments Secondary education (12-16 yrs)
Primary education (5-11yrs)
Higher education (17 + yrs)
Projector: It enables the display of the computer monitor to be projected onto the whiteboard. Short-throw and ultra short-throw projectors have shown more efficiency in the operation. Track: A track allows the whiteboard to be placed in a way to provide additional wall space in the front of the room. Some tracks provide power and data as well to the whiteboard. A mobile stand is also necessary to move the whiteboard between rooms. The height should be adjustable. Printer: A printer allows copies of the whiteboard notes to be made. A slate or tablet makes it possible for students to control the whiteboard from the room. Personal response system: This facilitates students to answer test questions posted on the whiteboard or take part in polls and surveys. Also attached is a wireless unit through which the interactive whiteboard is connected to a computer and operates wirelessly. Remote control: This allows the presenter to control the board from different parts of the room and eliminates on-screen toolbars.
Types of whiteboards Interactive whiteboards are sold in wide varieties based on the technology and the usage. Resistive: These whiteboards are composed of two flexible sheets coated with a resistive material and separated by a micro-thin air gap. This technology allows one to use a finger, a stylus, or any other pointing device on the surface of the board. Electromagnetic: These work on magnetic sensors that react and send a message back to the computer when they are activated by a magnetic pen. A number of wires are attached to the computer from the board. However, there are other alternative and emerging sensing technologies as well. Optical and infrared: The whiteboard surface responds to the pressure created by the finger and marker through infrared light. This technology allows whiteboards to be made of any material, and with this system no dry-erase marker or stylus is needed. Embedded dot patterns: Here, the whiteboard surface has a microscopic dot pattern embedded in the writing surface where a wireless digital pen with an infrared camera reads the dot pattern to determine the exact location on the board. Capacitive: Just like the electromagnetic type, the capacitive type works with an array of wires behind the board. In this case however the wires interact with fingers touching the screen instead of an electromagnetic pen. Laser: These whiteboards react to infrared laser beams that sweep across the whiteboard surface. The board surface is usually constructed with a hard surface like ceramic, which has long life and erases cleanly. Ultrasonic and infrared: Here, the marker or stylus sends out both an ultrasonic sound and an infrared light to the whiteboard surface that is made of any material. Ultrasonic only: These devices have two ultrasonic transmitters in two corners and two receivers in the other two corners. Touching with a pen or even the finger on the whiteboard causes these point waves to be suppressed, and the receivers communicate the fact to the controller. Frustrated internal reflection: In this case, infrared light bounces within a flexible and transparent surface. Image processing software turns the light spots observed by the cameras into mouse or pointer movements.
Adoption of IWBs in private schools is faster than in govt schools. In many European countries, it is the other way round of these, 1.6 million classrooms are in private schools, which represent a mere 19 percent of the total number of schools in the country.
Govt versus private schools Overall, there are almost as many private schools in India as there are government schools which have computers, however, the market is extremely fragmented with a vast disparity in the education system throughout the country. In most schools, IT equipment tends to be located in an IT lab as opposed to individual classrooms, thereby limiting the potential penetration opportunities for IWBs and projectors. In India, the adoption of IWBs in private schools has been speedier than in government schools. However, in many other countries including UK, Italy, Spain, Australia, Russia, it is the other way round. Governments are quite serious about IWBsâ€™ adoption and are prioritising their installations in schools and higher educational institutions. Interactive whiteboards serve the purpose of an electronic file and allow the teacher to store notes and annotations for later distribution in both paper as well as electronic format. Companies are now focusing on creating supplementing instructional material specifically designed for interactive whiteboards. When it comes to non-education segments, IWB options are still somewhat limited. However, prospects of using IWB in meeting rooms, both in the government and industry sectors quite bright. So far, IWB market stakeholders seem to have taken little interest in developing IWB offerings for the non-education streams. A potential barrier for IWB market growth is that in many Indian schools, computers are used in computer labs rather than in classrooms. Since IWBs need to be connected to computers, many schools will initially be installing a single unit (for the lab). They will require more IWB units only when computers expand from the labs into the classrooms. Given this, it may be more relevant to consider IWB penetration by schools and not by classrooms in India. November 2010 / www.egovonline.net / egov
Project Name ICT for Livestock Productivity (Nandini)
Dr Pradeep Kumar Rout
The organisation Department of IT, Government of Orissa Key People n P K Mohapatra, Revenue Divisional Commissioner—Central Division—Cuttack, Orissa n Ashok K Meena, Commissioner-cumSecretary, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department, Orissa n Satyabrata Sahoo, Secretary, Department of Fisheries and Animal Resource Development, Orissa n Dr Pradeep Kumar Rout, Director, Orissa e-Governance Services Limited (OeSL) and Principal Consultant, IL&FS ETS SCALABILITY The application can be scaled for desired expansion and contraction of resource pool. Its can be modified, added, or removed, to accommodate changing loads
By Prachi Shirur
A livestock Farmville
Project Nandini has turned cattle breeding into an integrated process that’s benefiting farmers in over 880 Orissa villages
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amani Ranjan Mohanty, a farmer from Mandasahi village in Jagatsinghpur district, used to face much problem in ascertaining the right time for check-up of his cows or to know the peak yield time or causes of repeat breeding. He had little knowledge about trimming down the calving interval and stopping milking for betterment of the next procreation. Thanks to Project Nandini, now Ramani is one of the successful dairy farmers in the district and is investing more in his dairy farm owing to his confidence and level of encouragement through Project Nandini. No wonder, then the man on the feild is upbeat about about the growing productivity, and better returns. “Performance recording and proper maintenance of farmer’s handbook and provision of SMS alert for attention on the animal due for artificial insemination, pregnancy diagnosis, expected date of delivery, de-worming, vaccination, peak yield point and dry-off have all resulted in prolific dairy farming,” Mohanty says. Prior to the implementation of the project, veterinary services had a fire-brigade approach. The productivity of dairy animals was poor due to non availability of animals with good breeding value and lack of proper management practice, which rendered dairy farming a non-remunerative enterprise. There was no or inadequate animal recording system. At the same time, there was lack of awareness at farmers’ level on how to enhance the productivity of their livestock. Also, there was inadequate public
infrastructure and logistics to reach the farmers in time of need.
Project objectives, implementation Project Nandini has been implemented by the Orissa Computer Application Center, Technical Directorate of IT Department, Government of Orissa, in two blocks of Jagatsingpur district—Jagatsingpur and Balikuda. The ICT for Livestock Productivity project, popularly called Nandini, aims to improve productivity of livestock by establishing a system of animal identification, registration, performance recording and monitoring. The project has been sponsored by UNDP through the Department of Information Technology, Government of India and subsequently by the Government of Orissa. Infrastructure support like PCs, UPSs, printers, furniture and Internet connectivity have been provided to all veterinary dispensaries, frozen semen banks and call centres along with the Chief District Veterinary Office of the project area. The stratification of livestock activity into the services domain ensures that investments in livestock will lead to sustainable development. Around this core infrastructure, veterinary services are being reoriented from curative to preventive, through village herd health and productivity management. Implemented in February 2009, the service delivery centres have been extended up to village level to enrich appropriate and on-time services at the door steps of livestock farmers in the project area. The services will be linked to the product marketing agency so that the cost of services can be recovered and farmers are not required to pay directly. The project covers 387 villages of Jagatsinghpur district and about 500 villages of Cuttack and Mayurbhanj districts of Orissa. Project Nandini involves the use of ICT in veterinary science for effective service delivery to farmers and to systematise the productive life cycle of crossbred cows. The conceptualisation of the project happened at a forum of IT and veterinary professionals more than a year ago. The project envisions reduction of inter-calving period and adoption of appropriate breeding policy in the state. A Web-based portal for producers, consumers, marketers, and policy makers has been developed, which facilitates a decision support system (DSS) to government departments and functionaries for planning of different interventions and assured service delivery to dairy farmers. There is a provision for data capturing, warehousing and analysis capabilities with public animal husbandry institutes, such as semen banks, district artificial insemination centres, veterinary dispensaries, diagnostic laboratories and university professors. A database of nearly 45,000 cattle along with details of their owners and contact information has been created. All data uploaded in the soft-
Tech@use Application: Web-based application using 3-tier architecture— Linux, Apache, MySql and PHP Database: MYSQL Version 5.0.51a Hardware: Dell Xeon Server 3.0 Resources: DreamWeaver 8.0, Web YOG 8.0 Platform: OS—Linux, Application Service—Apache
THE IMPACT Farmers get timely information regarding animals due for peak yield, oestrus and pregnancy diagnosis, animals to be dried off, animals due for parturition, those to be vaccinated and de-wormed
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ware are being updated. Each animal is uniquely identified and monitored for oestruation and for special supplements and other health-related needs. The system works proactively as well as in response to a call from the farmer to a designated call centre. Besides, a village livestock resource repository for crossbred animals has also been developed as part of the solution. This is aimed at meeting the needs of different stakeholders like government, business houses, marketing agencies, and financing agencies. The project also establishes an inventory management system for semen banks along with demand forecasting. According to Dr Pradeep Kumar Raut, Director, OeSL, “We decided to develop a decision support system for farmers, veterinary doctors, and policy makers at the state level. The project can run through NeGP infrastructure which is in place and it can be sustained through collection of nominal user fee from farmers.” He further informed that the solution helps the department send a fortnightly ‘to-do list’ to the service providers. The service providers also get SMS alerts on selective and need-based services. Besides, there is a web-based application that has been developed using PHP technology and hosted through Apache Web server. The entire application is based on role-based security, starting from stakeholders at the gram panchayat level to those at the state level. The application has been enabled to send bulk SMSs to farmers and other stakeholders on vital information reproductive cycle, preventive nutritional treatment and vaccination. Similarly, the application has the capability of receiving responses from stakeholders through SMS which automatically triggers the closure of
a problem or a referral service. A toll free telephone number has been provided to redress the grievances of farmers.
Capacity building exercises Capacity building trainings have been imparted to service providers, officers of veterinary dispensaries, Livestock Inspectors (LIs) and Gomitras in a phased manner. The fieldlevel enumerators engaged for the project work have also been trained in the two blocks on the dos and don’ts by domain experts and trainers. The survey enumerators including supervisors and livestock inspectors were trained prior to commencement of the survey work in the project area. At the same time, the farmers and the community has been sensitised on systematisation of animal reproduction cycle through intervention of IT. Village and block-level meetings have been conducted, involving livestock farmers, Panchayati Raj institutions, general public and service providers. Similarly, workshops and seminars have been conducted with participation from professionals like directors and officials from Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science departments of Orissa and domain experts from Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology. Further, the help desk services and SMS services have effectively sensitised the communities in the project area. Ashok K Meena, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department, Orissa and Former state IT Secretary remarks, “The initiative can confidently help by identifying wide-scale cost reduction opportunities and managing cost reduction inputs such as manpower and mobility cost of the beneficiaries. It has been designed to implePradeep Kumar Mohapatra Revenue Divisional Commissioner—Central Division—Cuttack, Orissa
“Technological change in the livestock sector can generate more employment opportunities for resource-poor households and help alleviate poverty” 34
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Ashok K Meena Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department, Orissa
“The initiative has been designed for sustainable improvements in cost structures, adjusting service delivery models and redesigning business models that can help farmers” ment sustainable improvements in cost structures, to streamline infrastructures and adjust service delivery models and redesign business models that can help farmers.” Sums up Pradeep Kumar Mohapatra, Revenue Divisional Commissioner—Central Division—Cuttack, Orissa and Former IT Secretary, “Technological change in the livestock subsector can generate more income and employment opportunities for the resource-poor households and contribute towards alleviation of poverty and improvements in income distribution. Intervention of ICT in productivity is a landmark aspect of the project.”
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Betting Big on voice? Next-generation speech technologies, coupled with the mobile services revolution, can make e-Gov a truly mass phenomenon By Sunny Rao
T in governance was introduced in India during the seventies with a focus on in-house government applications. There was a deployment of ICT to manage data intensive processes such as elections, census and tax administration. IT emerged as a transforming force in the early nineties with the deployment of wider-scale applications, with an emphasis on bridging the rural-urban divide and including all sections of the society into a then developing framework of e-Governance. Gone are the days when e-Governance projects used to be for only internal government systems; today there is a high level of emphasis on government-to-citizen systems. There is a focus now on using technology to connect, network and set up systems for processing information and delivering services. Today, the urban businessman and the rural farmer are equally important targets for all e-Governance initiatives. The increase in the deployment of IT has empowered a fairly large population of Indian citizens to freely interact with various government departmentsâ€”anytime, anywhere with minimal effort. The thrust has varied across initiatives, with some focusing on enabling the citizen-state interface for various government services as some others focus on bettering livelihoods.
Govt spend on IT is rising According to Springboard Research, IT spend by government in India is expected to grow to $5.1 billion by 2011, at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 19 percent for the period 2007 to 2011. Nasscom estimates that in the next five years, state governments in India will spend close to Rs 15,000 crore on computerising their operations. It is also understood that the government in India is emerging as the fourth largest vertical spender for IT after telecom, manufacturing and banking & finance. While these figures spin an inspiring story indicating an opportunity with great potential, one also
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needs a discerning eye for the concerns that exist from a commonerâ€™s perspective. It will be counter-productive to be blinded by how much has been earmarked for spending and in the process lose sight of what can be achieved and for whom the exercise will be meaningful. Without a clear vision, huge investments in the name of e-Governance may not really contribute to improve the quality of life of citizens, despite huge potential. It is therefore important to take stock of the challenges.
A heterogeneous demography While the Indian cultural and demographic fabric is vibrant in its diversity, it also throws up stark differences. We are a nation that houses the literate, the semi-literate and the completely illiterate, all within the space of a few kilometres. Therefore finding a medium that binds the myriad consumer needs and preferences is a key challenge. Most of the current e-Governance programmes are powered by computers and broadband connections, which come to a standstill in rural areas and smaller cities that
lack the infrastructure. In this context, effectiveness of e-Governance is implicitly dependent on the e-readiness quotient of a state usually measured using the broad parameters of network access, network learning, network policy, and network economy.
Mobile as an e-Gov catalyst e-Governance must allow for easier, regular and inclusive interaction. The goal of equity needs to be achieved at many levels since the digital divide itself is a story of multiple divides. The ground realities point at the urban-rural divide and at inadequate focus on the concerns of the illiterate, the marginal farmers and women. A critical mass of people is required to push e-Governance to the next level. The unprecedented growth in the mobile telephony sector clearly shows a path. Data suggests that India is on track to realise tele-density targets and it is hearty to note that telecommunications is touching lives of people who are otherwise marginalised. According to TRAI, India had more than 584.32 million subscriptions at the end of March, 2010 which indicates that 49.6 percent of Indians were having mobile connections. The resulting opportunities are tremendous, giving citizens a chance to exploit new modes of access in newer and more innovative ways.
State m-Gov initiatives A perfect example is m-Sampark, an e-Governance initiative from the Chandigarh Administration, which enables citizens to access information on a whole range of e-Sampark services from their mobile phones by simply sending an SMS. To avail the m-Sampark services, all a citizen is required to do is to SMS â€˜SMENUâ€™ to 58888. M-Sampark provides services such as getting the electricity bill, water bill, or a list of all documents accepted for age proof and residence proof. It is really convenient for citizens to know of the different services through their cellular phones even in the absence of Internet connectivity. Another interesting example where mobile technology is being harnessed at the grass-root level to provide government service is a pilot project in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh called Anant Sampark. Set up by Harnessing Wireless Access (ASHWA), it is aimed at establishing practicable e-Governance infra-
structures that will connect rural areas with the district headquarter. Through ASHWA, villagers can apply for various records such as death, birth, income, and domicile and land over the mobile phone. The project will help in keeping a close watch on government functionaries, including teachers of primary schools in villages, Aganwadi workers and doctors posted in rural areas. It will also help the state government monitor different programs run in villages such as the mid-day meal scheme and the national guarantee employment scheme, among others. In addition, recently, Government of Madhya Pradesh has launched a pilot project using SCO Mobile Server. This enables electronic provisioning of services and access to government information using a mobile phone. Since mobile service coverage in rural areas is readily available, nearly every citizen in Indore will gain electronic access to services and information. The services include online bill payment, applying for land records, income certificates, loans, driving licenses, birth and death certificates and various government entitlement programs.
Benefits of speech technology For social mobilisation and awareness generation programmes to succeed one needs to take into consideration the demographics and local conditions for deployment that can facilitate citizen-to-government interfaces. There should be seamless access to information and also seamless flow of information. With the aim to make e-Governance services available to every citizen, the government is piloting advanced mobile technology and speech technologies to tackle the illiteracy problem. Speech being the most natural means of communication, it has provided a consummate platform for man-machine interaction. India is a country where there are numerous dialects, and people prefer using their own language to communicate. Speech recognition solutions today encompass all prominent Indian regional languages, which will go a long way in strengthening e-Governance initiatives. In rural and remote areas, citizen information services can be provided more effectively by using speech interfaces, thus effectively overcoming barriers of literacy, language and infrastructure. And it is in this context that mobile phones, supplemented by speech tech-
nology, can play a crucial role in accelerating e-Governance deliverables.
Unleashing the power of speech A recent example of speech technology in e-Governance is the deployment of speechto-text technology in Karnataka high courts to help write judgments. Government of Karnataka adopted speech technology for quick disposal of cases and to provide better services to citizens, as the shortage of stenographers was hampering the functioning of judiciary. Voice verification technologies are being used for authenticating and recording attendance in social schemes like National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). It has helped in eliminating the cases of fake attendances at NREGA. Value added services (VAS) providers have already started deploying speech-based technologies to provide better services to their customers. SBI Mutual Fund and YES Bank customer services are enabling customers to use voice instead of traditional touch-tones for self-service. This next generation IVR will be able to provide a number of services that are currently being done by agents manually. With this, the customers need not wait for agents to be available as the process gets automated and is geared for quick response.
Sustaining the momentum Speech, voice verification and text-to-speech technologies, by utilising upgraded and ubiquitous mobile infrastructure, have the power to transform the current face of e-Governance to make it a far-reaching and all encompassing wave. Rapid technological advancement and quick adoption, mainly fostered by mobile access have made social and technology inclusion achievable rather than a far-fetched dream of a developing nation. The need of the hour seems to be to harness the unexplored potential of the mobile and speech platforms. It will be important to see how governments are able to share knowledge and learning and ride on this opportunity. Finally, it will be particularly critical to note whether the disadvantaged and the marginalised can and will influence the face of e-Governance using these technologies.
the author is Managing Director, India and South East Asia, Nuance Communications
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Too many positives to ignore Benefits include improved patient care and upkeep of medical assets, and also a potential to curb fake drugs menace By Prof Akhil Chandra
he need to implement RFID technology is now widely accepted by hospitals and healthcare providers throughout the world. The rewards are huge in terms of its vital applications like tracking patients and precious assets like diagnostic and surgical instruments and drugs, and in ensuring patientsâ€™ safety. At times, during catastrophic situations like out-break of human version of mad cow disease, it is important to track the contaminated and infected equipments to avoid exposure to patients. RFID makes such tracking and identification fast and smooth. Proper protocols and use of RFID could prevent such outbreaks by ensuring instruments are properly tracked and classified. This and other RFID applications can provide significant benefits to the healthcare industry to ensure patient safety and improve supply chain efficiency.
Multi-pronged benefits RFID technology can greatly contribute to the healthcare industry with Wi-Fi and voice over IP (VoIP), creating a single information system that can track patients and hospital assets, improve patient safety, play a role in running clinical trials of drugs, manage critical care assets and hospital equipment, reduce counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products and medical errors, and cut costs to improve efficiency. Simply put, these potential applications provide advantage to healthcare industry in terms of tagging patient wristbands with ID and care information, managing distribution of medications,
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coupling with nano sensor technology to remotely monitor patients via implant, provide inventory control, and prevent theft. RFID-enabled systems tend to reduce the data-entry workload of nurses, and also let them spend more time caring for patients. Additionally, hospitals are tracking high-value assets, including wheel chairs, oxygen pumps and defibrillators. These systems reduce the time employees spend looking for assets, improve asset utilisation and enhance hospitalsâ€™ ability to perform scheduled maintenance.
RFID and its variants RFID is a wireless technology working on ultrahigh frequency (UHF) ranges. RFID system consists of transceiver equipped with an antenna, a tag and a reader acting as an intermediary between the identification and the background system consisting of computer system and
Advantages of RFID over bar code 4 RFID makes it possible to store and read large number of items simultaneously 4 The process is automatic without involving manual intervention 4 The devices are always on and ready to read 4 Code reading does not require a visual line of sight so it can take place even through the side of truck without unloading
associated software displaying the information about goods like country of origin, description, expiry date, destination, and handling details. Electronic product code is the key standard for RFID in retailing driven by EPC global which works in close collaboration with GSI. RFID tags were earlier used for marking cattle and pets and as such are not a new technology. However, during the last few years, plans encompassing entire value chain using RFID tags right from procurement of material to the finished goods available on the shelves at the point of purchase for the customers have emerged. Tags make it possible to identify each logistic unit or even each individual product and track their way through the supply chain. RFID tags are used in different shapes and sizes and their costs have been brought down to a few cents. The tags are divided in two partsâ€”active and passive. Active tags can usually be complemented with new information as they proceed in the supply chain, while passive tags are for onetime use and only send data that is stored in them initially. A passive tag draws energy from the reader whereas an active tag has its own battery. Read-write tags can be erased and used many times along with the ability to rewrite the data. Wal-Mart made the use of RFID mandatory by its top 100 suppliers at the case level.
Benefits in healthcare RFID is now generating significant interest in the marketplace because of its robust application capabilities. RFID enables healthcare facilities to improve overall safety and operational efficiency because it operates without line-of-sight while providing read and write capabilities for dynamic item tracking. Surgical instruments and other devices must be
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Applications in healthcare segment
Patient tracking: Patient identification and location assistance are often needed to ensure patient safety when urgent medical attention is needed. Patient tags with RFID chips will meet this need. Product tracking: Hospitals currently have to track health hazardous radioactive isotopes throughout the facility from storage to transport and then from administration to disposal. RFID tags and readers can automate these tasks and also save time and resources. Active RFID tags with read-write capabilities can be used to detect seal integrity for containers and individual packages. The tag can record the time and duration of seal loss, allowing even problems that occur mid-shipment to be detected. Unattended
and constant tracking can be achieved through well designed RFID systems. Inventory management: RFID can address large amounts of inventory needs to be managed in hospital operating rooms. The technology can also provide an accurate account of both official and unofficial inventory levels. Drug counterfeiting: Pharmaceutical companies, distributors, and hospitals need technology to deter drug counterfeiting. According to World Health Organisation, between five and eight percent of global pharmaceuticals are counterfeit. In some countries this percentage may still go higher, from 25 to 40 percent. Counterfeit drugs adversely affect peopleâ€™s lives. Many patients fall prey to it due
properly cleaned and packaged between uses. Tags on the instruments and readers on the sterilisation chambers and storage cabinets can validate proper cleaning and help locate needed instruments. Since medical devices are often mounted on portable carts, smart tags placed on the devices and readers installed in the doorways can enable personnel to quickly locate a crucial piece of equipment and immediately determine its fitness for use. RFID technology helps in tracking movement of medicines and items through the supply chain of enterprises helping in reduction of costs and improvement in efficiency. The movement of goods starts right from supply of raw material from initial suppliers to manufacturing unit of such companies and then movement of finished goods to customers through distribution channels consisting of dealers, wholesalers and retailers. The transportation of material in cartons and pallets to warehouses takes place via ships, rail road, air and trucks. Companies like Wal-Mart have successfully used the RFID Technology and rose to become
to its low cost. RFID tags can help detect products that are counterfeit, tampered with, adulterated or expired. Clinical trials: As new drugs go through the clinical trial phase, RFID can be used for accurately tracking patient usage. In fact, it improves the tracking of drug usage throughout the clinical-phase testing protocols. Medical device and asset tracking: Medical device companies need better control on consignment with hospitals because returns can occur more than 50 percent of the time. RFID technology that improves visibility into returns could enable faster redeployment since the company would know sooner when an unused product could be returned.
number one company in the world after beating big Conglomerates like K-Mart and Sears in their own game of retailing. RFID technology has been used by major pharmaceutical companies and retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Tesco, Metro, and Albertsons and by government departments in countries like the US.
Adoption in India In India, RFID will be used extensively across the country in near future. Apollo hospital uses RFID technology to speed checkups of the patients. As of now, the Department of Posts and Companies like BHEL have stated using RFID to track parcels. The awareness of RFID application is catching up and bar codes shall soon be replaced by far superior and potent technology like RFID with industries, utilities and service organisations like hospitals. The Author is Academic Head, Logistics and Supply Chain, Institute of Logistics and Aviation Management, Indian Clinical Research Institute ICRI
Because govt must link to all... connectivity
The core fabric should serve both—urban centres flush with high-speed links and rural sites still clinging to dial-ups By Gayatri Maheshwary
rganisations today are no longer confined to a particular territory and have sites spread across various geographies. These multiple locations need to be connected to the regional offices, and in turn to the head office, for access to enterprise data on a real-time basis. Governments’ connectivity needs are no different; it’s just that the scales are much bigger and architecture used is more complex. Consequently, the investments involved are also sizable. In fact, the government vertical has been one of the key growth segments for the network connectivity market in India for the last few years. Even during the recession, government was among the few verticals that served as a saviour of the connectivity market. The national and state e-Governance projects are expected to result in significant investments in network connectivity. According to IDC India, the government vertical is expected to register a CAGR of 16.5 percent for the period of 2009-14. Every department’s top IT agenda is to have a robust connectivity between its branches to streamline better communications, increase efficiency in the processes, reduce interference and improve overall image of the department. Officials acknowledge that the technology is November 2010 / www.egovonline.net / egov
helping them to increase revenue collections and to improve government-citizen services. Various connectivity options exist today and based on the application area or the requirement, a specific technology may be preferred over another one. Leased line: With variable bandwidth speeds, leased lines have come a long way. With leased lines, organisations can have guaranteed bandwidth needed for voice, data and video applications. Traditionally, leased lines have been favoured for real-time data re-routing as they remain one of the best options for data transfer between various locations without any packet loss. Leased lines are available in several bandwidth options from 64k to STM speeds. They provide private and secure connectivity between two or more locations in both enterprise and government networks, making them an ideal solution for connections that are time and content sensitive. Whether a customer needs to transmit voice, data or video, leased lines provide a guaranteed bandwidth option for higher throughput and lower latency over a carrier network. Leased lines provide connectivity and data transfer between the locations without any packet loss or jitter for error-free transmissions. Organisations can also use leased lines to send multiple types of traffic over the same circuit. IPLC: International Private Leased Circuit (IPLC) remains a popular option as the IPLC provide the requisite bandwidths for the bandwidth intensive applications. IPLC also makes for seamless integration of data, voice and imaging services. Organisations can use IPLC for a wide array of services including telemedicine and video conferencing. However, IPLC has major drawbacks in situations where traffic engineering and performance characteristics for different classes of traffic are required. Factors like delay and jitter can also affect an IPLC connection that can cause major drops in quality of service (QoS) levels. MPLS has an edge over IPLC on this front since it provides network administrators the ability to set the path, traffic will take through
The national and state e-Governance projects are expected to result in significant investments in network connectivity 42
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
MPLS is a forwarding-and-switching option with important benefits for IP-based services. It also features traffic engineering capabilities the network, and set performance characteristics for a class of traffic. In India, prices of IPLC are dropping as competition is being encouraged. At present, only international long distance operators (ILDOs) are allowed to sell IPLC services in India and resellers have not been permitted as the focus has been on the creation of infrastructure. VSAT: Availability of other methods of connectivity such as leased lines at lower costs and with quicker set-up time have had an adverse impact on VSAT as a popular means of connectivity. VSAT usage seems to be on the wane, and organisations are moving to other technologies. Nevertheless, the VSAT market offers considerable opportunities for both equipment vendors and satellite service providers. Growth of the VSAT market is also likely to be driven by the increasing deployments of rural telecommunications, telemedicine and distance education programs. VSATs are good to be used for applications that have low TCP handshakes and light applications such as ATMs, POS, and lottery terminals. Use of technology to stay abreast of increasing competition by enterprises in the BFSI segment has also led to more VSAT business. For example, though the cost of a debit card swipe at an ATM is around ` 6-7 per swipe, banks are still providing ATM services through VSAT. Another usage potential is in oil companies which have to collect data from petrol pumps for quality monitoring purposes. Petrol pumps in remote areas can be connected through VSAT. Regions of Jammu & Kashmir, most of the Northeast, island territories like Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshwadeep, and Daman & Diu can benefit from VSAT-based connectivity. VSAT proves to be cost effective where population density is low. Instead of setting up base stations, telecom service providers use VSAT to support networks in that area. The VSAT technology is extensively being used in the governmentâ€™s CSC scheme, under which people in rural areas will have access to various government services like land records and bill payments at kiosks connected via VSAT. RBI has asked banks to increase banking across the
country, and is encouraging them to use VSAT to connect their branches. MPLS: Companies today increasingly resort to Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS), a technology that allows service providers to virtualise their IP network infrastructure so that they can offer services to multiple parties using the same equipment. It is a forwarding and switching architecture with important advantages for advanced services that are IP-based as well as traffic engineering capabilities. These new capabilities enable service providers to provide on-the-fly services to their customers for a lower cost due to the flexibility and economy of scale. MPLS networks bring various users of these applications on a single unified platform. MPLS is the latest step in the evolution of routing and forwarding technology for the core of the Internet. It delivers a solution that seamlessly integrates the control of IP routing with the simplicity of Layer 2 switching. In the recent past, many large organisations have either switched over to MPLS-based WANs or intend to do so soon. Most businesses make the move to take advantage of different classes of services to ensure appropriate application performance. According to a Frost & Sullivan report, the MPLS-based WAN market in the last financial year was close to ` 1,400 crore and is growing at around 40 percent year-on-year. It is the fastest growing data connectivity service today. MPLS is important to organisations that need to ensure the performance of low-latency applications such as VoIP and other businesscritical functions. It is widely supported in India by all the service providers. For governments, the way forward is to make use of multiple connectivity technologies. Apart from the technologies discussed above, cellular connectivity is also an area that cannot be overlooked. Connectivity will foster and open environment that will enable new services and applications. This will mobilize an increasing number of services to be delivered online. Usability and simplicity will improve, which will benefit citizens not only in urban pockets but in rural areas as well.
In remote infrastructure management, we differentiate with a unique, innovative service delivery platform, which most others donâ€™t have
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
grid name in person
P K Gopalakrishnan
Senior Vice President and Head, MindTree India
“THE Govt haS
to think of process changes all the time”
indTree is the development partner to build the Aadhaar application, in collaboration with the technology team of UIDAI and other stakeholders. Please tell us more about this partnership, strategy and timeline.
PK Gopalakrishnan, Senior Vice President and Head of MindTree’s India operations is a veteran with extensive experience in the industry. Gopalakrishnan holds business responsibility for the Indian enterprises, defence
Well, we have been working 24/7 for the last five months on this project and have been working very closely with the technical team of UIDAI. We were selected after a rigorous evaluation process. We got qualified on account of our complete understanding of the vision and complexity of the project as well as our ability to put the best brains to work on the technical architecture and its implementation. UIDAI had clearly articulated their need to have a modular, yet scalable and open architecture. We used significant innovation in terms of architecture design, and some of the principles would never have been tried on a large-scale anywhere in the world. Our technical designers did a fantastic job. On the timeline, anytime now the first details will get issued. This is strictly for the government to decide.
and government sectors at
How well equipped is your company to deal with one of the most complex IT infrastructures to be used in the project Aadhaar?
this massive task in particular,
As mentioned before, our differentiator was the quality of our team and the passion and deep knowledge they brought to the table. We have done several complex projects internationally across diverse sectors, but this is the first time that we are doing a project of this scale in the domestic market. Besides our ‘minds,’ the rigour of our processes and the regular and consistent dialogue with the UIDAI technical team, helped. Also, we had a cart blanche from our top management to do anything to get the project going on time. So we were able to continuously draw the best resources whenever the need arose for additional help.
MindTree. The company has recently secured the application development and maintenance service contract of ‘Aadhaar’, earlier known as the Unique Identification (UID) project. Gopalakrishnan tells about this partnership, about how his company is equipped to handle and his vision regarding the company’s potential in the government sector in the coming years to Prachi Shirur
November 2010 / www.egovonline.net / egov
to other players in the arena? I will not like to say it is different. We do use shared services model and continuously build a library of incidents and problem solving approaches. However, in remote infrastructure management, we have a unique, innovative service delivery platform, which most companies don’t have. They generally use offthe-shelf products from multinationals, while we have a product, which has been developed and fine-tuned by practicing CIOs. We guarantee a specific value benefit for anyone switching over to this platform.
solutions in the video surveillance area and expect this to find ready acceptance in homeland security and also in niche areas like traffic management. We have had rare reviews on this stack, from many of the security agencies in the country.
What are some of your other government projects, if any? We are looking at the entire UID ecosystem and looking at critical need gaps. We are also selectively targeting some of the projects in NeGP.
We have done several
complex projects internationally, but this is the first time that we
are doing a project of this scale in India
What is your take regarding the role of UID for citizens in India and how optimistic are you about its success, in view of the international experiences with UID and in view of the complexity involved in such a large country as India? Well, we cannot view this as a technology project, although technology in terms of biometrics and de-duplication for a large database is critical. I think the challenges of this project, as in any government project, are the scale, the country wide rollout, challenges in getting everyone to get enrolled and finally leveraging the UID number for the objectives for which it was meant for. I don’t think we have an international benchmark here. The scale, objectives and larger purpose of issuing a UID number are different in India.
How is your Application Maintenance Services (AMS) unique as compared
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
getting personal BORN ON February 24, 1961 in Kannur, Kerala EDUCATION Mechanical engineer with MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore PASSION Pursuit of excellence in everything I do TURNING POINT Joining the Indian IT industry in 1991 FAVOURITE PASTIME Reading management books FAVOURITE BOOK Crossing the chasm by Geoffrey A Moore
How large is the AMS market in India and what is your market share?
How do you see e-Governance in India in the next five years?
I am not sure whether there is any accurate data on this. My guess is it would be approximately `2,000 crore. Our market share is low, as this is a very crowded market and we are a late entrant in the domestic market.
A lot more IT spending will happen, but the pace of project implementations has to go up. Governments have to think of process changes all the time, if e-Governance has to succeed. It is important to learn from best practices in different projects. UID is a good example of how well a project can be managed even if the timelines are stiff. I believe, more and more complex projects will get rolled out in next few years. India, for sure, will be a better governed country, thanks to e-Governance.
Tell us about your other IT solution offerings for the public sector, especially the enterprise solutions. We do consulting, customised development and package implementation. We also do infrastructure management and testing services (independent verification and validation). We are very strong in business intelligence and analytics and have frameworks in this area, which can be tweaked to suit the needs of the public sector. We are a large player in the open source arena. At the same time, we are also a Gold partner for Microsoft and have specialised in collaborative solutions around their Share Point stack. We have developed a unique stack of
How do you foresee your company’s partnership with the government sector in the coming years? Quite good. Thanks to UID project and our track record there, we now have very good credentials in the government sector. We will leverage on the learning and expect to be a preferred partner in some of the projects.
UN takes world closer to ICT4D The New York meeting focused on eNabler—the portal-cum-planning tool for achievement of Millennium Development Goals By egov Bureau
he United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN-GAID) preparatory meeting, held on September 1-2, 2010, witnessed participation of 140 representatives from 44 countries, besides those from United Nations agencies, the private sector, civil society and academia. The meeting reviewed the developments in creation of a one-stop Web portal solution—eNabler for aiding the developing countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Endorsed by the United Nations SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon, the project was conceived at the GAID Annual Meeting held in September 2009 at Monterrey, Mexico, and was given approval by the Board of the Alliance. The meeting was chaired by Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman, UN-GAID. Speaking about the potential of eNabler, Abu-Ghazaleh said in an interview with egov magazine, “We have created a web based dynamic vehicle that any development agency— from government, industry or non-profit sector can access for free and use to develop strategic plan through our strategic planner.” “This is an implementation tool, an actual vehicle—it’s like a GPS in a car. You need a driver. You need a car and you need to know where you are going. The GPS tells you how to go. So this is our GPS device for economic development,” he added.
of the Republic of Macedonia, in another video message, highlighted the continuous challenges encountered due to the fragmented information channels available. He emphasised on the need for a ‘system’ that could consolidate the wealth of information, projects and best practices available around the world and offer governments the tools and practical connections to implement projects faster and at lower costs. Ambassador Francis Lorenzo, of the International organisation for South-South Cooperation, applauded the initiative and stressed upon the importance of this product for the developing world, which so often lacks access to ICT necessary for successful and sustainable development. Drawing on the experience of and expertise of government officials, the private sector, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Chairman, UN-GAID
“It’s like a GPS in a car. You need a driver, you need a car and you need to know where you are going. eNabler tells you how to go”
Speaking at the preparatory meet, Cheick Sidi Diarra, United Nations Under-SecretaryGeneral said that the eNabler project is particularly encouraging for the African and many other developing countries, given the lack of accessibility of information to further the course of development. He said that the project could consider including a feature to track the performance of least developed and developing countries in their efforts to reach their goals. Diarra also suggested that the project could serve as a useful blueprint for the development of country-specific portals of a similar nature. Prince Hassan of Jordan, in a video message, emphasised the importance of a long-term, comprehensive and integrated view of world development, taking into account the rapid pace of change in technologies and societies. Reiterating his country’s support, Ivo Ivanovski, Minister of Information Society
civil society and a multitude of international organisations and diverse development practitioners, MDG eNabler is not just a knowledge repository but also a tool that converts raw data and information into useful and user-specific knowledge to help practitioners address various development challenges. These unique features make the MDG eNabler the first tool of its kind and a potent instrument in advancing progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Abu-Ghazaleh said, “If there is one enabler that can accelerate achievement of the MDGs, it is ICT.” He proposed to change the working name of the Project MDG eCenter to MDG eNabler, and emphasised that this project will remain the main focus and objective of UN-GAID in the coming years. Outlining a timeline for the implementation of the project, Abu-Ghazaleh said eNabler would be fully operational by early 2011. November 2010 / www.egovonline.net / egov
Dr Rajesh Gopal
Build security, end blood scarcity Well-coordinated chains of mother banks and storage centres, supported by NGOs and altruistic donors, is the way to go
ndia does have a sound national blood policy, but the absence of a fully coordinated national blood service renders a patient hapless and helpless at critical moments. In the event of a road accident or a surgical emergency, an inability on the part of patients’ relatives to organise blood may lead to a fatality. Besides, lack of access to safe blood still remains a major cause of maternal mortality in all parts of the country. Safety of blood was ushered in an effective manner after the landmark judgment from the Supreme Court of India on January 4, 1996, which led to banning of paid blood ‘donation’ by the professional blood sellers, effective January 1, 1998. The office of the Drugs Controller General of India and the respective Food and Drugs Control Administration department of the states are expected to closely monitor blood donation services in the country in liaison with the National and State Blood Transfusion Councils. The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and the State Blood Transfusion Councils have taken myriad steps to improve screening, process-
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
ing and storage of blood for utilisation by end users. But the stark reality is that there still is a severe shortage of accessible blood with varying levels of safety. There are more than 2,000 blood banks in the country. Many of these are unregulated, with profiteering often being the main motive. We need to have more and properly trained lab technicians, fewer but more efficient blood banks, and district-level agencies that can handle all the processes necessary to make safe blood available to the needy. A centralised database of ‘safe’ blood donors accessible to all, say through the Websites of the State Blood Transfusion Councils can make a big difference. In most countries in the world, including many developing countries, blood services are run by the national, provincial or local self government or by organisations like the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In our country, there is an absence of a centralised management of blood services, which results in lack of standardised practices and processes, poor quality standards, inadequacy of blood availability, and a near-complete neglect of those requiring regular transfusions
Lack of access to safe blood still remains a major cause of maternal mortality in all parts of the country
due to chronic disorders. We must plan to address the issue of blood security by setting up a centralised blood collection and processing system at the mother blood banks and storage centres, on a pilot basis. A few mother blood banks supported by organisations of voluntary donors, but run by professionals, will have to be roped in. Blood collected from voluntary blood donors will be processed using standardised and quality operating procedures at the mother blood banks. It will then be distributed to storage centres with maintenance of cold chain and stored according to standard operating procedures. Participating hospitals will simply have to indent the required units of blood from the mother blood banks or storage centres. The existing blood banks in hospitals may function as storage and cross-matching centres. A modern health care system cannot function effectively without a blood service that assures blood security to all. Access to safe blood must be perceived as a right of the patient. The author is Managing Director of Gujarat State AIDS Control Society and Gujarat State Council for Blood Transfusion
Shubhendu Parth Managing Editor eGov
www. indifference.in Both our government and corporate Websites have done little to be disabled friendly
s part of an exercise of developing parameters to evaluate user friendliness of Websites, I was shocked to see that not much effort has been made to ensure inclusion of the differently-able in the online space. Though the Guidelines for Indian Government Websites (GIGW) prepared by National Informatics Centre (NIC) do mention that Web pages should allow resizing of text without the use of assistive technology, the 115-point compliance matrix sheet has nothing to suggest on how to make Websites user-friendly for the blind, though it does take care of those with colour vision deficiency and low vision. It also mentions that while captions should be provided for all important audio content, alternative text should be provided for non-text elements like audio and video clips, images, as well as multimedia presentation for making the Website accessible to people with hearing impairment.
egov / www.egovonline.net / November 2010
Strangely, out of 83 nominations that we received for the India eGov 2.0 Awards for most user friendly online initiatives from government and public Websites in India, only one complied with the two basic principles of an accessible Website. The Kerala State IT Mission website <http:// www.itmission.kerala.gov.in/> not just allows resizing of text in five sizes—largest, large, medium, smaller and smallest—it also allows users to change the colour contrast. These tools are particularly helpful for people with poor eyesight. While many of such users require large text, others can only read smaller letters or need a highly contrasting colour scheme like yellow text on a black background. Also, unlike most of the Indian sites that have the accessibility option hidden under some obscure link, or as a ‘+’ sign somewhere above the global navigational bar, this Website has a clear link for users to reach out for these options not just on the home page but across all pages. It also meets the guideline #95 of the GIGW that states that the purpose of each link should be
clear to the user. Strangely enough, for a country that is home to the world’s largest number of blind people— 1.5 crore of the 3.7 crore people across the globe who were blind as per 2007 data—no effort, whatsoever, has been made to make them part of online revolution that the country is going through, particularly in making citizen services accessible to people anywhere and anytime through the www interface. What could be worse than the fact that the country’s most successful government sector e-commerce site—www.irctc.co.in—the online reservation system of Indian Railways, credited with bringing about a paradigm shift in government-to-citizen transactions, cannot be accessed and used by people with little or no vision. Interestingly, while the world is gearing to adopt the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 the draft of which was published on October 14 this year, both the government and public sector organisations in India are yet to adopt WCAG 1.0 standards for their websites.
RNI NO. - UPENG/2008/25234
UP/GBD - 71/2009-2011
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Published on Nov 7, 2010
[ www.egovonline.net ] egov magazine is the Asia’s first and only print-cum-online magazine on e-Governance, focusing on the use of ICTs in...