Posts Tagged ‘Dr G’

eGovernance – By Dr.Ji

September 21, 2008

In the good olden days, it used to be the pigeon who was the carrier of information (was it restricted only to love letters!), then the branch of a tree, then the wooden pen (kalam), the pen with a G nib which was required to be dipped in the ink bottle (of course a blotting paper to dry it up), the pen with a tube, the ball pen — when i switched from the ink pen to the ball pen, i remember my father would beat me saying that your handwriting will go bad, and now the e-mail. This is some distance which has been traversed. Where does it take us ??

In the early days, the Information Technology was synonymous with an instrument called computer. Then we were talking of information technology meaning sharing information through technology. Then ICT — Information and Communication Technology. I would like to add another C and make it ICCT meaning Information, Communication and Collaboration Technology. Without collaboration this will not work. Who is to collaborate with whom ? We have been looking at formulations like G2G, C2C, B2B and perhaps we have to fall into the statistical domain to work out the formulations through a formula called nCr ! The moot point is whereas the business takes care of the requirement of efficiency and productivity, it is the impact of the government system which is lagging by light years. It is bizarre wherein we boast ourself as the front runner in the field of IT, the benefit are not reaching the public at large through the use of technology. I strongly feel  it is an issue of mindset and not technology which is the impediment and it is not going to go away in a hurry as we do not want to part with our powers and the attended clout.

I also recall, the sea change which the Information Technology (i would like to call it ICCT) has brought about in positioning our country in the world map. Someone was narrating me this anecdote — there is an announcement in the flight from Helsinki to Stockholm — is there an Indian on board ? Normally, in the flight you look for a doctor. The Indian raised his hand and was promptly taken by the air hostess to the person looking for help — he asked the INDIAN, can you help me on my laptop, it is not working. It is definitely a matter of great pride from the distance we have travelled from the Indian ladies sweeping the airport at Heathrow to an announcement in the aircraft for help on technology. So far so good — the bane is the benefits of our reputation are not reaching the common citizens blocked by our egos and non-accountability. Unless the benefits go down to the people this position has only limited value — like a Twenty 20 match as opposed to test cricket. Out of 112 crore population, 22 crore people are only medically or clinically alive. For them, technology would mean only in getting a shelter and two square meals a day!!!

I also recall, while working towards the e-governance initiative in West Bengal — when i was explaining how fast the services of the municipalities would become with the implementation of technology driven system — someone told me, as of today you apply for a birth certificate and by the time it is ready, you collect your death certificate. There is a lot in this distance ! If we stop abusing people and talk to them properly, i feel it is a very important contribution towards e-governance (e may be read as efficient here). It may sound bizarre but with so many years of our occupying an eminent position in the field of IT (read software) we have light years to go in terms of translating this advantage for the larger benefit of the people. As i said, the pathbreaking initiatives in terms of reward and punishment to the states are necessary, otherwise it would be very much like the reservation for Scs and STs — extended after every 10 years. Of course, the flip side is the vote bank here which is not the case in terms of providing service to citizens. In fact, it is the reverse — the more opaque (non-transparent) system we keep we gain. People are in dark — it suits us in keeping them so !

Last week, was travelling to Delhi — the security guy had a look at my boarding pass and asked me — aap doctor hain (as it was printed on my boarding pass) ? I said yes. As i was collecting my mobile and borading pass after the check up by the security, i thought let me ask him why did he ask this question. I asked him — kyun ? He said, kai log PhD karke ghoomte hain aur apne aap ko Doctor bolte hain. It normally used to take me a minute to travel from that desk to the bus, that day it took me only 30 seconds. 
Prefix and suffix have no meaning — it is what we deliver on the ground is the key !