The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Get over computer fright, Buddha tells classmates

Calcutta, Sept 14: The classroom was a five-star hotel and the headmaster was the most eager student as he urged classmates to work hard and pick up information technology skills.

“Computer-ke bhoi pele cholbe na. Sabaike sikhte hobe, amio chesta korchhi (One should not get scared of computers. Everyone should learn it, I am also trying),” Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said at a workshop on e-governance, which Bengal’s IT department organised today.

A host of senior ministers, secretaries of all the departments, heads of state-owned enterprises and district magistrates and sabhadhipatis of all districts signed up for the session, where the chief minister highlighted the inevitability of IT in governance.

“We have to provide better services to citizens and we have to use IT to meet this objective,” said Bhattacharjee, addressing the 150-plus participants at the meet.

The Centre recently released Rs 70 crore to support Bengal’s initiative to take connectivity down to the level of blocks. Bhattacharjee also highlighted the rising interest among IT companies in setting up base in Bengal and the “phenomenal growth” in software exports from the state.

“The objective of the programme was to make everyone in the administration aware of the projects in the state and convince them about the benefits from IT and motivate them,” explained IT minister Manab Mukherjee, the force behind the session.

From showcasing the success stories in governance through utilisation of IT to laying down the broad guidelines for heads of departments and districts, the three-hour programme was the first of its kind in Bengal, where the Left has a history of opposing introduction of new technology.

Such a gathering would possibly have been unthinkable even a decade ago when computers were seen to be snatching jobs. Now, a CPM chief minister is trying to create jobs by embracing the computer.

Representatives from various departments like land and land reforms, panchayat and rural development, health and family welfare made presentations to highlight how use of IT has improved performance in their work areas.

The government’s e-governance initiative in Burdwan district was also showcased.

“All the wings of the government will have to work together to improve citizen service through use of IT. We started the process of awareness development today and will pursue our goal based on a comprehensive plan,” said Mukherjee. In collaboration with IIT Kharagpur, the government is preparing a roadmap ' E-governance Vision Document 2010.

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