Solution Exchange for Decentralization Community Consolidated Reply
Query: Use of Panchayat Networks, from NIC, New Delhi (Experiences).
Compiled by Alok Srivastava, Resource Person; additional research by Happy Pant, Research Officer
17 February, 2006
Original Query: by M. Moni, National Informatics Centre, New Delhi
Posted 6 February, 2006 Dear Friends, Information Technology has evolved, in recent years, as an effective tool for development planning and administration. It cannot be emphasized enough that the purpose to use IT and the groundwork needed to ‘feed’ this tool is critical to ensure its successful application. I work with the NIC and am closely involved with the implementation of the DISNICPLAN (see http://informatics.nic.in/try_dispnews.asp?newsid=112&module_number=oct_4 ) which intends using IT for micro-level planning and implementation of development programmes, at the panchayat level. The objective of the DISNIC-PLAN is aimed at
building databases, decision support systems and communication systems to upgrade the production potential of villages.
Apart from using the wired panchayat networks for information collection and analysis, there are many other uses to which these networks can be gainfully put to. There have been experiences of using such wired and wireless IT networks for effective communication, development planning and supplying useful information to the local population. Could members share their experiences and knowledge regarding efforts made anywhere in the country by Panchayats who have used these network for their development planning and administration requirements?
Responses were received, with thanks, from: 1. Kris Dev, Life Line To Business, Chennai (Response1) (Response2)
2. Alok Srivastava, UNDP, New Delhi 3. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Department of Information Technology, 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.
Government of Maharashtra Ramit Basu, National Social Watch Coalition, New Delhi T R Raghunandan, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, New Delhi Ranjit Kr. Maiti, P&RD Dept, Govt. of West Bengal, Kolkata Barenyo Chowdhury, ORG India, Kolkata Happy Pant, UNDP, New Delhi Surendra N Tripathi, Departments of PR & IT, Govt. of Orissa, Bhubaneswar Charru, IIPA, New Delhi Ashok kumar Paikaray, Mahavir Yubak Sangh, Bhubaneswar
Further contributions are welcome!
Summary of Responses Citing numerous IT initiatives taken in panchayats and rural areas, contributors have discussed the potential for using IT networks in panchayats, factors critical for their effective usage, issues crucial for their sustainability, causes responsible for unfulfilled potential in e-governance at panchayat level, and finally suggestions for realising it effectively. As explained by members, panchayats have effectively used their networks to improve their own systems like that for accounting management to speedier delivery of citizens’ services. Members, while giving examples of many successful panchayat IT initiatives, have pointed to a variety of uses that such networks have been put to. Those mentioned are Integrated Fund Monitoring & Accounting System, Gram Panchayat Management System at panchayat samity and gram panchayat level and a pilot project under NEGP in Burdwan in West Bengal. (see details) and E-Panchayat in Andhra Pradesh, which provides speedier and more efficient delivery of citizens’ services. The National Panchayat Portal (NPP) aims at developing dynamic websites for 2,40,000 panchayats in the country, and building national net – community of gram panchayats by interlinking them. This would open up many more possibilities of sharing of IT resources among panchayats. Apart from the actual uses that panchayat networks have been put to, members have also given a list of uses that they could be effectively put to. These services/uses range from licensing and no objection certificates for trade, running of shops and hotels; construction permission, property ownership records & certification, grievance petitions regarding civic services to providing ration cards, pensions etc. through panchayats. It has been pointed out that with back-end computerization by government departments/agencies there is a very good possibility of integrating their services, viz. agricultural crop guidance, agricultural
pricing, tele-medicine, Right to Information etc. in the menu of services being provided to the villagers to collection of house tax and utility bills, to serving the information needs of farmers for cultivation practices, pests and disease control, marketing information on agricultural produce, and auction rates etc. Benefits and Advantages In citing the vast range of services that panchayat IT networks are providing (or could provide) to the rural populace, respondents have also, inter alia, mentioned the broad benefits that accompany such projects/initiatives: • Keeping the gram sabha informed through dissemination of agenda, resolutions, voting record etc; circulating proceedings of gram sabhas and action taken reports; dissemination of family surveys, property lists, BPL lists, pensions, censuses; data on delivery of services in education, health, water and sanitation; database on panchayat members and staffing details. • Improving the quality, speed and sensitivity of the state delivery apparatus, enhanced participation of citizens in community affairs, assistance to disadvantaged groups and increased transparency and better governance through creative use of IT. The responses have also brought up a number of factors critical for the successful operation of IT networks and IT-based initiatives: • Projects to be designed to meet real needs, and to provide relevant, timely and authentic information. • Building financial sustainability in the project (cost sharing Public-Private Partnership model being used for CSCs or user charges concept of Gyandoot project are good examples) • Back-end computerisation by government departments/agencies to be integrated with the panchayat networks to provide relevant content in digital form (attempted through CSCs). • Reliable Internet connectivity upto village level (wireless technologies like WI-FI and WIMAX hold good promise of providing connectivity at affordable cost) • Capacities to operate and maintain the hardware and software skills. Members have also provided details of IT initiatives in rural areas that may also find application, mutatis mutandis in the panchayats. The successful ones mentioned are: Gyandoot in Madhya Pradesh, which have been set up in collaboration with panchayats, (see more), Samadhan Kendras at some places in Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. Projects like ITC e-Choupal, Manav Sadhan Vikas Sanstha, Warana Wired Village Project, and internet initiatives such as Coffee Planters’ Kiosks, ITC project are bringing farmers’ in the ambit of internet usage, simultaneously providing them useful information and services. An interesting project of the Ministry of Information Technology, to establish Common Service Centres (CSCs) in 100000 villages, is on the anvil. Members have also provided valuable suggestions for tackling difficulties/critical issues in order to ensure the workability of these IT projects. These include developing state specific models with panchayats’ participation that are simple, low on technology and may not be critically dependent on connectivity; backing these with strong infrastructural support system. As a positive outcome of the interaction, members have displayed interest in the National Panchayat Portal (know more) and web-enabled paperless office tool cited by some respondents. A member has come forward and offered to customize the e-administration solution to suit the requirements of panchayats.
Quite interestingly, some members have discussed the crucial issues related to management aspect of panchayat e-governance - having a gram panchayat level offline timely data capture module; user friendliness through language, authenticity and operators’ credibility; regular information pooling up and rolling down, availability of uninterrupted electricity and telecom connection, and hardware and software O&M support etc. As also mentioned, an important aspect relates to the building in of financial sustainability in these projects Various panchayat and rural e-governance initiatives from across the country cited by members, which provide good insight into their working and replicability are given below.
All India National Panchayat Portal (from TR Raghunandan, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, New Delhi) The National Panchayat Portal aims at developing dynamic websites for 2,40,000 panchayats in the country, and building national net – community of gram panchayats by interlinking them. As per envisaged plan states would have the option to choose scope and sequence on the basis of suggested models, and panchayats would be selected on priority based on criteria such as regional coverage, mix of strong and weak panchayats, availability of infrastructure etc. Common Service Centres (CSCs) (from Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Department of IT, Government of Maharashtra) Ministry of IT, Government of India is in the process of formulation of a plan to establish CSCs in 100000 villages in the country. These CSCs, based on PublicPrivate-Partnership model, would be providing one-stop stop citizen services to people in villages. Initially several services such as grant of certificates of birth and death, caste, and income, land records and collection of house tax and utility bills are proposed to be provided. Later, as and when back-end computerization of various departments/ agencies are done, their services will also be included in the CSCs – such as agricultural and crop guidance, agricultural pricing, tele-medicine, RTI etc. ITC e-Choupal (From Barenyo Chowdhury, ORG India, Kolkata) Launched in June 2000, 'e-Choupal', has already become the largest initiative among all Internet-based interventions in rural India. It was specifically designed to tackle the challenges posed by the unique features of Indian agriculture, is an efficient supply chain aimed at delivering value to its customers around the world on a sustainable basis. Read more Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry Samadhan Kendra Initiative (from Ramit Basu, National Social Watch Coalition, New Delhi) Samadhan Kendra, though originally set up in few regions of the country by the Ministry of Information Technology, is not a typical state run IT initiative. It has a dynamic and user friendly website in the local dialect with all relevant information that are of use to the villagers, as Local requirements were taken into consideration. Not only was the assistance through the IT means, but computer education to the
village youth turned out to be a great boost for the programme to spread to other areas and villagers coming to know about its efficacy. Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry Web-enabled Solution for e-administration (from Kris Dev, Life Line To Business, Chennai) It is a web enabled, paper-less office tool, using open source tools such as Java, JBoss as back-end, all running on Linux in government organizations in the state. It has transformed the work culture of government organizations as all incoming letters are first scanned and digitized to move electronically and attach to e-Files which get instant approval and outward letters sent. This has improved the service level and cut down the average process time by 50%. Madhya Pradesh Gyandoot (from Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Department of IT, Government of Maharashtra and Alok Srivastava, UNDP) Initiated in Dhar district, Gyandoot is an intranet network under which 20 kiosks (called soochanalayas) were initially set up in various rural centres. Each Soochanalaya caters to approximately15 Gram Panchayats and about 25-30 villages. Each kiosk would typically serve a population of 20,000-30,000 villagers and be run by a trained operator to provide a range of services for a nominal service charge, thus making information & services freely available and more transparent. See the website at http://gyandoot.nic.in/ Maharashtra From Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Department of IT, Government of Maharashtra Warna Wired Village Project, Kolhapur and Sangli Districts The joint project of NIC, Maharashtra government and Warna Cooperative Society covers a cluster of 70 villages from Kolhapur and 24 villages from Sangli district of the state with the objective of serving the information needs of farmers for cultivation practices, pests and disease control, marketing information and information on processing, bill payment position of sugarcane and dairy products. This wide area network has VSAT connectivity and dial-up connections. All villages are linked with the directorate of marketing in Pune, which facilitates farmers in getting information on rates of vegetables, fruits and other crops. Manav Sadhan Vikas Sanstha (MSVS), Rajapur In Rajapur parliamentary constituency, 105 NGOs have been brought under a platform called MSVS, which translates all government schemes on rural development into local languages and makes them available through pamphlets and the Internet, now available in villages. Internet training centres facilities are provided for e-commerce applications especially for fishermen in the area who can learn about weather patterns, market prices etc Karnataka E-Governanace in Bellandur Gram Panchayat (from TR Raghunandan, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India) Bellandur gram panchayat, made up of five small villages, was the first local body in the country to have computerized its operations. Bellandur digitized all its land records as an initiative taken by the gram panchayat itself. The panchayat put it in its
own money to buy PCs, and set up the system. Bellandur boasts of a number of IT engineers, as well as a couple of IT companies. West Bengal Software for all levels of panchayats (from Ranjit Kr Maiti, P & RD Dept, Kolkata) E-governance projects are being implemented at panchayat samity and gram panchayat level; examples are Integrated Fund Monitoring & Accounting System, Gram Panchayat Management System and the pilot project under NEGP in Burdwan. Zila parishads have also been included under the accounting software developed for the panchayat samities and zila parishad within the new accounts rules w.e.f 1 st January 2003. Read about it . Pondicherry E-platform for industrial guidance (from Kris Dev, Life Line To Business, Chennai) The e-Platform for the Industrial Guidance Bureau, Govt. of Pondicherry, integrates on a single platform, 19 departments including Panchayats and Municipalities, for granting time bound clearance for setting-up of industries in Pondicherry, by the District Industries Centre and Directorate of Industries and Commerce, Govt. of Pondicherry. (See more) Andhra Pradesh E-panchayat (from Happy Pant, UNDP, New Delhi) The project introduced IT in village panchayats in various districts of the state for better delivery of citizens’ services through computerization of all the functions of panchayats. The project software provides web-based interface to the citizen to transact with gram panchayats through kiosks. E-Panchayat comprises nearly 30 main modules for Birth and Death Registrations, House Tax Collections, Trade Licenses, Pensions, Works Monitoring, Financial Accounting; MIS for Panchayat Administration are being done in the computerized e-Panchayat system. See more Identified by Happy Pant, Research Officer Assam E-Suvidha The service is being offered in two blocks-Birsing Jarua and Agomoni-in Dhubri district of Assam. The citizen-centric services include certified copy of electoral roll, landholding certificate, income certificate for service holder, and income certificate for farmers. Goa Info Gram An IT solution that is supposed to cover village panchayat activities such as water supply, public health, family welfare, sanitation, construction and maintenance of roads, street lighting, registration of births and deaths, tax collection. Aasthi, Samanya Mahiti, Aashraya (Karnataka): Aasthi is a property tax module for Gram Panchayats. Samanya Mahiti is a general information system capturing data on about 350 parameters at the habitation level. Aashraya monitors the physical and financial progress of housing schemes offered by the Rural Housing Corporation. Touch-screen kiosks are being used for information access.
Kerala SWIFT Single Window Interface For Taluks (SWIFT) deals with certificates required for jobs, legal benefits, identities, and so on. As there are about 25 types of certificates issued from Taluk offices, people can apply for a certificate at a SWIFT counter. Orissa PriaSoft The Panchayati Raj Institutions Accounting Software (PriaSoft) is being used to monitor the accounts of district, block, and village panchayats.
From M Moni, NIC, New Delhi DISNIC-PLAN (from, New Delhi) http://informatics.nic.in/try_dispnews.asp?newsid=112&module_number=oc t_4 Disnic plan is a NICNET based distributed database for micro-level planning in India Approach paper on Mainstreaming ICT for Grassroots Level Planning http://www.solutionexchange-un.net.in/decn/resource/res_info_28110502.doc (344 KB) The paper discusses the issue of providing necessary planning and monitoring tool to PRIs. Integrated e-Platform (from Kris Dev, Life Line To Business, Chennai) http://www.pon.nic.in/open/depts/finance/lgspeech2004.pdf (120 KB) The e-platform substitutes single window clearance system to speed up the process of industrial clearance/ permission for setting up of new industrial units. E-governance for panchayats (from TR Raghunandan, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, New Delhi) http://www.solutionexchange-un.net.in/decn/cr/res17020601.ppt The presentation illustrates ideas on positioning IT as support system for panchayats explaining the range of services that are provided by them Integrated Fund Monitoring and Accounting System (IFMS) and Gram Panchayat Management System (GPMS) (from Ranjit Kr Maiti, P & RD Dept, Kolkata) http://www.egovawards2006.in/137.%20SDN%20WB%20COMPUTERISATION%20OF% 20PANCHAYATS.pdf (89KB) GPMS was the software developed for Gram Panchayat and IFMS for Panchayat Samiti & Zilla Parisahd to help give a modern direction to service delivery by PRIs to stakeholders. From Alok Srivastava, UNDP
E panchayat Initiative http://panchayat.nic.in/epanchayat2906.ppt PPT presentation on the project for delivery of citizen services in the villages through computerization of gram panchayat Exclusive web portals for gram panchayats – News Story http://www.thehindu.com/2006/01/22/stories/2006012213280400.htm The article talks about the e-bridging exercise between rural and urban Andhra Pradesh by equipping all gram panchayats in the State with exclusive web portals. From Happy Pant, Research Officer E-Panchayat Software Information http://orissagov.nic.in/panchayat/EPANCHAYAT.pdf (269KB) Details the software product developed by NIC, Andhra Pradesh taking into consideration all the information and knowledge management requirements in a Gram Panchayat. E- governance by Kerala panchayat http://darpg.nic.in/content/upload/EgovExp69.doc (23KB) Talks about panchayats in Ernakulam adopting e-governance model under decentralized planning to augment capacities of those involved in decentralized planning programme.
National Informatics Centre (from M Moni, New Delhi) http://www.nic.in/ NIC is a premier IT organization in India which provides state-of-the-art, solutions for the IT needs of the Government at all levels Life Line to Business, Chennai (from Kris Dev, Chennai) Contact Kris Dev (firstname.lastname@example.org) at B4, Ashok Suparna, 27/12, 3rd Main Road, Kasturiba Nagar, Adyar, Chennai-600020 Life Line to Business is a company that provides e-administration solutions fo0r paperless office. National Centre for Human Settlements & Environment, Bhopal (from Ramit Basu, National Social Watch Coalition, New Delhi) http://www.nchse.com/index2.htm Contact: E-5/A, Girish Kunj, Arera Colony, Bhopal, 462016, Ph: 0755-65306, 463731, 277074 An NGO working for the cause of environmental protection and developmental aspects, as well as, for the welfare of the needy, poor, the down trodden. Centre for Ecology and Rural Development, Pondicherry (from Ramit Basu, National Social Watch Coalition, New Delhi) Contact: 46, Second Street, P.R. Gardens, Reddiarpalayam, Pondicherry-605010; Phone: 0413-200908,200733, E-mail: email@example.com.
CERD is a trust funded by Pondicherry Science Forum to undertake development activities contributing to science movement's intervention in area of developmental policy Centre for Electronic Governance, Ministry of Information and Technology, Govt. of India (From Happy Pant, Research Officer) http://www.mit.gov.in/eg/locentre.htm Website features the Centre for e-governance, set up by MIT, Govt. of India, which showcases applications by IT majors like C-DAC, CMC, IQ Virtuals, MS, NIC & Oracle.
National Panchayat Portal (NPP) (from T R Raghunandan, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, New Delhi) http://panchatat.nic.in Illustrates the vision of Ministry of Panchayati Raj on linking of all panchayats to NPP, a software solution framework for managing content for local governance. Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India (from Alok Srivastava, UNDP) http://rural.nic.in/ Website of the Ministry of Rural Development – gives details of IT in Panchayats and ICT initiatives in rural areas From Happy Pant, Research Officer Website of Ramachandra Puram gram panchayat, Medak district, Andhra Pradesh http://ekpanch.ap.nic.in/pls/gpwebsitedemo/esuvidha Provides panchayat & ward members’ names, downloadable application forms pertaining to citizens services as registration of birth/death, house tax, licenses, grievance etc. Useful web links on e-Governance http://www.iitd.ac.in/iceg/links.html It offers useful links on numerous e-governance reports, best practices guide and provides a picture of status of different e-governance projects in different states of India.
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Responses in Full
Kris Dev, Life Line To Business, Chennai Response 1 I am thrilled to see your initiatives. We at Life Line to Business (LL2B) have implemented, a paper less communication and work flow solution, developed using open source tools, that can be very effectively used by Panchayats and the district administration, for creating a virtual network for development planning and monitoring the progress, leading to higher productivity in villages and quick redressal of grievances. The customized e-Platform for the Industrial Guidance Bureau, Govt. of Pondicherry, integrates on a single platform, 19 departments including Panchayats and Municipalities, for granting time bound clearance for setting-up of industries in Pondicherry by the District Industries Centre and Directorate of Industries and Commerce, Govt. of Pondicherry. You may like to see the Budget 2004-2004 address to the State assembly of the Lt. Governor of Pondicherry: http://pondicherry.nic.in and http://www.pon.nic.in/open/depts/finance/lgspeech2004.pdf (Please see Para 20). Life Line to Business (LL2B.COM), has implemented, 'e-Administration', a web enabled, paper-less office tool, using OPEN SOURCE tools such as Java, JBoss with PGSQL as backend, all running on Linux in Govt. organizations in Chennai and Pondicherry. The implementation of the tool has transformed the work culture of Government organizations and all employees right from the lowest clerk to the highest official have embraced the tool, as it simplifies their working and makes life easy for everyone. All incoming letters are scanned and digitized and from then on move electronically and attached to e-Files which get instant approval and outward letters sent. This has dramatically improved the service level and cut down the average process time by 50%. We can share this tool with interested members I would be interested in knowing more about initiatives where panchayat networks are being used for gainful purposes.
Alok Srivastava, UNDP, New Delhi I would like to relate an account of the initiative “Gyandoot” that was taken in the state of Madhya Pradesh, as an example of use of IT networks in rural areas. Panchayats could adapt use a model based on the experiences in the project. Madhya Pradesh state has been a leader in the promotion of local self-governance at the village level. Under Gyandoot, 20 kiosks –soochanalayas- were initially set up in various rural centres. Each kiosk would typically serve a population of 20,000-30,000 villagers and run by a trained operator to provide a range of services for a nominal service charge, thus making information and services more available and more transparent. The formally-stated objectives of the project were: -Ensuring empowerment of the downtrodden segments of the society and to enhance transparency. -Creating a cost-effective, replicable and financially-viable model for taking the benefits of information technology to the rural masses. -Improving the quality, speed and sensitivity of the state delivery apparatus towards the needs of the local citizen.
−Enhanced participation in community affairs and governance through creative use of information technology. −Implementing a new grass-root entrepreneurial model with participation of groups of non-traditional entrepreneurs. The services offered were: -Commodity Marketing Information Services. Prices and volumes of the local mandis (markets) of Dhar, Badnawar and Indore as well as principal national agricultural produce markets were provided daily. Prices of crops like soybean, wheat, gram and various horticulture products were quoted on the site. The local mandi rates and volumes were quoted in the morning around 11:00 am and at evening around the end of transactions. For other mandis, rates were quoted once a day. -Land Records. Cultivators need land records (khasra) for crop loans from banks. All local banks (Central Cooperative Bank, the Land Development Bank, Bank of India, State Bank of India, Bank of Indore, etc.) accepted the duly issued printouts of land records given at Soochanalaya for the purposes of their transactions. -Registration of Applications. Applications for caste, income and domicile (mool nivasi) certificates, demarcations (seemankan) and landholders passbook of land records and loans (bhoo adhikar evam rin pustika) could be e-mailed. E-mail reply was to be sent to the Soochanalaya on certificate being ready to be picked up. -Public Grievances. Complaints regarding common public grievances could be sent via Gyandoot with an e-mail reply assured within seven days. Complaints included water hand pump disorder, teacher absence, mid-day meal, scholarship sanction/disbursement, poor seed/fertilizer and employee establishment program matters (like leave or provident fund sanction) queries. -Hindi E-mail. Paperless Hindi e-mail communication was transacted between connected village level institutions, Block/District offices and Panchayat/Education/Health management information systems (PMIS, EMIS & HMIS). Gyandoot is one of relatively few e-transparency projects to have made a specific effort at trying to assist disadvantaged groups. This is seen in the choice of location (Dhar is a relatively poor, relatively rural district); in the identity of users targeted by information and service design; and in the identity of the kiosk operators (who were selected from disadvantaged groups). In part, some of its identified problems derive from – and can arguably be offset against – its attempt to reach out to the poor. The factors that spell success/failure for such initiatives are: Need of a Top-level champion, Cost sharing, Meeting real citizen needs, Provision of Infrastructure, Avoiding Process delays, and building in Financial sustainability. It is important to focus on involving communities and sustainability for such projects to succeed in the long run. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Department of Information Technology, Government of Maharashtra A number of initiatives have been taken across the country to use IT in the rural areas for land records, citizen services and agriculture. Some of them are: Warna Wired Village Project: Warna Wired Village Project in Maharashtra covers a cluster of 70 villages from Kolhapur and 24 villages from Sangli district. It is jointly implemented by NIC, Maharashtra government and Warna Cooperative Society. The objective is to serve
the information needs of farmers for cultivation practices, pests and disease control, marketing information and information on processing, bill payment position of sugarcane and dairy products. This wide area network (WAN) has VSAT connectivity and dial-up connections. All villages are linked with the directorate of marketing in Pune, which facilitates farmers in getting information on rates of vegetables, fruits and other crops. Manav Sadhan Vikas Sanstha (MSVS): In Rajapur parliamentary constituency in Maharashtra, 105 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been brought under a platform called Manav Sadhan Vikas Sanstha (MSVS). MSVS translates all government schemes on rural development into local languages and makes them available through pamphlets and the Internet, now available in villages. Internet training centres are being planned with facilities for ecommerce applications especially for fishermen in the area who, like their counterparts in Pondicherry, can learn about weather patterns, market prices. Gyandoot: The community-owned 'Gyandoot' project in Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh provides through Soochanalaya kiosks information on agriculture produce, auction rates, land records etc. It is a low cost user-charge-based-services and the expense of running it is being borne by panchayats and the communities. Coffee Planters Internet Kiosks Coffee prices, which are at record 30 year low have prompted ITC to launch a portal (plantersnet.com) for coffee planters that provides prices and market information. The portal will have Internet booths setup in the 6 – 12 months time frame to provide international coffee prices and market information to coffee growers. ITC ITC launched a project this year to bring the Internet to Indian farmers by setting up kiosks. It plans to spend Rs 10 crore ($2.14 million) on the project. ITC has set up some 100 Internet kiosks in Madhya Pradesh, the country's soybean bowl besides launching a soya portal. ITC's International Business Division deals in feed ingredients such as soymeal and rapeseed, foodgrains, coffee and marine products. Based on these experiences, Ministry of IT, Government of India (GoI) is in the process of formulation of a plan to establish Common Service Centres (CSCs) in 100000 villages in the country. These CSCs, based on Public-Private-Partnership model, will provide one-stop stop citizen services to people in villages. Initially several services such as grant of certificates of birth and death, caste, and income, land records and collection of house tax and utility bills are proposed to be provided. Later, as and when back-end computerization of various departments/ agencies are done, their services will also be included in the CSCs – such as agricultural and crop guidance, agricultural pricing, tele-medicine, Right to Information etc. Using IT for rural community has several challenges. Internet connectivity is a major issue. As of now, Internet connectivity beyond talukas is unavailable in most places. BSNL and other internet service providers have laid optical fibers mostly upto taluka levels. In the present scenario it is not economically viable to lay optical fiber cables upto villages because of lack of demand. However, recent advances in the field of wireless technologies such Wi-FI, WIMAX etc hold good promises for extending connectivity upto the villages at an affordable rates. It is expected that just like cell phones have reached rural India, wireless broadband too will emerge as a viable solution for rural connectivity.
The other challenge is content. Even if we provide connectivity to the villages, what will the villagers use the kiosk for? If the content that should come from the various departments and agencies are not ready in digital form, then usage of such kiosks will be very limited. Therefore, while efforts are being made to provide internet connectivity to villages, it is necessary that departments and agencies which aim at providing services through these CSCs should in parallel work on back-end computerization and developing contents. Ramit Basu, National Social Watch Coalition, New Delhi Analogous to the 'Gyandoot' project in MP which has been quoted by Alok, I would refer to the Samadhan Kendra initiatives originally set up by the Ministry of Information Technology through development agencies in few regions of the country like MP, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry. The Samadhan Kendra had a website of its own in the local dialect with all relevant information that are of use to the villagers. Very much like that with the Gyandoot, but Samadhan Kendra had a certain degree of autonomy of making its website more dynamic and user friendly as it was not a typical state run IT initiative. Local requirements were taken into consideration. Not only was the assistance through the IT means, but computer education to the village youth turned out to be a great boost for the programme to spread to other areas and villagers coming to know about its efficacy. It becomes very important to undertake computer related awareness in backward areas and to convince people about its advantages which help in creating further awareness. Further details can be obtained from Dr. D.P. Singh or Dr. Krishnakant from the Ministry of Information Technology, or from National Centre for Human Settlements & Environment, Bhopal; CERD Pondicherry. In fact connecting the panchayats can only be possible when there is a strong support of infrastructure at that level with block and district level connectivity or else the utility will be wasted as has happened in some regions. The corDECT technology developed by IIT Chennai and n-logue communication systems Chennai has been found useful in a couple of circumstances. T R Raghunandan, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, New Delhi There are several very useful paper-less and less paper solutions that are being used in various government environments, but I do not know of any that are operational in the Panchayat context. Unfortunately, most Panchayat e-governance initiatives are either spontaneously generated by one or the other Panchayat, (for example, Bellandur Gram Panchayat in Karnataka and Panchayats in West Bengal) or systems designed by outside agencies, for what we think, is important for Panchayats. The latter kind of projects are done in the name of Panchayats, and not for them. The unfulfilled potential of Panchayat e-governance continues because we do not sit down with them and design a project specifically for their use (this has to be a state specific exercise). Most of the e-governance solutions for Panchayats have to be simple, low on technology and may not (as opposed to the popular impression) depend critically on connectivity.
I have a small presentation on ‘E-governance for Panchayats’ (it can be viewed at http://www.solutionexchange-un.net.in/decn/cr/res17020601.ppt). Members might find it useful; I would particularly suggest slides number 5 to 7, which explain the range of services that are provided by most gram Panchayats - these would be the subject of paperless solutions. It would be great if any of the members can work on paperless solutions for Panchayats - maybe we can pilot it in some willing State. Kris Dev, Life Line To Business, Chennai Response 2 I refer to my previous reply wherein I had mentioned an e-administration paperless communication solution developed by us. In response to Mr. Raghunandan’s reply I would like to offer to customize the e-administration solution to suit the requirements of panchayats. Ranjit Kr. Maiti, P&RD Dept, Govt. of West Bengal, Kolkata In West Bengal we are implementing e-Gov projects at Panchayat Samiti (PS) and Gram Panchayat (GP) level. We have covered 60 Panchayat Samities for Integrated Fund Monitoring and Accounting System and set up Gram Panchayat Management System in 144 GPs. Besides we have already covered 14 Zilla Parishads out of 18 for the Accounting software developed both for the PS and ZP within the New Accounts Rules w.e.f. 1.4.2003. Some of the other initiatives in e-governance at the panchayat level are: • Recently under National e-Governance Programme (NeGP) a pilot project is going on in Burdwan district which will cover 31 PS, 277 GPs of that district with connectivity up to GPs under West Bengal State Wide Area Network (WBSWAN). Under NEGP all the PSs are to be connected by 31st Dec 2006. Citizen Service Centres are being piloted in 13 GPs of 6 districts for testing the contents and also to assess the needs of the people so that we can customise the content according to the needs. The CSCs are to deliver services of various categories but this will be a continuous one depending on the needs of the people and also on the connectivity. The softwares developed for the GPs covers public services like Birth and Death Certificates, Trade certificates, Assessment of taxes- collection thereof, Annual plan, General information about the GP areas,
If you would like to have a look into our softwares so far developed for GP, PS and ZP, we can send you the synoptic views for information. Barenyo Chowdhury, ORG India, Kolkata Thanks for sharing the excellent model of national panchayat portal, but could you share with us the revenue model which would possibly be required for sustenance. My concern is that these should not become static web pages. Number of visits to a site is decided by the relevance and timeliness of the information. For e-governance the authenticity of the information is of paramount
importance to the users. Hence data collation and uploading are two very crucial issues which have a recurring cost attached. A self funded / financed revenue model would perhaps be better than the proliferation of Information Technology horizon with only “technology” and very little “information”. For example, population figures in the district portals of NIC selectively still use 1991, 2001 (provisional) and 2001 (final) data, using the “most recent data” when the site was created. This is an information updation lethargy one would notice on corporate, voluntary and government sites also (lest we blame government alone). Would it not be pertinent to have a GP level offline timely data capture module to ensure "information" availability first, as annual audits of the GPs are not always undertaken, here too there may be information lag coupled with lethargy. Technology and connectivity are controllable problem. The other issues to be reviewed for obtaining the economies of scale and cost optimisation: • Regular information pooling up and rolling down (access and security) • Availability of infrastructural support (uninterrupted electricity & telecom connection) • Availability of Hardware & software skills for operation & maintenance • User friendliness (language, authenticity & availability of the hardcopy, operators’ credibility) I am sure such beginnings would lead to experiences similar to a VSNL / BSNL, actively perusing retail sales (both once monolith “you are in queue” supply provider). Soon perhaps a franchisee of “NPP powered by NIC (a powerhouse already)” – would be a rural household name (like ITC e-chaupal) providing authentic e-governance support with a “how may I help you” smile when a villager visits after his days work, avoiding to walk couple of hours to the block office next day for information on employment under NREGA – as an alternative to the local labour contractor.
Happy Pant, UNDP, New Delhi Members may be aware about the E-panchayat project of the Department of Panchayati Raj & Rural Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh. The project conceptualized with a view to introducing IT in village panchayats is implemented in several panchayats in various districts of the state for better delivery of citizens’ services in villages through computerization of all the functions of panchayats. The project software provides web-based interface to the citizen to transact with gram panchayats through kiosks. E-Panchayat comprises nearly 30 main modules in line with the sectoral functions of the gram panchayats to facilitate provision of several information services. Internet based services for Birth and Death Registrations, House Tax Assessment Collections, Trade Licenses, Old Age Pensions, Works Monitoring, Financial Accounting; MIS for Panchayat Administration are being executed in the computerized e-Panchayat system. As part of the nationwide rollout plan, pilots are planned in other states as well.
Surendra N Tripathi, Departments of Panchayati Raj & Information Technology, Govt. of Orissa, Bhubaneswar
The e-panchayat module developed by NIC Hyderabad (Dr. Prabhu) is a unique project and needs immediate replication. In fact in Orissa we are trying to implement it in all the panchayats of two blocks (Phiringia and Bangriposi). UNDP is prepared to help gram panchayats with a computer knowing animator for about 6 months. The only problem with this web-enabled Linux-Oracle based application is conversion in local language. In fact the Ministry of Panchayati Raj can come to the rescue of Gram Panchayats on the model of NPP. Charru, IIPA, New Delhi It’s good to see so many members keen on rural e-Gov. Some points on the subject: 1. In fact, apart from UN bodies, introduction of e-governance in Panchayats is proposed to be introduced in Mission Mode Projects, by Govt. of India, wherein focus would be on building up the capacity and capability of the PRIs. 2. Yes, Mr. SN Tripathi is correct about the need of support in local language support as in National Panchayat Portal. Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) has a separate group dedicated to this, may be called NLP (Natural Language Processing). 3. Going by their recent media claims, the details of this NPP model is that NIC has already designed and is about to launch a consolidated single National Panchayat Portal(NPP) to house details/information for all(which are a part of NPP) the two and half lakh Panchayats of India and other related institutions/government departments. NPP is supposed to have UNICODE based multi-lingual support, content management support and would enable citizen-2citizen (C2C) and govt. to govt. (G2G) interactions, apart from conventional G2C interactions. 4. As already pointed out, apart from Orissa, Kerala and AP have already started uploading (putting up) their details on NPP. 5. Apart from this interesting intiative of NPP, under a Rs. 1000 crore budget, Panchayati Raj Ministry has also decided to provide 2.4 lakh panchayats with computers to interlink them with each other as well as with NPP. Interesting ...and hopefully a precursor to more such successful stories. Kris Dev, Life Line to Business Ltd., Chennai The 'e-Administration', web enabled, platform neutral, Less Paper Office Tool, developed using Java, Jboss, PG SQL as backend, all running on Linux, has a FCK Editor and any language can be integrated in the tool easily. Tamil Font has been installed in the server and can be accessed from any client. Presently they are using Tamil in a local Govt. organization. Similarly, other languages too can be integrated. This could be of interest to some members. Ashok kumar Paikaray, Mahavir Yubak Sangh, Bhubaneswar
The implementation of e-Panchayat module in two blocks with support from UNDP is encouraging. We may take care about the use of local vernacular in the above programme. Many thanks to all who contributed to this query! If you have further information to share on this topic, please send it to Solution Exchange for the Decentralization Community in India at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject reading ‘Re: [se-decn] Query: Use of Panchayat Networks, from NIC,New Delhi (Experiences). Additional Reply’ Disclaimer: In posting messages or incorporating these messages into synthesized responses, the UN accepts no responsibility for their veracity or authenticity. Members intending to use or transmit the information contained in these messages should be aware that they are relying on their own judgment.
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