Digital Meghalaya: A positive technological change or merely a joke?


SHILLONG, May 15: Paper a commodity, that like most things, we take for granted. As we in India surge ahead with programmes such as Digital India and e-Governance, there is a need to move towards more modern methods of documentation. If one were to visit any government office, one would find a huge amount of their work is still in hard-copy papers and files.

In a reply to a query, Dr M Ampareen Lyngdoh, Minster for Information and Technology stated that 'Awareness is the need of the hour among citizens and certain extent among government officials regarding acceptance of IT enabled solutions'. The reason behind could be that more than half of the employed staff in government offices are not trained or have a prerequisite knowledge in so-called 'IT enabled solutions'.

There have been efforts such as the Digi Dhan Mela and the Digital India outreach programme, but where are the results? Well one may say that such programmes are often organised on days of religious importance and hence were 'postponed' on account that it would hurt the sentiments of people of some religion. Or 'tampered with', because of the suggestions of other powerful bureaucrats and minsters.

Dr Ampareen also highlighted that a dearth in 'IT educated/tech savvy' students in the state is also one of the reason.  In a way it is surprising that the IT minister who also happens to hold the Labour portfolio is not aware of the labour profile. There are a large number of young people who have access to the IT enabled solutions and are unemployed. Again there are 'steps' which have been implemented to promote the usage of Digital avenues such as the enabling Digital Classroom in various schools in a 'phased manner'.

It is always the same excuse that is used many of the times that steps are being implemented. Again I raise a very pertinent question where are the results? Another excuse is the lack of funding; excuse me madam, but when half the funds goes to the pockets of officials how on earth will there be any left for the ever present and ever pervading 'steps'!

So, these reasons are enlisted as to why there is no change in the way government documentation and work is done.

One commendable part in all this is that while we are yet to get to a digitalised form of working Mr D P Wahlang a senior officer has pushed for the implementation of projects like e-District where citizens can apply on-line for services like ST/SC, PRC etc. and also receive their digitally signed certificates on-line. These initiatives have impressed the jury of the SKOCH-NeGD Digital India who recognized Mr. Wahlang as the Digital India Leader.

Another state official Mr. D Jyrwa, Superintendent of Police, State Crime Records Bureau, is one amongst five recipients of the Digital India "Champion Award". Mr. Jyrwa was awarded for his initiative in building a website for citizens to lodge complaints to the Police under the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network Systems (CCTNS).

In a recent development, the Meghalaya Board of School Education, was awarded for it efforts in online registrations and online payment of fees for the Classes 9 and 11. This is a step in the right direction at least from an ecological point of view where the usage of paper has been reduced. This also makes it easier for the students to access and track the status of their application.

There are efforts made in regard to the way in which the government has made to move towards a Digital Meghalaya. It is however, not enough that efforts such be made but results must also been seen. The dependency on paper must be reduced and a move to a digital solutions. But, this is not without its own issues and setback. A heightened security with regard to the online space so as to prevent unwanted attacks and leaks is also required to protect the departments and the agencies using these newer technologies.

Within the past few years we have seen a lot of changes and more changes need to come. Paper usage is something that we as members of the public and citizens of the world must be aware and conscious of at all times. We must raise our consciousness of these environmental issues and act on them as well.

 By Julian Jyrwa for TNT- The Northeast Today News

The present article is part of an internship programme by Julian Jyrwa of Christ University, Bengaluru