The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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State comes second in e-governance

Jamshedpur, Feb. 1: Jharkhand has found a place among three states identified for their “stupendous work” in e-governance in the information technology sector last year.

If that appears stranger than fiction, the IT secretary, R.S. Sharma, actually left for Kochi this evening to receive “the second prize” for the state from Union communication and IT minister Dayanidhi Maran.

“We are of course thrilled,” exulted chief minister Arjun Munda, “though we still do not know which are the other two states being awarded and which state beat us to the first place.”

But Munda, who has steadily increased allocation for the IT department, appeared satisfied that results have finally started showing.

The Union IT ministry, claimed sources in the capital, sends its teams to every state to physically verify the work being done by them. Also, the states are required to document their efforts in the IT sector and submit a report to the Centre every year. Based on these reports, the Union ministry ranks three states and publicly recognises their efforts. This is the first time that the state has found a place in this league.

Ironically, this appears to be the first time Jharkhand has bagged any prize while competing with other Indian states. “We have been participating in international trade fairs, tourism fairs and so on but the Jharkhand pavilions never bagged any recognition,” admitted officials grudgingly.

Elated officials in the IT department said the award would spur them to aspire for the top slot next year.

The state IT department had embarked last year on an ambitious project to “network” all districts and departments. Besides, the department had created an information system for the chief minister to access any part of the state, any official and any development project from the state headquarters. Work on both projects, said sources, are nearing completion.

The department had also undertaken the task of computerising the treasuries and district transport offices. The commercial taxes department, too, had been “networked” and the head office provided with computer links to all district offices. It launched the computerisation of the police department last year besides computerisation of land records. Video-conferencing facilities were provided not only to all secretaries but also to jails and district courts. It also took up an ambitious training programme to familiarise employees with computers and eliminate the “fear factor”.

The department, indicated a pleased chief minister, will receive a higher allocation in next year’s budget with an even more ambitious task of setting up a technology park.

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