Public Information Infrastructure & Innovations

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Governments across the world are focused on enabling a move towards a more inclusive governance framework with a focus on social equity and development parameters. Increasingly, participative decision-making, with due systems of transparency and accountability, is being seen as the new shift in the governance architecture which would involve strong and robust public involvement in the government process. At the heart of this move towards more participative governance is the idea of democratizing access to information to citizens to ensure improved service delivery and rights’ awareness.

To realise this, there is a need for creating a framework for a robust Public Information Infrastructure (PII) in the country with adequate standards and transparency to improve governance and public service delivery and to make information available to citizens in the best possible way.

Currently, the information infrastructures in the country are marked by the lack of a national approach in planning, implementation and monitoring – especially for central programmes, due to geographical barriers and state boundaries. They are also dependent on individual initiatives and local priorities for progress at state level. Further, there is lack of integration due to the absence of common technology, standards and processes. This leads to wasteful duplication of efforts on software, development, applications, infrastructures etc. leading to high costs. These duplications and multiple delivery systems, apart from leading to high costs for the exchequer, also create a cumbersome governance experience for the citizen, and in many cases entitlements of Government public delivery programmes don’t adequately reach the intended beneficiaries.

In this context PII shall aim to democratise information, improve governance and empower citizens and communities by:

  1. Creating access, connectivity, systems, processes, programmes, structures, standards and platform
  2. Integrating geographical (Centre/State) and sectoral boundaries and applications into a single, secure National Information Space.

PII will consist of

National Knowledge Network

The NKN is a state-of-the-art multi-gigabit pan-India network for providing a unified high speed network backbone for all knowledge related institutions in the country.NKN has already been approved with an outlay of Rs. 5990 crores and is being implemented by NIC under DIT. NKN will provide network connectivity to around 1500 institutions across the country with gigabit capabilities consolidating multiple networks in the country and providing new virtual network facilities. NKN shall also create a foundation for hosting and providing access to Government applications.

Broadband to Panchayats: Whitepaper

One of the core challenges in nation building today is to create an equitable society where the citizens have universal access to information and knowledge to benefit them. The key hence, is to democratise Information and make it freely and easily available to the people at large to improve transparency, accountability, collaboration, cooperation, productivity and efficiency through broadband connectivity, especially in rural India.

With 70 per cent of India’s population residing in villages, the inclusive growth agenda of the government can only be successfully realised by addressing the growth and development issues in rural India. Towards this end, the thrust of major policy interventions, schemes and programmes of the Government of India has been towards benefiting the rural community. As the Government plans to further its agenda of inclusive growth geared towards rural India, there is an urgent need to build effective and efficient Public Information infrastructure and associated organisational and governance mechanisms which are scalable, reliable, and sustainable. Access to information will be the fundamental pillar of this new governance paradigm to challenge the current power equations premised on denial of information or limiting access to information. For the rural community to be truly empowered, information has to be placed in their hands to create a sense of ownership, awareness of rights and the ability to question the system for inefficient delivery. The key hence, is to democratise Information and make it freely and easily available to the people at large to improve transparency, accountability, collaboration, cooperation, productivity and efficiency.

E-Panchayat Experimental Sites (EPES)
Introduction

The Public Information Infrastructure programme pursues a vision of ICT-empowered panchayats: of strengthened panchayat capacities for governance and service delivery, through democratised information for transparency, accountability, collaboration, training, management and decentralised decision-making; of panchayats equipped to organise, access, and mobilise information with state of the art ICT infrastructure, architecture tools and technology.

To realise this vision at the ground level – to ensure that panchayats are successfully able to leverage broadband’s benefits – government and community agencies will need to find ways of driving and adopting ICT-enabled applications, processes, and programs at panachayats, in such core areas as government, education, and healthcare, among others. The E-Panchayat Experimental Sites (EPES) initiative seeks to provide government decision-makers with just this: a practical, informed foundation of experience, knowledge, and strategy with which to do so.

A Government of Rajasthan initiative with support from the Office of the Adviser to the Prime Minister, EPES will help create a knowledge base on how rural broadband can be leveraged effectively, to strengthen rural panchayats. Under EPES, broadband connectivity, technical infrastructure, and IT manpower is being provided to to 10 panchayats in Srinagar block, Ajmer district, on a pilot basis – building on the prior accomplishments of Rajasthan agencies (including the National Informatics Centre) in this area. These 10 panchayats will consequently offer test and demonstration sites, where applications and approaches in broadband-enabled governance and development can be assessed and show-cased. EPES focuses on two key success factors:

  1. Design and development of practical, workable, robust ideas and strategies for ICT integration with governance and developmental programmes;
  2. Demonstration, sharing, and dissemination of these ideas and strategies among panchayat and other government agencies – aiding their efforts to adopt, customise, and deploy these programmes; this would include a focus on demand motivation among rural citizens and officials for ICT-enabled services and capacity.

EPES will result in a set of approaches and assessments for broadband-enabled governance, education, and healthcare projects. These will be disseminated in various forms to officials, decision-makers, and citizens offering them input in adopting, customising, and implementing broadband application projects at rural panchayats.

Progress

A State-level EPES Project Guidance and Review Group, with representatives from various key departments from the Rajasthan government, has been formed. In its deliberations, the Group (with its Executive Committee) has identified and approved proposals for technical infrastructure and equipment, manpower, and content resources. The 10 pilot sites are currently being equipped with these resources.

Activity in government and panchayat-level education has already been kick-started: panchayat schools are being provided with ICT-enabled content, and feedback from teachers and headmasters on ICT is currently being gathered. Other areas of endeavour (particularly in government, digital literacy, and healthcare) are currently being brought online.

Smart Grid

The India Smart Grid Task Force is an inter ministerial group and will serve as government focal point for activities related to SMART GRID.

The Main functions of ISGTF pertaining to Smart Grid are:

  • To ensure awareness coordination and integration of diverse activities related to Smart Grid Technologies.
  • Practices & services for research & development of SMART GRID.
  • Coordination and integrate other relevant inter governmental activities.
  • Collaborate on interoperability framework.
  • Review & validate recommendations from India Smart Grid Forum etc.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) applications are critical to many aspects of governance and nation building and can power more open-government methods and, thereby, leverage economic and social development more effectively; help in reaching the gains of development to the intended beneficiaries; and also bring in accountability and responsibility of public and national development activities. A National GIS system will also be a core platform of the PII framework which will enable information sharing and collaboration among Government departments and between government and citizens. This national GIS architecture will map the country’s assets on the ground and improve policy planning and monitoring by encouraging sharing of information on a single platform.This Project is being overseen by Ministry of Earth Sciences and Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Member, Planning Commission and Member, National Innovation Council.

Consultations with stakeholder for a vision document on GIS is worked upon by an expert group.

Railway Modernization

A Expert Group has been constituted under the Chairmanship of Mr. Sam Pitroda to recommend ways and means to modernize Indian Railways to meet the challenges of economic growth, the aspirations of the common man, the needs of changing technology and the expanding market while at the same time ensuring adequate focus on addressing social and strategic requirements of the country in consonance with Indian Railways’ national aspirations.

The Terms of Reference of the Committee would involve outlining strategies for modernization of Railways with a focus on track, signaling, rolling stock, stations and terminals; using ICT for improving efficiency and safety; augmenting existing capacities of Railways through indigenous development; reviewing projects and addressing PPP issues

Promoting greater use of ICT in the Justice System

Related Topics  Advantage of Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS)

The office of Adviser to PM has been working with the Ministry of Law and Justice towards setting up of the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms, with a focus on use of ICT in reducing pendencies and delays. The idea of the Mission emerged at the National Consultation for Strengthening the Judiciary towards Reducing Pendency and Delays held in October 2009.

Objectives of the National Mission The National Mission spanning 5 years from 2011-2016 would focus on two major goals as envisaged in the vision document namely:

  • Increasing access by reducing delays and arrears in the system, and
  • Enhancing accountability through structural changes and by setting performance standards and capacities.

The action plan will focus on the following five strategic initiatives:

  • Policy and Legislative changes such as All India Judicial Service, Litigation Policy, Judicial Impact Assessment, Amendment in N.I. Act and Arbitration & Conciliation Act, Legal Education Reforms etc.
  • Re-engineering procedures and alternate methods of Dispute Resolution such as identification of bottlenecks, procedural changes in court processes, statutory amendments to reduce and disncentivize delays,Fasttracking of procedures, appointment of court managers and Alternate Dispute Resolution.
  • Focus on Human Resource Development such as filling up of vacancy positions in all courts of judges and court staff, strengthening State Judicial Academies, Training of Public Prosecutors and ICT enablement of public prosecutors offices, strengthening National Judicial Academy and Training of mediators.
  • Leveraging ICT for better justice delivery such as implementation ofE-courts project, integration of ICT in the judiciary and use in criminal justice delivery and creation of National Arrears Grid.
  • Improving Infrastructure such as improving physical infrastructure of the District and subordinate courts and creation of special / additional courts like Morning / Evening Courts, Family Courts and GramNyayalayas.

Another step in the direction to promote greater use of ICT in the Justice System is the e-Courts Projects, a Mission Mode Project under the Ministry of Law and Justice.

The Government is implementing this project for computerization of District & Subordinate Courts in the country and for up gradation of ICT infrastructure of the Supreme Court and the High Courts under the e-Courts Mission Mode Project (MMP).

Under the project, 12000 courts in 2100 court complexes are expected to be computerised by 31.3.2012 and 2249 courts in 969 court complexes are expected to be computerized by 31.3.2014.  The total estimated cost of phase I of the project is Rs. 935.00 crore.  The National Informatics Centre (NIC) is the implementing agency of the project.

An E-Committee of the Supreme Court was constituted which is chaired by the Chief Justice of India to give overall policy directions to fulfilment of e-court programme.  An Empowered Committee has been constituted in the Department of Justice to provide strategic direction and guidance to the e-courts Mission Mode Project.  This Committee also has representative from the E-Committee of the Supreme Court. To know more about the project, visit the e-courts website

The office of Adviser to PM is building upon the above concept, in consultation with the various stakeholders, to put together a draft paper on the Courts of Tomorrow. The Courts of Tomorrow initiative will put the best in class ICT tools in the hands of judges and the registrars, to aid them in the dispensation of justice. This initiative seeks to act as a force multiplier to the on-going ICT enablement initiatives of the Judiciary.

Smart Grid

    The Adviser to the PM chairs India Smart Grid Task Force (ISGTF)an interdepartmental, cross-functional group convened by the Ministry of Power. The Task Force will serve as government focal point for activities related to Smart Grids for India.

    Primary ISGFT functions, pertaining to Smart Grids, include, inter alia:

    • Ensuring awareness, coordination and integration of diverse activities related to Smart Grid Technologies.
    • Practices and services for research and development of Smart Grids.
    • Coordination and integration of other relevant inter-governmental activities.
    • Collaboration on an interoperability framework.
    • Review and validation of recommendations from India Smart Grid Forum.

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    Raja Raja Cholan
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