We live in a world of constantly evolving Information Communications Technology and its enabling power. Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) can be one of the key enablers of citizen centric services delivery mechanism to create easily accessible interfaces such as one-stop, single-window, automated service delivery outlets or common public service centers, devoid of harassment or corruption, minimizing waiting time and inconvenience to the public. ICTs can be used to reduce paper work, improve efficiency, transparency, accountability and expedite the decision making process. ICTs can also be used to break down barriers between departments and bring about ‘anytime, anywhere’ government services to the citizen.
However, using ICTs is not just a matter of installing hardware and buying relevant software. In order to reap its benefits, its users – government, businesses & citizens - must be e-ready i.e. be able to skillfully exploit the opportunities provided by ICTs. Over the past decade or so, we have seen islands of e-governance initiatives in the country at the National, State, district and even block level. These initiatives have helped these states gain a head start in e-Readiness. Objective assessment of e-Readiness helps states evolve proactive policy and robust ICT infrastructure, to make giant strides towards creating information societies and participate in knowledge economy. The Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of India through National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) conducts e-Readiness Assessment and publishes the findings as e-Readiness Assessment report since last three years. The value of the e-Readiness Index at the State level reflects the capacity of a State to participate in the networked economy in relation to the country at large.
Framework of Analysis for E-Readiness Index of the States in India-2005 is based upon the premises that there are three important stakeholders to consider in the development and use of ICT, viz., individuals, business and governments. The degree of usage of ICT by (and hence the impact of ICT on) the three stakeholders is linked to their degrees of readiness (or capability) to use and benefit from ICT. There is a general macroeconomic and regulatory environment for ICT in which the stakeholders play out their respective roles.
The e-Readiness Index developed by DIT/NCAER is composed of variables that fall into three broad categories: ‘Environment’, ‘Readiness’ and ‘Usage’ as shown in above figure.
Gujarat As a Aspiring Leader (e-Readiness Assessment 2005):
As per the e-Readiness Assessment 2005, Gujarat has been positioned in the category of Aspiring Leader. In the individual categories of Environment, Readiness and Usage, the status of Gujarat is as mentioned below:
In the category of Environment, sub-index has been computed on the basis of three indicators: Market Environment, Political & Regulatory Environment and Infrastructure Environment. Competitive market environment, education and access to communication facilities significantly affect the environmental readiness of the States. Competition among players in the ICT sector gives the consumers better quality products at affordable prices. Education makes people capable of harnessing the advances in technology and access to communication facilities aid in enhancing the e-Readiness of the States.
As per the e-Readiness Assessment 2005, Gujarat has been positioned as Level 2 (L2) state for the Environment category. (There are six levels. Levels L1 through L6 show the States that fall in the category of 'Leaders' to 'Least Achievers').
The readiness of a State in this context measures the capability of the principal agents of an economy (Individual, Business and Government) to leverage the potential of ICT. The Readiness Sub-Index is composed of sub-indicators representing Individual Readiness, Business Readiness and Government Readiness. As per e-Readiness Assessment 2005, Gujarat has been positioned as Level 4 state in the category of Readiness.
Usage aims at measuring the degree of utilization of ICT by Individuals, Business and the Government. Individual usage is measured by the average monthly expenditure by an Individual on internet access, mobile phones, telephone etc. The Business usage is measured by the companies using the VSAT, ISDN lines while the usage by Government is measured by the status of accessibility of information and services by the citizen, no. of eGovernance projects undertaken and the proportion of the policies taken for ICT usage.
As per the e-Readiness Assessment 2005, Gujarat has been positioned as Level 2 (L2) state for the ICT Usage category.
Based on the above three categories, Gujarat has been assessed as Aspiring Leaders as per the e-Readiness Assessment 2005 as mentioned in above figure.
Major initiatives taken by Govt. of Gujarat towards more e-Ready state are as mentioned below:
- New IT Policy 2006-2011 announced on 1st November 2006.
- All departments have prepared their IT Action Plan, which has a one-year focus and a five-year perspective.
- Two to three percent of the State Government budget is committed to IT related activities.
- To oversee implementation of IT strategies in the departments, each department has Chief Information Officer (CIO) who reports directly to Secretary of the department. Information Officer (CIO) who reports directly to Secretary of the department.
- To ensure smooth implementation of e-Governance projects, technical persons have been deputed as System Managers in key Government departments.
- All departments are in process of creating shareable databases of rules and other related information. This includes information such as budget, recruitment/service rules, plan achievements for various schemes etc.
- Integrated Workflow and Document Management System (IWDMS) is implemented across the Government Secretariat, which ensures standardization of application and database.
- Government has implemented CCC (Competency in Computer Concepts) and CCC Plus courses for Government employees and compulsory DOEACC “CCC” level certification for the new entrants in the government. The content of these courses addresses the change in the requirements for training government employees in today’s context.
- Largest WAN (Wide Area Network) created. As on today, more than 4000 users of 127 Govt. offices at State capital Gandhinagar and more than 10000 users of 2800 District and Taluka level offices of different departments have been directly connected to GSWAN (Gujarat State Wide Area Network). More than 5500 Offices have been provided GSWAN voice facility.
- College to Career program, an Industry - Institute linkage program has been conducted to sensitize and train students in the area of current industrial practices by Industry experts. An overwhelming number of students – over 2500 students across 35 institutions in Batch-1 and over 3700 students across 44 institutions in Batch-2 – have participated. Over 4500 students are already registered in Batch-3. A Job Fair was also conducted for the students of Batch-1 and Batch-2.
- Project INVITE 2005 & 2006, an innovative academic initiative was conducted as part of which over 33 eGovernance projects were developed by students on Open Source software. An overwhelming number of students - over 2500 students across 65 institutions in the State – have participated in these projects.