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e-governance initiatives put on fast track

New Delhi, Nov. 25: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will soon unveil an initiative that will hasten the development of e-governance in the country.

“It is a big move by the government. Initially, we will complete work with government departments like tax collection and a few others. Based on this experience, the plan will be implemented to increase government-citizen interface,” communications and information technology minister Arun Shourie said today.

The Planning Commission has cleared the proposal and expects e-governance to spread to the entire country in a few years.

Shourie, speaking at the World Economic Summit here, said the Indian information and communication technology industry should focus on supplying software and hardware to security agencies, including defence services.

“There is a huge market that is untapped by the information communication technology (ICT) sector. Instead of complaining about the 3 per cent not being spent by the government departments, they should focus on development of products like scanners and missile components for the defence services,” said the minister.

Shourie also underscored the need to develop software that can meet the threat of a cyber war by terrorist groups. There have been fears that a virus could be unleashed by terrorists to damage the power grid of a country since the entire network will be integrated by IT. “The software developers should focus on developing products that can meet such attacks.”

He also added that his ministry is in touch with the finance ministry to remove restrictions on import of second-hand computers. Till now this has been allowed only to schools.

Reacting to the backlash on IT sector particularly in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), he suggested that the developing countries should come together to block the import of goods from countries that are putting restrictions on these services.

The industry associations in India should also sensitise the Governors about the states in the United States where members have initiated a bill on IT outsourcing. “I understand that external affairs ministry is already in talks with the governors of eight states in the US to examine the issue,” he said.

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