The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Laid-back on e-governance

Calcutta, Oct. 22: E-governance has been a favourite topic of discussion for the state government, but when its comes to participating in a workshop preceding the national seminar on e-governance, neither the IT secretary nor Webel officials seem too keen.

“Calcutta is the second of five destinations for the workshops,” said Dr K. Jayakumar, director (IT) of the central department of administrative reforms and public grievances. “We are extremely surprised at the poor response. It only goes to show the laid-back attitude of the state.”

In comparison to Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, e-governance has not taken off in Bengal. As part of its initiative, Bengal has drawn up plans to link all the panchayats and offer a host of services — from downloading tender applications and forms to giving online information — to citizens.

But the hyped e-governance project recently ran into trouble after franchisees of the government portal, Banglar Mukh, protested that the scheme, implemented in association with Tata Consultancy Services, was not financially viable and demanded compensation against their investments.

The schedule of the workshop had been communicated to the state infotech ministry by the department of IT. A morning slot was also assigned for a presentation by IT secretary G.D. Gautama.

Still, two Webel officials put in an appearance halfway through the seminar. Their excuse: they had not realised the importance of the workshop. They later said they would communicate the aim of the workshop and after discussions, arrange for a video-conference between the workshop group, Webel managing director S.K. Mitra and the state IT secretary.

The seventh national seminar on e-governance is being jointly organised by the administrative reforms and the IT departments in association with the Tamil Nadu government in Chennai between November 13 and 15.

The workshops aim to bring together representatives of the industry and state governments to decide on an agenda to use IT as a tool for good governance. After conducting all five workshops, the group will glean the key points to facilitate smooth implementation of e-governance.

“At Bangalore (where the first workshop was held), it was recommended that a working group be formed to lay down standards of e-governance and also work on inter-operability issues. There was also a demand for a framework that will allow governments to interact and provide a platform to exchange success stories,” said Jayakumar.

The other three workshops will be held at Ahmedabad, Cochin and Mussoorie.

In Calcutta, the discussions centred on compiling a knowledge base of models, tools and guidelines for required project interventions.

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