Thursday, May 28, 2009

RTI In India Got ICT Boost

Right to Information (RTI) is a valuable tool in the hands of public spirited people and common man. It has tremendous potential to bring transparency and reduce corruption. The impact of RTI is further amplified if we use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for giving effect to the procedures used for getting relevant information under the RTI Act 2005-RTI HELPDESK

Last week, CIC Wajahat Habibullah disposed a case at his Delhi headquarters on an appeal from Begusarai in Bihar. What was special about this one is that he did it entirely through video-conferencing, using the network installed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), which now connects Delhi and state capitals with the headquarters of 450 of the country’s 600 districts. The petitioner went to the district collector’s office; all documents required by the CIC or the respondent, the prime minister’s office, were immediately computer-scanned and e-mailed; they were perused at the other end, and the order issued orally, on video. No one moved out of their offices.


Orissa Is Heading Towards The Best ICT Enabled State In India

It seems the State of Orissa is all set to encash the benefits of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for its development, especially for e-governance in India.

Firstly, the IT department of the Orissa government is expected to come out with a new ICT policy, incorporating the best practices of IT-friendly states in the country by November this year. The new state focused ICT policy is being formulated after a gap of five years.

Secondly, as part of its initiative to make banking services available to the poor, the Orissa government has decided to launch an ICT pilot project. The six-month project seeks to extend banking services to the rural areas and strengthen the financial inclusion process in the state. The preparatory process is almost over and the scheme is likely to be launched by the month-end. It will be implemented in 29 villages across four gram panchayats.

The commitment of Orissa State is praiseworthy especially when e-governance in other States have miserably failed. The reason why e-governance is a big failure is because neither our political parties nor our elected governments take e-governance seriously.

While ICT was not on the “Priority List” of Congress led Government, yet it is very important for the socio-economic development of India. If the Congress Government strictly sticks to its manifesto, then only non-congress led Governments would flourish in this much needed arena.

Finally, it is not mere declarations but “actual implementation” that decides the fate of any venture. In the absence of dedicated efforts all declarations are at best a foolish attempt to cover the “corruption” that misappropriates the fund allocated for e-governance in India.


Corporate Reforms In India In Pipeline

Corporate Reforms in India are in pipeline. The same may improve the corporate scenario in India significantly. However, only “dedicated efforts” can make this dream a reality. The challenges are tremendous and so are the efforts required to streamline corporate affairs. Issues like corporate social responsibility, corporate governance, good competition regime, etc cannot be ignored.

The long-pending Companies Bill, 2008, proposing reforms in the corporate sector, may soon see the light of the day, if the corporate affairs ministry has its way. In a note prepared for its new minister Salman Khursheed, the ministry has suggested clearance to the Bill, albeit with some amendments, as its top priority.The new Companies Bill, which seeks to minimise government’s regulation in all company processes by replacing the existing Companies Act, 1956, was introduced in Parliament in October last year after the parliamentary standing committee cleared it. It, however, lapsed as the 14th Lok Sabha was dissolved for the general elections.“The Companies Bill will have to be presented again. There might be some changes in it when the parliamentary standing committee invites suggestions from various stakeholders,” said a senior official in the corporate affairs ministry.


Nigerians Held For Internet Fraud

Two Nigerians were nabbed by a Kolkata Police team from Delhi on Monday for duping a city housewife of Rs 1.22 lakh after luring her with a 200,000 dollar lucky draw. Police suspect that the two fraudsters are members of a notorious Nigerian lottery racket which has swindled several people of more than Rs 1 crore in the past three months.

Sunanda Banerjee of Kolkata is just one of those from the city to have been duped by this racket. But this is the first time city police could reach the Nigerian racketeers. Police said Banerjee a resident of Narkeldanga Main Road in east Kolkata received an SMS in the last week of April declaring her the lucky winner of a draw held by an UK-based multinational petroleum company. Banerjee was also provided a mail address and asked to contact the sender. Without any suspicion, she replied and received a certificate in the name of the petroleum company confirming her prize. The "company" had also mailed her that a British diplomat Ben John Kenedy would arrive in Delhi to deliver her prize money. To authenticate the claim, the fraudsters had also sent the photograph of Kenedy's passport and identity proof through the mail.

Meanwhile, Banerjee had received a few calls. The caller introduced himself as the local agent of the company who would arrange delivery of the shipment and asked her to pay Rs 1.22 lakh as shipment charges and processing fees. Banerjee deposited the amount in a private bank account in three installments, but her prize money never reached her.


50 Government Websites Urged To Be Made Disabled Friendly

Disabled rights groups have approached the IT ministry with a list of 50 government websites like that of the Indian Railways, Central Information Commission and Income Tax Department which they want to be made disabled friendly.

'We have identified 50 organisations and departments in the government. We have sent a proposal to the IT ministry to make sites of these WCAG (web content accessibility guidelines) 2.0 compliant, thereby making them disabled friendly. The ministry has shown a very positive outlook on this,' Javed Abidi, convener of the Disabled Rights Group, told IANS.

According to Abidi, such a move would simplify the Internet interface for people with disability by making the websites compatible with the special software they use to access websites.