SHILLONG: Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region Dr Jitendra Singh inaugurated the 22nd National Conference on e-Governance 2019 (NCeG), the first ever in the Northeast, in Shillong on Thursday. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma presided over the event as chief guest. The conference is being attended by senior government officers from across India, researchers and eminent personalities from IT industry.
Addressing the inaugural session of the conference, Dr Jitendra Singh congratulated the State Government of Meghalaya for organizing such a elaborate and successful national conference on e-Governance. Twenty eight States and all Union Territories are participating, which itself is a testimony of the commitment shown by State Governments across the country towards e-Governance, he said. He proposed that the conference adopts a ‘Shillong Declaration on e-Governance’ so that the important takeaways from the sessions may be referred to and developed upon, in the future.
Highlighting the importance of the citizen-centric approach in service delivery, Dr Singh said that after the current government first came into power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his early speeches, had urged to move beyond Vigyan Bhawan. “We at DARPG have been religiously following the Prime Minister’s vision and holding this conference across the country. The Prime Minister had earlier defined e-governance as an easy, effective, economical and environmental-friendly governance. The ease of governance would only be possible by ‘Minimum Government and Maximum Governance’,” he said.
Talking about important reforms taken by ministries/departments under his charge, Dr Singh detailed different initiatives. He said that this government did away with the need to certify documents by government officials, a legacy of the British empire. By doing this, the government demonstrated the resolve that it trusted the youth of India, Dr Singh said.
Singh said that over 1,500 obsolete rules and regulations have been done away with, which makes government functioning efficient and citizen friendly.
Addressing the conference Conrad described how application of technology is close to his heart and how important it is for achieving effective citizen centric governance. “It is not the best technology that matters, but it is how best the available technology is applied for the larger good of the masses,” Conrad said.
Sangma talked about the challenges of digital connectivity in the North east, especially Meghalaya. He thanked the Union Government for sanctioning new mobile towers for the State, which would help reducing the challenges of connectivity. Sangma said that conferences like this facilitate pooling of great experience and best practices, that go a long way in addressing traditional challenges using new age technologies.
Sangma also focussed on another aspect which is the data that the government collects for public service delivery. He noted that effective decision making depends upon the quality of data collected. It is a very important aspect of good governance. The kind of impact it can have at the grassroots is immense. He gave the example of the successful model of how technology is being used in Meghalaya in creating a database of expectant mothers, details of health infrastructure available and using that effectively to increase institutional deliveries in the State, without incurring a huge cost. This has gone a long way in improving the figures of maternal mortality rates in the State, he said. Sangma also talked about the e-initiatives being initiated by the Meghalaya government for revolutionising the farming and entrepreneurship sectors in the state. Shri Sangma stressed on the need for focussing on villages and leveraging technology to make them smart, in addition to creating smart cities.
During his address, Hamletson Dohling, Meghalaya Minister for IT and Communications, noted that information and communication technology is a powerful tool to bring the government and public together and ensure efficient public service delivery. He said that NCeG is an important platform to realise the huge potential of ‘Digital Dividend’ across the country. He enlisted the citizen centric initiatives taken by the Government of Meghalaya, like e-Districts; sponsoring students and local companies to increase digital literacy in the state, among others. He requested the Union Minister to continue providing Central Government’s support to realise the dream of Meghalaya establishing an IT hub in the North East.
Meghalaya Chief Secretary PS Thangkhiew during his address, focussed on binding government programmes together by breaking the silos based working and using enterprise architecture approach. He stressed on the need of strengthening the digital backbone for achieving the vision of a digitally integrated service delivery architecture in the country.