Convergence and E-Governance : National Informatics Centre – An Active Catalyst and Facilitator in India*

 

M.Moni[1] & N.Vijayaditya[2]

 

Introduction

 

1.0       Technological changes, convergence, and deregulation taking place throughout the World,  have brought about rapid growth in Computer, Communication, Information Technology / Content Industry Sectors, together with many challenging issues to address. Changes in markets have led to convergence of ownership and services, across national boundaries and have created gaps and contradictions in national policy. Convergence describes a process change in these industry structures  that combines markets through technological and economic dimensions, to meet merging consumer needs. It is also important to examine individual cases of convergence of emerging services and technologies,  to understand the possible future structures of these converging  sectors.

 

1.1       E-governance (Electronic Governance or Digital Governance) is the effective use of Information Technology (IT) to improve the system of governance that is in place, and thus provide better services to the Citizens. Introduction of  E-governance is considered as a high priority agenda in India, as it is considered to be the only means of taking IT to the “Common Public”. Developments in e-governance provide opportunities to harness the power of Information Technology (IT) to make the business of governance inexpensive, qualitatively responsive, and truly encompassing.

 

1.2       National Informatics Centre (NIC) has been instrumental in steering Information and Communication Technology (ICT) applications in government departments at Central, State and Districts, facilitating  improvement in government services, wider transparency in government functions, and improvement in decentralised planning and management. NIC has played an important role of an “active” catalyst and “facilitator

in informatics development programme in Governments at the national, state and district levels, during the last 25 years, and has "reached out into India" during 1985-90 through its NICNET,  even before the arrival of “Internet” Technology, to 550 districts of the Country, which is a land of diversity with  different types of terrain, various Agro-climatic conditions, different levels of socio-economic conditions, and varied levels of regional development, etc.

 

1.3       The Internet (i.e. network of networks based on TCP/IP communication protocol) is the driving force of convergence of technologies and services industries. Emergence of Information Technology on the national agenda and the announcement of IT policies by various State Governments have recognised the “Convergence of core technologies  and E-Governance” as the tool for sustainable development and globalisation of economy. The hypothesis: “diversity of applications and services increases, whenever core technologies converge” holds good. In view of its impact on socio and economic development of the Country, the Planning Commission has constituted a Working Group on “Convergence and E-governance  to  formulate proposals for the  Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-07), with the following terms of reference :

 

¨      Measures for promotion of e-governance at various levels of Government

¨      Measures for ensuring seamless transition to convergence of IT, Telecommunication and Broadcasting Sector

¨      Measures to address the issue of digital divide and taking the benefits of IT to the Masses

¨      Infrastructure requirements for faster growth and penetration of internet and convergence of services

¨      Integrated view of the development of Telecommunications, IT and Information & Broadcasting Sectors

 

The Tenth Plan Approach Paper of the Planning Commission calls for an economic growth target of  8% during the Plan Period, with emphasis on second generation reforms, reduction in subsidies and hard economic decisions to raise resources for increased investment and prune non-plan expenditure. The Approach Paper reiterates  faster growth is necessary in order to maintain India’s position in the World Economy and build upon, in the context of the changing global circumstances and growing aspirations of the People.

 

1.5       This report examines the scenario of development of technologies and services, and their convergence in Telecommunications Sector, Information Technology Sector and Information & Broadcasting Sector, the on-going efforts on promoting e-governance at various levels of Government for delivery of services to the citizens,  proposed regulatory measures  on convergence technologies and services,  the Central Government’s “Informatics-led development programme  and “development with-in” policy to overcome “digital divide   and  establish e-government (strategic decision taken in the year 1975), the role of National Informatics Centre (NIC) as an “active catalyst and facilitator” and various state governments in the  on-going process of  e-government and e-governance (i.e. digital governance or IT-governance) at national, state, and district levels of government, and finally the infrastructure requirements for faster growth and penetration of Internet and convergence of services to strengthen the ongoing efforts as well as new services for establishing e-governance in the country, to usher in sustainable development and growth.

 

Technology Trend  - High Speed, Broadcast, Digital Electronic Highways and OpenGIS

 

2.0       Information Technology (IT) is a multidisciplinary field emerging from computer technology, software technology, database technology, and Internet Technology. Information Technology and Communication Technology, now popularly referred to  as Information and Communication Technology (ICT),  embody  Satellite broadcasting networks, Television, Video, Digital radio, Internet (e-mail, e-commerce, e-conferencing, etc.), Extranets, Wireless Communication Devices (mobile phone), Digital video disks (DVDs), CD-ROMS, and Video/Voice mail. Fax revolution  was produced by a convergence of telecommunication technology, optical scanning, and printing technology.

 

2.1       People, Procedures, and Technology   have become a multi-threaded operating system to take advantage of  desktop revolution, open systems, network systems, database technology, parallel computing, and web technology based services (i.e. business-to-business (B2B), business-to-customer (B2C), customer-to-customer (C2C), government-to-government (G2G), government-to-citizen (G2C), government-to-business (G2B), citizen-to-government (C2G)), Customer Relation Management  (CRM), Supply-Chain Management (SCM) and Corporate Knowledge Engineering. Information Technology,  in its convergent form, is recognised as  the vehicle for social, economic, and cultural transformation of society. It is a fact that optimal utilisation of resources becomes difficult, unless all resources are converged. Convergence of  technologies and services normally results in new capability products and services,  at affordable costs to the common public.   This will result in rapid establishment of virtual corporate and industrial structures (electronic markets, virtual value chain, and virtual communities).

 

2.2       The OpenGISÒ Model[3] of the Open GIS Consortium Technical Committee [OpenGIS]  envisages to synchronize geo-processing technology with the emerging Information Technology standards, based on open systems, distributed processing, and componentware frameworks, and to facilitate interoperability through "common specification" over Internet/Intranet. The "Pluggable Computing Model" provides a conceptual framework ("reference model") that positions the OpenGIS Specification in the broad context of Information Technology. The Pluggable Tool Services include GIS Tools, Imaging Tools, Expert Tools,  and RDBMS Tools. Each Tool has algorithms, data, and interfaces to services in the distributed computing environment. Information Technology (IT) is not just an efficiency tool, but is a catalyst bringing about fundamental changes in the way business is done and hence calls for the identification and selection of appropriate strategies for making the best use of opportunities triggered off by IT implementation[4].

 

2.3       As we entered into the 21st century, the realm of electronic communication, which encompasses telecommunication, broadcasting, information technology, and  services and industries, is undergoing profound changes, leading to a Global Information Infrastructure (GII), which will be  capable of carrying any type of information, be it text, data, voice or video.. Information is now broadly defined to embrace voice in telephony, text in fax and newspapers, images in video and TV broadcasting, and data in computers. All information can be digitised, transported, stored, retrieved, modified, and then distributed. All of these are getting transportable over a common infrastructure – high-speed, broadcast, digital electronic highways.  Emerging digital techniques, new network alternatives (Intelligent Networks), high bandwidth communication technology, and state-of-the-art software for network functions and services, are the new technology trends evident in the development of electronic communication systems. The enormous impact of the technological realities (as given by the Moore’s Law, Metcalfe’s Law & Guilder’s Law) on convergence and its resultant’s impact on the economy,  are observable.

 

2.4       Technological changes, convergence, and deregulation taking place throughout the World,  have brought about rapid growth in each of these industry sectors, together with many challenging issues to address. Changes in markets have led to the convergence of ownership and services across national boundaries and have created gaps and contradictions in national policy. Driven largely by technological developments, which can be a boon or bane, for developing countries, the converging communication environment has profound policy implications. IT-Vision-2020 foresees the eventual emergence of an Information Society in India based on the Convergence of Telecommunication, Broadcasting,  and Computers. Convergence is not an issue in the backbone, but in the edge (last-mile problem).

 

Emerging Digital Economy - Global Free Trade Zone on Internet

 

3.0       Development economy has witnessed industrial revolution, agricultural revolutions (green–foodgrain, white-milk, yellow-edible oil, blue-fish, and now rainbow), information technology revolution, and bio-technology revolution. Information Technology and Bio-Technology have now become the “drivers” of globalisation of the economy, with their complementarities of liberalisation, privatisation and tighter intellectual property rights[5]. Developments in Information Technology (IT) are bringing about a second industrial revolution, but the drivers are information, data, computers, and connectivity, and not iron & coal, as it used to be earlier. A global economic transformation is now intensifying and leading to a rapid economic growth. Unlike most developing countries, India is expected to  gain from the “emerging digital economy”, as it has :

 

·        affordable access to core information resources, cutting edge technology and to sophisticated telecommunication systems and infrastructure;

·        the capacity to build, operate, manage, and service the technologies involved;

·        policies that promote equitable public participation in the information society as both producers and consumers of information and knowledge; and

·        a work force trained to develop, maintain and provide the value-added products and services required by the information economy.

 

3.1       Countries with higher per-capita  GDPs (i.e. higher level of infrastructure development) have different priorities than those countries struggling to provide basic services with limited resources.  Singapore and Hong Kong are well positioned to implement the state-of-the-art technologies.  South Korea and  Taiwan  attempt to build their industrial strength to become manufacturing bases for new technologies.  Countries like Indonesia, China and India are trying to increase the provision of basic services, while at the same time providing their citizens with more advanced tools for economic progress[6]. Hong Kong  has also launched various initiatives to encourage the growth of high technology business, including the Cyberport project and the Digital-21 strategic plan. Hong Kong’s GEM (Growth Enterprise Market) Policy  provides a source of funding for early stage technology businesses and makes it easier for them to attract venture capital.

 

3.2       The Unites States has been the main location for dynamic improvement in the computer and communications industries. Reports confirm that in the western economies, especially in U.S.A., convergence technology had moved fast, but they have failed in the service delivery area. E-commerce is changing the business world.  The US  hands-off  policy on electronic commerce (1997) recommends that the nations of the World refrain from all types of regulation of commerce conducted over the Internet (a global free trade zone on the Internet), which is likely to facilitate an immediate and enduring advantage for the United States[7]. Various international and regional organisations such as  APEC, WTO, OECD,  G-8 Nations,  ITU,  EU, UN,  World Bank,  WIPO, ISO etc.,  have attached much importance on the emergence of the potential for international electronic commerce over the Internet.

 

Impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) diffusion on Economic Growth

 

4.0       The diffusion of ICT throughout all industries is far more important than the production of ICT industries per se. Convergence of Computing and Telecommunications was perceived as one of the most important trends in ICT. At the beginning of the 1990s, Computer Networks were widely used, and increasingly contributed to the globalisation of economic activities. Computer Networks in convergence with Telecommunications, commonly referred to as Information Infrastructures, are now viewed as fundamental and critical bases for future economic and social development. Various study results strongly support that the “payoff” effect of ICT on economic growth can be achieved only through a robust National Information Infrastructure (NII) that supports ICT adoption and application. ICT diffusion derives economic force from the complementary development of a knowledge-intensive society[8].

 

4.1       Regional initiatives of the Governments and the private sector to adopt standards, develop interconnection and accounting systems and to deploy infrastructures, due to liberalisation policies,  have seen the growth of satellite systems and regional WANs (Wide Area Networks) in India. National Task Force on Information Technology and Software Development (1998) of the Central Government has suggested a plan of action to make India an IT super power in the World.  Emergence of IT on the National Agenda[9] and announcement  of IT Policies by about 19 State Governments (e.g. Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamilnadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, etc.) have strengthened India’s position in the software-driven IT sector in the World. These IT Policies, more or less, envision : Re-engineering administrative processes, IT Budget, IT-initiative Fund, Statewide Area Network, Smart Cards, Departmentwise specific MIS,   IT Literacy, and  Promotion of IT Industry. Many State Governments have introduced “computer education” as a compulsory subject in schools and established Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs),  IT Parks, Hardware Parks, and Software Technology Parks to promote the growth of IT education, services, & industry in India. Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), and various Regional Engineering Colleges (RECs) also impart computer science & engineering education, matching international standards. The efforts of the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE)  in focussing quality IT education through various self-finance colleges  are noteworthy.

 

4.2       Information Technology investment in developing countries, like India, was negligible up to 1990s. The productivity gains lag (not kept pace with) vis-à-vis IT investments and  the primary reason for this lag is that the learning needed to use the new technology did not develop with the same tempo. However, the scenario is now fast changing, broadly due to :

 

·        Introduction of computer education in schools,

·        Growth of computer educational institutions in higher centres of learning,

·        Use of computers and networks in governments, public sector, private sector, & cooperative sector, and

·        Favourable government policies.

 

 

4.3       Similarly, Information Technology investment in Government Sector has been negligible up to 1990s. The Vittal Committee (1997) constituted by the Department of Administrative  Reforms recommended 2-3% of the budget outlay for Information Technology applications in Government Departments. The National Conference on Informatics for Sustainable Agricultural Development (ISDA) (1995) recommended 3-6% for IT Applications in the Agricultural sector. In the present “crucial decade” of this millenium, a high rate of investment in Information Technology capital and a supportive environment are expected to achieve “digital economy”.  Its rapid growth, however, depends on[10] :-

 

·        A higher rate of productivity growth related to investment in Information Technology;

·        A rise in Total Factor Productivity (TFP) growth due to Information Utilisation across the economy and resulting “spill-over” effects;

·        An increase in factor utilisation; and

·         A decline in the non-accelerating inflation rate and rate of unemployment.

 

 

4.4       Public Investment  for creation of basic informatics infrastructure with universal access and consequent creation of employment, has been recommended to be realised by allowing every Central Sector Scheme projects and Centrally Sponsored Scheme projects,   to utilise up to 2-3% of their annual budget outlay[11] for Information Technology applications for ushering in e-governance as well as increasing productivity. As compared with the costs faced in building a variety of other infrastructures, the information infrastructure is a remarkably inexpensive way to enhance the productivity of India's economy[12]. A National Information Infrastructure (NII) is evolving as a “network of networks” including such nationwide networks as NICNET, ERNET, HVNet & I-Net, in addition to an extensive Fibre Optic Telecommunication Backbone  being set up by Department of Telecommunication (DOT),  Railways, and the Private Sector[13]. From an economic perspective, the "National Information Infrastructure" has the characteristics of a “public good”. The technological convergence of Information Technology, Telecommunication and Entertainment Electronics have opened up new vistas in the life of the Common Public. In order to empower the Common Public, the Government of India (MIT, 2000)[14] envisioned: -

 

*        Internet based Information facilitation for “the Common Public” by various Government Agencies at all levels to be made available by 2005 (IT enabled services);

*        Establishment of about 100 Million Internet Connections and one Million Information Kiosks ( i.e. 1-2 connection per village) by 2008 with the participation of private sector and Un-organised Sector (self-employed);

*        Promotion of development of Indian Languages Content over Internet;

*        Re-engineering of  the Government processes leading to “electronic governance”; and

*        Launching of  “Mass Compaign on IT Awareness (IT-Yatras)”

 

Impact of IT would be predominant in the social sectors like health, education, judiciary and rural development. Investment in Knowledge based industries is expected to determine India’s dominance in this millenium[15]. Economic Analysts suggest that India should attract investments and convergence can come later, and point out that  China is not talking about convergence but paying stress on infrastructure by moving in a planned manner. There has been a considered view that the forecast of 2005, in terms of infrastructure development, will be difficult, as there is no planning and no money.

 

 

Converging and Embedding  – Information Technology, Telecommunication, Broadcasting and Entertainment

 

5.0       Convergence  takes place  through wired and wireless media, and “topple down” old business models and value chains. It occurs either through competitive substitution or through the complementary merging of products or services or both at once"[16]. Information, Communications and Entertainment ("ICE") represents the converging industries of communications, media, software and the Internet, electronics and travel, leisure and tourism. (KPMG,1996) defines that convergence entails the coming together of content, infrastructures, the storage and processing capabilities of computers, and consumer electronics[17]. Convergent technologies, which blend multiple streams of information into a single presentation on a single device, are central to the future growth of IT industry.

 

5.1   Digital networks redefine what kinds of infrastructure are possible under the sweeping trend of convergence and highlight the need for privatisation and regulatory changes commensurate with such developments. Convergence of technologies takes place  at the transmission level, the terminal level and the service level. IT convergence began with the digitization of switching and transmission and the utilisation of Intelligent Network (IN) platforms. The Hypothesis : diversity of applications and services increases whenever core technologies converge” holds good. This convergence entered homes and business with the extensive use of the Internet. This technology convergence will release customers from the barriers imposed by proprietary solutions, allowing organisations to develop integrated voice and data applications. Falling  costs of equipment led to further integration between telephony and the computers, resulting in call centres. Market analysts expect a dominance of complementary convergence (1+1 = 3) over competitive aspects.

 

5.2       Convergence describes a process change in industry structures (Computer Industry, Information/Content Industry, & Communication Industry)  that combines markets through technological and economic dimensions to meet merging consumer needs. This process change takes place, inter and intra industry,  in the following structure :

 

·        Computer Industry

·        Computers

·        Software

·        Interfaces

·        Information/Content Industry

·        Databases

·        Information Services

·        Audio-Visuals products

·        Films

·        Music

·        Photos

·        Communication Industry

·        PSTN

·        Cable Networks

·        Broadcasting

·        Mobile networks

 

5.3       It is also important to examine individual cases of convergence of emerging services and technologies (i.e. Internet Telephony – Voice over Internet Protocol in 1995 : PC-to-PC,  phone-to-PC or PC-to-phone, phone-to-phone) to understand the possible future structures of the communications industry. Three aspects - which are interdependent  but separate - are usually considered[18] :

 

·        Technological innovations which enable the convergence of different appliances and their functions

·        Cooperation among companies from different sectors or expansion of companies into hitherto unrelated industries

·         Changes in consumer behaviour, specially, the adoption of interactive television usage patterns which are similar to internet-surfing.

 

5.4       VSATs (Very Small Aperture Terminals or Via Satellite Terminals) have emerged as the preferred means of wide area networking for financial institutions, utilities and services sector, as the VSAT has the ability to integrate data, voice, fax and also voice across remote locations.  There are different VSAT technologies namely SCPC, DAMA, TDM/TDMA, and FTDMA. Adding  a new location takes less than a week , and enhancing services is limited to adding or modifying software at Headquarters (Hub Control Station)  only. VSATs offer high network reliability (99.5 %), remote accessibility at lower costs, transmission costs independent of distances, and centralised network control, independent of a public carrier. VSATs offer more flexibility in network expansion and redesign whereas the terrestrial network requires re-engineering, which is process that can take months and involve scores of vendors.

 

5.5       Studies show that a large populace of TV users who would embrace the Internet, video-on-demand, and greater interaction with content, but who are diffident about buying and using a Personal Computer (PC).  This trend has forced both the Computer and the Television Industries to embark on bringing a digital TV and the Internet to a large market. Maximum convergence is occurring in the area of access network (telecommunication including data communication) or local delivery services (broadcasting). This is because technological developments now permit the network used for carrying broadcasting signals to the customer premises, namely the cable TV network, to be used for purposes of carrying telecommunication and data (including Internet) signals also. Likewise, the telephony access network i.e., the network connecting subscriber to the telephone exchange, can be used for carrying broadcasting signals. In a similar manner, the webcasting function utilised for Internet data transfer though a telecommunication service uses the broadcast mode.

 

Internet - The Driving Force for Convergence

 

6.0       Internet is and will be the most promising medium and the convergence of services and terminals will be centered on the Internet. The Internet does not follow the Amdahl’s Constant[19].  The rapid growth of Internet happened not only because of the sheer brilliance of the core technologies behind it,  but due to the following three core factors:

 

(a)    Core innovation in Information Technology (Moore’s Law effect – chip capacity would double every 18 months while its price fell to half, Gilder’s Law – total bandwidth of telecommunication would triple every 12 months, and Metcalfe’s Law – network effect will be square of the number of computers in the network) – led to dramatic development; of new applications;

(b)   Open standards – led to convergence

(c)    De-regulation of telecommunication markets  – led to falling prices stimulated by de-regulation.

 

6.1       The single biggest area of "convergence and embedding for the Internet"  will be the integration with the broadcast market. Since both the Internet and Broadcasting are digital, broadcasting is the bridging technology that converge broadcasting and the Internet into a single, seamless digital medium. Hanada (1990)[20] discusses the convergence of broadcasting and telecommunications in Japan and presents a conceptual framework to understand the functions of broadcasting, telecommunications and information services (Figure-1). Data Broadcast – trend towards speed and disintermediation – has created several exciting phenomena :

 

*        The Era of IP anywhere (strategic inflection point – 10 X factor)

*        The Economy of speed

*        The Media becoming the Market

*        The New Battle for the Eyeballs (Portal Wars)

 

6.2       IPv6 (128-bit address) will facilitate convergence of technologies i.e., an Era of IP anywhere. Software radio is emerging as the pragmatic solution for future mobile systems,  holding the key to total convergence.  Data broadcast applications (Intranets, Extranets, Focussed Affinity Networks (FANs) – CUGs, and Branded Business Channels) will have impact on productivity and economic growth. Emerging applications (killer applications) will be :

 

·        Unified messaging

·        Collaborative data sharing (e-commerce and datawarehousing)

·        Video streaming and conferencing

·        Unified Internet multimedia service

·        Internet service using satellites

·        Ultra High speed internet service

·        Expertise content service

 

over a single corporate network, often run on Internet Protocol.


 



 

 


"The Last Mile" - Broadband connections covering the last segment of the data pipeline

 

7.0       Bridging "the last mile" involves technology, economics and geography. The Home Network of the Future will ultimately serve a multitude of appliances with a voracious appetite for content, for which the obvious answer is “broadband connections covering the last segment of the data pipeline,  known as “the last mile”. The available technologies for transmission are Wireless Technology and Dial-Up Connection.  One of the major problems with the Wireless Technology is how to deal with the high  rate of packet loss. Millions of dial-up users are tired of sluggish connections and hence the market is there for broadband – in one form or another. The emphasis on full Internet Protocol (IP) interoperability has been important, as the backlash has already begun against the lighter-weight Wireless Applications Protocol (WAP).

 

7.1       The National Task Force on Information Technology & Software Development (1998) recommended the “last mile” linkage either by “fibre optics” or by “radio communication” for IT Applications Services Providers (ASPs), Internet Services Providers (ISPs), and IT Promotional Organisations, with the aim to “boost efficiency and enhance market integration”, through Internet/Intranet,  for sustainable regional development. The logical way to network ever increasing no of housholds is to use the already existing telephone lines, television cables, the electric power lines and the Globally available 2.4 Ghz wireless ISM Band. Using existing telephone wires, Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) offer speeds upto 8MBPS or more, depending upon the protocol and the distance. Symmetric DSL and Asymmetric DSL are the leading contenders. The CableTV line provides asymmetric bandwidth 2MBPS uplink and 50MBPS downlink on a single TV channel of 6MHz. The U.S. based Media Fusion’s Power Line Technology – Advanced Sub Carrier ModulationTM- expects to deliver the signal - at speeds of upto 2.5 gigabits per second (GBPS). With the implementation of IPv6 (IP anywhere), the Bluetooth Technology (2.4GHz ISM Band) may be the mostly used technology of the current decade – to the SOHO ( Small Office Home Office ) segment.

 

 

Regulatory Measures - The Communication Convergence Bill 2000

 

8.0       Innovative services and technologies are challenging the existing demarcation of business markets, services, providers, users and government regulations in the Communication Industry. Content providers will only be willing to make contents available if their IPRs are sufficiently protected. Insufficient protection is already a barrier for off-line electronic content, and this could be projected into the on-line world. The perceived road blocks  are as follows:

 

(a)    Cable networks, Internet providers, Phone and Cellular companies are not allowed to connect each other – essential for convergence to occur.

(b)   Broadband networks, high speed systems for transmitting video, cable, telephone calls, music or any form of communication that can be digitised – do not exist

(c)    If cable companies and ISPs are allowed to start all  new digital services, what happens to the Rs.7000 Crores of  licence fees paid by private telephone companies. ?

(d)   A host of convergence plans, like Direct-To-Home (DTH) television and Internet delivery to remote areas, presently need the so-called KU satellite band which   eliminates the need to lay wires.

 

8.1       The laws governing both telecommunication and broadcasting were, until 1997, the Indian Telegraph ACT (1885) and the Wireless Telegraph Act (1933), which gave exclusive privilege to the State to establish telegraph and broadcasting services. The earlier acts like Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, Telegraph Wire Unlawful Possession Act, 1950, the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997, have become antiquated in its provisions. Telecom Regulation Authority of India (TRAI)  has finally realized the importance of VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal or Via Satellite Terminal) as an infrastructure tool and its major recommendations are :

 

·        Free competition

·        Decrease in license fee

·        Removing the 64 KBPS barrier, and

·        Interconnection (CUG) to share the resources.

 

The National Task Force on Information Technology and Software Development  (1998) recommends telecom networks be allowed to connect to each other, as network interconnectivity is the key to the digital revolution. Although broadcasting’s special role cannot be ignored in a democratic society, government should not create boundaries between industries when digital technology is bringing about convergence. Since it is difficult to predict the effect of digital innovation on broadcasting, policy should let the market be the prime arbiter of the development of digital innovation[21].

 

8.2       The Government of India is all set to bring about revolutionary changes in the regulatory and legislative environment in the Information, Communication and Entertainment (ICE) sectors, in order to facilitate a smooth convergence of these sectors. Recommendations of the Final Draft Report of the Sub-Group on Convergence (Fali S. Nariman, Convenor) are as follows:-

 

·        All antiquated acts including Indian Telegraph Act 1885 must go

·        One regulatory framework for information content and carriage

·        Single, independent, autonomous commission for licensing and regulation ( Communication Commission of India)

·        Facilitate the development of national infrastructure for information-based society; and

·        Calls for a closer cooperation between the regulator and the industry and seeks to remove any restrictions on using any technology for providing quality services to consumer.

 

8.3       The Communication Convergence Bill 2000 (CCB-2000) of the Indian Central Government  envisages to establish a unified regulatory regime to address the growing technological convergence of telecommunications, datacommunications, internet, satellite and terrestrial broadcasting, cable television, audio broadcasting, and software and content creation. The CCB-2000  defines that “convergence” commonly refers to the provision of different kind of services over the existing infrastructure and the enhancement of existing technologies so as to provide a wide variety of new services viz. Web-casting, Internet Telephony, etc.  The CCB-2000 envisages four different service providers namely :

 

·        Network Infrastructure Facility Provider (NIFP)

·        Network Service Provider (NSP)

·        Application Service Provider

·        Content ASP

 

The CCB-2000 facilitates that in the era of convergence, an ASP/Content ASP can utilize the services of any NSP for carrying their application/content.

 

8.4       The CCB-2000 proposes the setting up of a single unified regulator, Communications Commission of India (CCI), a super regulator governing the Information, Communication and Entertainment sector. The CCI will subsume the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal and the earlier proposed Broadcasting Authority of India. The super regulator will carry out the functions of granting licenses, assigning and managing spectrum, regulating content and right of way, resolve disputes, as well as determine the conditions for fair, equitable, and non-discriminatory access to network facilities. Overall, it will be vested with the powers for the handling of these sectors in a holistic manner. The companies in this sector therefore can look forward to a world-class regulatory regime.

 

From Convergence to Divergence

 

9.0       The Communication Convergence (Draft) Bill 2000 and Information Technology Act (2000) of the Central Government clearly show the direction in which the Country is moving towards, to facilitate a single communication network catering to all types of technologies (i.e. Internet, Datacom, Telecom, Wireless, Wireline, Fixed, Mobile, Cellular, Satellite Communication, etc.), and e-Commerce. The proposed legislation is comprehensive in nature and chalks out a framework to deal with all aspects concerning convergence of technologies. The legislation will go a long way in leveraging India's much vaunted strength in the IT sector towards using it to promote growth and income.  In the welter of theories and predictions, market analysts view that convergence will lead to co-evolution. The PC and TV will not come together to form a single whole : their paths would merely cross (“divergence”). In the process, not only will the two change but may even give birth to new creations. History has taught "when new forms of communication emerge, older forms do not die"[22] (e.g. AM versus FM radio, Print Media versus TV). Expansion in the means of delivery brought on by improvements in technology and by convergence may shift the bottleneck from delivery to content, and may lead to a shortage of adequate content in the medium term[23].  Where market players control the access to the Customers, the company concerned may be able to discriminate in favour of its own services. It is also expected that the parallel expansion broadcasting, mobile multimedia and voice applications, and the use of wireless technologies within fixed networks will lead to a significant growth in demand.

 

Measures for promotion of e-governance at various levels of Government to achieve transparency, accountability and good governance in Public Administration

 

Public Administration

 

10.0     Public Administration is concerned with the activities of the three branches of Government namely, Legislature, Executive and Judiciary, at national level, state level and Grass-root levels (district/sub-district levels) in the Country. Good Governance means providing opportunities and proper delivery of goods and services to the people in a fair, just, effective, responsible and open way.  Transparency means openness in the laws, rules and procedures, and the decision-making processes of government and its public institutions.  The concept of Accountability means government and its institutions must be duty bound to honestly account to the public and the media, in relation to their performance in carrying out their responsibilities.

 

10.1     Information is a vital resource and has its applications in rural, agricultural, social, and industrial development. The extent of the use and application of scientific, technical and social information to advance development determines the progress of a nation. Information Technology and Communication Technology (ICT) – Informatics Networks - are increasingly considered as development tools. Traditionally, the Government is the “major generator” of socio-economic information in India, for their own use as well as for public use.  Information collection process in the government departments is a decentralized activity between the Central and various State Governments, as laid down in the Constitution. Transfer of information is considered as a basic requisite for determining the future activities of economic and social development of a country.

 

10.2     Harnessing the information revolution for economic development, social cohesion and poverty alleviation in the 21st century is the theme for various National and International Conferences. Informatics Networks play an important role in the information flow, at a lightning speed,  from the implementation level to the development planners at macro (national), macro-meso (region covering more than one state), meso (state) and micro (district, block and village) levels. Instantaneous global communication, transactions, feedback, and follow-ups, have thrown up enormous opportunities and challenges for :

 

¨      learning and counter-learning,

¨      moves and counter moves,

¨      mobilisation and counter-mobilisation, and

¨      opinion making and breaking.

 

Distributed databases are the converging point of networking the database technologies to bring “power to the People” for planning and bringing in responsive administration in developing countries. Fusion of Information Technology, Bio-Technology, GIS Technology, and Remote Sensing Technology bring the required Science and  Technology inputs for regional rural development in the country.

 

Informatics-led Development Programme – A step towards to overcome “digital divide”

 

11.0     In 1975, the Government of India strategically decided to take effective steps for  development of information systems and utilization of information resources,  and also to introduce computer-based decision support system in government ministries and departments to facilitate planning and programme implementation to further the growth of economic development and social development. The Central Government was of the view  that "development within the government administration" can be used as a “lever for technical development in society” (i.e. Informatics-led Development) as a whole. As a result of this, the Central Government nucleated  a high priority plan project "National Informatics Centre (NIC)" under the Electronics Commission / Department of Electronics, in 1976, with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This strategic decision to overcome “Digital Divide” in Central Government Departments and Ministries,  taken during the Fifth  Plan Period (i.e. 1972-77), resulted in launching of the Central Government Informatics Development Programme in various Departments and Ministries through National Informatics Centre (NIC). In view of its relevance for all round socio-economic growth (i.e. employment generation and hence poverty reduction), and also to get benefit of the emerging digital economy, the Central Government has created a new Ministry of Information Technology (MIT) by merging the DOE, National Informatics Centre (NIC) and Electronics and Software Export Promotion Council  in 1999.

 

Emergence of the National Informatics Centre

 

12.0     The National Informatics Centre (NIC) is  the nodal S&T organization in the Ministry of Information Technology (MIT), for informatics development and networking in government, corporate and cooperative sectors for decision support. NIC has been instrumental in steering Information and Communication Technology (ICT) applications in Government Departments at Central, State and Districts, facilitating  improvement in government services, wider transparency in government functions, and improvement in decentralised planning and management.  To facilitate this, NIC has established a nationwide ICT Network - NICNET - with gateway nodes at about 55 Central Government Departments, 35 State/UT Secretariats, and 550 District Collectorates, for IT services. In view of its cost effectiveness, NIC had taken a leading  step in establishing  Hub based Wireless Data Network” in many state capitals (Agarthala, Bangalore, Bhuvaneshwar, Calcutta, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Mumbai, and Shillong) in 1997-99 to facilitate high-speed access, ranging from 64 Kbps to 2 Mbps through NICNET.

 

12.1     NIC has played an important role of an “active” catalyst and “facilitator” in informatics development programme in Governments at the national, state and district levels, during the last 25 years, and has "reached out into India" during 1985-90,  even before the arrival of “Internet” Technology, to 550 districts of the Country, which is a land of diversity with  different types of terrain, various Agro-climatic conditions, different levels of socio-economic conditions, and varied levels of regional development, etc. To customize applications for facilitating  decision support in development and responsive administration (earlier version of e-governance), NIC had established its Project Centres at NICNET Nodes.

 

 

12.2     NICNET links extends to Andaman Islands, Lakshdweep & Minicoy Islands, and Ladakh Region. The NIC provides the state-of-the-art IT  solutions to information management, information dissemination, and decision support requirements of the Central as well as State Governments, the Corporate  Sector and the Cooperative Sector. The NIC implements Information Technology Projects, in collaboration with the Central and State Governments in the areas of  (a) Centrally sponsored schemes and Central sector schemes, (b) State sector and State sponsored projects, (c) District Administration sponsored projects. NIC has been instrumental in adopting Information Technology and Communication Technology to reach out into India (i.e. by implementing IT applications in Social & Public administrations), which are discernible from the following developments:

 

(a)    Central Government Informatics Development programme A strategic decision to overcome “Digital Divide” in Central Government Departments and Ministries  during the Fifth  Plan Period (i.e. 1972-77);

(b)   NICNET gateway for Internet/Intranet Access and Resources Sharing in Central Government Ministries and Departments in 1980s and 1990s;

(c)    IT in Social Applications and Public Administrations;

(d)   State Government Informatics Development Programme - A strategic decision to overcome “Digital Divide” in Central and State Governments during the Seventh Plan Period (i.e. 1985-1990);

(e)    NICNET - A first of its kind among the developing countries, using the state-of- the-art Ku-band VSAT technology- facilitates (i) decentralised planning, (ii) improvement in government services, (iii) wider transparency of national and local governments and improving their accountability to the people;

(f)     DISNIC – A NICNET Based District Government Informatics Programme : A strategic decision in 1985 to overcome “Digital Divide” in 540 District Administrations;

 

E-governance - Knowledge Networking for better governance

 

13.0     Digital Governance is a popular term to focus on the new, evolving forms of governance - Electronic Governance. Good Governance rests on the pillars of knowledge and recognition of this set of knowledge by the decision-makers. Digitisation of this entire set of knowledge within a network which links every individual including the decision-makers and gives democratic freedom to everyone to access and make use of this knowledge paves the way for Digital Governance. The widening use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)  is leading to distributed Knowledge and Power structures. It is changing the political scenes as it is reshaping democracy and the way citizens interact with the Government. With the emergence of pro-active Knowledge Societies, Governments will have no choice but to constantly improvise to bring in greater efficiency, accountability and transparency in their functioning. E-governance[24] is part of the Government's policy for social inclusion, part of its strategy is to enhance information technology and to help enhance people's lives, and this is carried out through the use of:

·        Email

·        Web publishing

·        Intranet Development

·        Promoting citizen access

 

E-governance is the effective use of Information Technology to improve the system of governance that is in place and thus provide better services to the community.

 

13.1     E-governance is beyond the scope of e-government. While e-government is defined as a mere delivery of government services and information to the public using electronic means, e-governance allows direct participation of constituents in government activities. E-governance is not just about government web site and e-mail. It is not just about service delivery over the Internet. It is not just about digital access to government information or electronic payments. It will change how citizens relate to governments as much as it changes how citizens relate to each other. It will bring forth new concepts of citizenship, both in terms of needs and responsibilities[25]. 

 

13.2     E-governance will truly allow citizens to participate in the government decision-making process, reflect their true needs and welfare by utilizing e-government as a tool. Introduction of e-governance is a key to make information technology (IT) relevant to ordinary citizens  in India where a large numbers of population are poor and a digital divide is a significant problem. E-governance will allow ordinary people to constantly interface with the government in both local and central level on various matters. E-governance must be a high priority for India, as it is the only means of taking IT to the masses. Additionally, this is a smart and economical process of building the Indian domestic software market. The e-governance market is expected to earn $6 billion in 2007-08. In 2000-01 alone, the government expenditure on IT is expected at about $556 million[26].

 

13.3 The challenges in processing, transmitting, and storing information in a manner which protects its authenticity, integrity and confidentiality have been well publicized and have become part of the public debate on the future of communications in general. The Government must meet these challenges while supporting the goal of modernizing government business processes by conducting these processes electronically. Accomplishing these objectives requires the proper and timely use of security services so that businesses and the public operate in a trusted environment. One element has now emerged as the foundation for secure distributed applications, including supply chain management, secure messaging, e-commerce and intranet applications - that element is Public Key Infrastructure(PKI). PKI, which envisages the use of Digital Certificates, is the key to ensuring authenticated private and non repudiable communications & transactions over un-trusted networks.

 

 

Major Initiatives in e-governance and their implementation

 

 

13.4     Developments in electronic governance (e-governance) provide opportunities to harness the power of Information Technology (IT) to make the business of governance inexpensive, qualitatively responsive, and truly encompassing. Research studies in the 1990s confirm that “while the  full economic impact of Information Technology cannot be precisely evaluated, its impact has been significant”[27], and also establish the fact that a complementarity relationship exists between Information Technology  and Productivity (i.e. good communication system and information system reinforces commitments to productivity). Davenport (1997)[28] recommends an ecological approach to master information and knowledge environment, as technology alone is not enough for success in information age and depends on information ecology which is  the entire information environment of the firm including culture, behaviour and work process, politics, and the technology that is in place. "Trickle-down" and "Trickle-up"  processes facilitate development of IT applications for productivity improvement in government.

 

13.5     As a major step in bringing in e-governance, NIC implements the following "minimum agenda" of E-Governance, as announced by the Central Government  :

:

·        Internet/Intranet  Infrastructure  (PCs, Office Productivity Tools,  Portals/Vortals on Business of Allocation and Office Procedures) up-to Section Officers level 

·        IT  Empowerment of Officers /officials (Training)

·        IT enabled Services

·        G2G - Government -to-Government Portal

·        G2B - Government-to-Business Portal

·        G2C - Government-to-Citizen Portal : Community Information Centre, AGMARKNET Nodes, Passports, Courts, Central Excise & Customs, Land Records, Property Registration, etc.

·        IT Plans for Sectoral Development

·        Business Process Re-engineering

·        Video-Conferencing

·        Replication of  ICT Application : G2C operational at  District : Fatehgarh Sahib (Punjab), Collectorate-2000, ZillaParishad-2001, STAR/CARD/PRISM/PEARL, Ruralsoft,  in other States

·        "India-Image" Portal : A G2C Portal  to be a state-of-the-art-portal of the Country

·        G2G Portal, G2B Portal and G2C Portal  in Central Government Departments and its Apex Organisations  with respect to (to begin with):

¨      Central Excise and Customs

¨      Registrar of Companies

¨      Courts - Supreme Courts, High Courts and District Courts

¨      Passports

¨      Road Transport

¨      Banks and Financial Institutions

¨      Agriculture 

¨      Water Resources

¨      Women and Child Development

¨      Health and Family Welfare

¨      Rural Development

¨      Higher Educational Institutions

¨      Energy

¨      Industry and Commerce

¨      Parliament

 

·        Development of an "Informatics Model" based "business process re-engineering methodology"  and the features of  the  Information Technology Act 2000, to get maximum ROI (Return On Investment) as well as increase in productivity and delivery of services in government (i.e. Design and development of an "IT Governance" Model in Government) in the Central Government, State Government and District Administrations.

 

·        Expansion of NICNET to cover all developmental blocks (~6500 in Nos.) to facilitate G2C access through CIC, in the country.

 

13.6     In view of  the “propensity” for IT-led development in Government,  the NIC plays its catalytic role in the area of “informatics for development”, which  include,

 

¨      Data warehousing (Data Bases & Model Bases) and Mining

¨      Network services (Internet, Intranet, & Extranet)

¨      Geographical Information System (GIS)

¨      Application of Remote Sensing Data

¨      Multi-media Information System,

¨      E-Governance &  E-Commerce,

¨      Decision Technology System, and

¨      Sectoral IT Plans

¨      IT Training for Government Employees – IT empowerment, and

¨      NICNET Video Conferencing, and

¨       Total-IT solution

 

13.7     Warana Wired Village”, which is an Joint-venture project of NIC with the Government of Maharashtra and Warana Vibhag Shikshan Mandal, is a “technology solution” of NIC to overcome “last-mile” and “digital divide” problem at the grass-roots levels in India, and also empowering citizens through “access to information and  knowledge”[29]. NICNET based “Community Information Centres (CIC)[30] in about 420 blocks in the North Eastern States (Arunachal  Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, and Sikkim) aim to “boost efficiency and enhance market integration” through Internet/Intranet  for sustainable regional development. Prawara Rural Educational Society  project and Rajapur Parliamentary Constituency “Gyanada” Project in the State of Maharashtra, initiated under the “MP Local Area Development” Programme are examples of “Informatics” and “Communication Networks”  displaying their role in grass-root level development in the Country. 

 

13.8     In view of its expertise in government informatics, and also to avoid coordination by a web of  agencies in the Government, it has been suggested that NIC to function as the nodal agency for "e-governance"  in the Central Government.  Government of India’s strategies on “development of information systems and utilisation of information resources” initiated since 1975, have proved the existence of the complementarity relationship between communication system and information system : the  “Communication System and Information System reinforce commitments to productivity”  holds good[31]. Starting as a small programme under an external stimulus by an UNDP project in 1975, NIC has grown incrementally and later exponentially as one of India’s major programmes, which has helped to usher in the required transformation to cope with the trends in the new millennium.

 

Recommendations

 

14.0     Development economy has witnessed industrial revolution, agricultural revolutions (green–foodgrain, white-milk, yellow-edible oil, blue-fish, and now rainbow), information technology revolution, and bio-technology revolution. Information Technology and Bio-Technology have now become the “drivers” of globalisation of the economy, with their complementarities of liberalisation, privatisation and tighter intellectual property rights[32]. The Tenth Plan Approach Paper of the Planning Commission calls for an economic growth target of  8% during the Plan Period, with emphasis on second generation reforms, reduction in subsidies, and hard economic decisions to raise resources for increased investment and prune non-plan expenditure. The Approach Paper reiterates  faster growth is necessary in order to maintain India’s position in the World Economy and build upon, in the context of the changing global circumstances and growing aspirations of the People of India.

 

14.1     This report examined the scenario of development of technologies and services, and their convergence in Telecommunications Sector, Information Technology Sector and Information & Broadcasting Sector, the on-going efforts on promoting e-governance at various levels of Government for delivery of services to the citizens,  proposed regulatory measures  on convergence technologies and services,  the Central Government’s “Informatics-led development programme  and “development with-in” policy to overcome “digital divide   and  establish e-government (strategic decision taken in the year 1975), the role of National Informatics Centre (NIC) as an “active catalyst and facilitator” and various state governments in the  on-going process of  e-government and e-governance (i.e. digital governance or IT-governance) at national, state, and district levels of government, and finally the infrastructure requirements for faster growth and penetration of Internet and convergence of services to strengthen the ongoing efforts as well as new services for establishing e-governance in the country, to usher in sustainable development and growth.

 

14.2     Convergence describes a process change in industry structures (Computer Industry, Information/Content Industry, & Communication Industry)  that combines markets through technological and economic dimensions to meet merging consumer needs. Since both the Internet and Broadcasting are digital, broadcasting is the bridging technology that converge broadcasting and the Internet into a single, seamless digital medium. The Internet (i.e. network of networks based on TCP/IP communication protocol) is the driving force of convergence of technologies and services industries. Convergence of technologies will facilitate  to network ever increasing number of households ( i.e. to overcome "The Last Mile problem" - Broadband connections covering the last segment of the data pipeline)   by using the already existing telephone lines, television cables, and the electric power lines. IPv6 (128-bit address) will facilitate convergence of technologies i.e., an Era of IP anywhere. Software radio is emerging as the pragmatic solution for future mobile systems,  holding the key to total convergence. This technological convergence demystify  Convergence is not an issue in the backbone, but in the edge (last-mile problem)”.

 

14.3     The Convergence Communications Bill 2000 envisages four different service providers : Network Infrastructure Facility Provider (NIFP), Network Service Provider (NSP), Application Service Provider (ASP), and Content ASP. In the era of convergence, an ASP/Content ASP can utilize the services of any NSP for carrying their application/content. In the present “crucial decade” of this millenium, a high rate of investment in Information Technology and its related convergent sectors capital and a supportive environment are expected to achieve “digital economy”. Market analysts expect a dominance of complementary convergence (1+1 = 3) over competitive aspects.

 

14.4     Emergence of Information Technology on the national agenda and the announcement of IT policies by various State Governments (i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Pondicherry, Sikkim, and Tamilnadu, etc.) have recognised the “Convergence of core technologies  and E-Governance” as the tool for sustainable development and globalisation of economy. Fusion of Information Technology, Bio-Technology, GIS Technology, and Remote Sensing Technology bring the required Science and  Technology inputs for regional rural development in the country. Data broadcast applications (Intranets, Extranets, Focussed Affinity Networks (FANs) [i.e. Close-User-Groups], and Branded Business Channels) will have impact on productivity and economic growth. The hypothesis: “diversity of applications and services increases, whenever core technologies converge” holds good.

 

14.5     Convergence of Technologies and Services may lead to “divergence” of products and services and hence higher private investment, as the Government has been engaged in disinvestment  of various Public Sector Undertakings, of late. The Public Investment on establishing Government Informatics Network (NICNET) by the Central Government to facilitate “e-Government” for decision support in various government departments at national, state and district level (550 districts administrations) in 1980s has induced public investments by various State Governments and  also private investments for ICT industries on a large scale, in India in 1990s. But “Convergence and E-Governance Sector” is becoming a  niche market wherein both public investment and private investments are expected in ICT industries, both hardware and software.

 

14.6     To take advantage of the convergence of technologies and services sectors for promotion of  e-governance” (digital governance) and also “corporate governance”, it is essential to have a national organization to play as an effective “catalyst” and “facilitator” , who will make available the emerging killer applications :

 

·        Unified messaging

·        Collaborative data sharing (e-commerce and datawarehousing)

·        Video streaming and conferencing

·        Unified Internet multimedia service

·        Internet service using satellites

·        Ultra High speed internet service

·        Expertise content service

 

over a single corporate network, often run on Internet Protocol. National Informatics Centre (NIC) of the Ministry of Information Technology (MIT) has been instrumental (i) in steering Information and Communication Technology (ICT) applications in government departments at Central, State and Districts, (ii) facilitating  improvement in government services, (iii) wider transparency in government functions, and (iv) improvement in decentralised planning and management. NIC is the only  national S&T organisation  having the infrastructures to function as four different service providers,  envisaged  in the Convergence Communication Bill 2000 :

 

·        Network Infrastructure Facility Provider (NIFP)

·        Network Service Provider (NSP)

·        Application Service Provider

·        Content ASP

 

and also other  capabilities and infrastructures to implement the emerging killer applications. NIC implements  "minimum agenda" of E-Governance of the Central Government.   In view of its expertise in government informatics, it has been suggested that NIC to function as the nodal agency for "e-governance"  at various levels of Governments. During the tenth plan period, it is suggested that NICNET to have a Metaframe System Server  based on the emerging IP-any-where  (thereby solving the “last mile” problem)  and OpenGIS architecture (Figure-2).  This requires strengthening the existing NICNET infrastructure as well as to extend to sub-district levels (~6500 development blocks) for promoting “e-governance” at various levels of government. Public Investment is required to strengthen NICNET to undertake this innovative infrastructure during the Tenth Plan Period, which will “crowd-in” private investment in the ICT industries and services in the converged form. Major recommendations are as follows:-

 

(a)    Establishing a National Information Infrastructure (NII) as a “network of networks” including such nationwide networks as NICNET, ERNET, HVNet & I-Net, in addition to an extensive Fibre Optic Telecommunication Backbone  being set up by Department of Telecommunication (DOT),  Railways, and the Private Sector[33], as the "National Information Infrastructure" has the characteristics of a “public good” and is viewed as fundamental and critical bases for future economic and social development.

 

(b)   Implementation of minimum agenda on e-governance at various levels of government by 2005 ;

 

(c)    Implementation of the action plans formulated by the sub-group on “e-governance” of the main Working Group on “IT for the Masses  (2000) constituted by the Ministry of Information Technology;

 

(d)   Allocation of 2-3% of the Non-Plan Expenditure of the Central Government and out of this amount, allocation of 1% as an R&D budget component for S&T projects in ICT applications to facilitate strengthening “e-governance” ;

 

(e)    Identification of National Informatics Centre as the Nodal Agency to implement “e-governance”, in view of its expertise in ‘e-government” at various levels of government, since 1975.;

 

(f)     Strengthening NIC as central Certification Agency (CA) for Government organisations to Issue Digital Certificates for ensuring security, integrity, authenticity and non-repudiation of Information Transactions and prevent impersonification and other frauds.

 

(g)    Strengthening of NICNET, which has its nodes in all 550 district administration, 35 state secretariats and about 55 central government departments, with  Metaframe System Server  based on the emerging IP-any-where  (thereby solving the “last mile” problem)  and OpenGIS architecture (Figure-2), so as to make the Government Informatics Network (NICNET) delivering services using the state-of-the-art ICT network;

 

(h)    Expansion of  NICNET infrastructure to sub-district levels (~6500 development blocks) for promoting “e-governance” at various levels of government.;

 

(i)      Creating  a “National Free  Trade Zone on Internet” to take advantage of convergence of technologies and services, and e-commerce

 

(j)     Securing  a high rate of investment  in ICT industries & applications leading to e-commerce and e-governance, as the impact of IT would be predominant in the social sectors like health, education, judiciary and rural development, and the primary sector - agriculture.

 

(k)   Launching pilot projects to overcome the “last mile” problems – i.e. to network ever increasing number of households by using the already existing telephones, television cables and electric power connections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Figure - 2 : OpenGIS Architecture

 

 



* Submitted to the Planning Commission’s Working Group on  “Convergence and E-Governance” for the formulation of Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-2007)

[1] M.Moni is Deputy Director General, National Informatics Centre, Ministry of Information Technology

[2] N.Vijayaditya is  Director General, National Informatics Centre, Ministry of Information Technology

[3] see http://www.opengis.org

[4] Asian Productivity Organisation (APO) : “Strategic Management and Information Technology”, Report on APO Top Management Forum, 1989.

[5] K.V.Sundaram : "The Small Farmer Development Strategies For The Next Millennium",  presented at National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad (India), 2000

[6] Mark Hukill, Ryoto Ono & Chandrasekhar Vallath (ed) : “Electronic Communication Convergence – Policy Challenges in  Asia”,  Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2000

[7] US Department of Commerce (1998) : “The Emerging Digital Economy Report”

[8] Eunice Wang (1999) : ICT and Economic Development in Taiwan : Analysis of the Evidence”, Telecommunications Policy, 23(3,4), April/May 1999, pp235-243

[9] National Task Force on Information Technology and Software Development (1998)

[10] M.Moni (2000): “New Productivity Paradigms and Strategies in the e-Age – Government Initiatives on IT-led Development in India”, International Conference on Productivity in the e-Age, Asian Productivity Organisation, 22-24 November 2000, New Delhi.

[11] Planning Commission’s Administrative Guidelines issued in 1998 to various central government ministries and departments.

[12] Ajay Shah and Shuvam Misra (1997) : “Designing India's National Information Infrastructure”, Economic and Political Weekly, Volume XXXII, Number 44--45, 8 November 1997, page 2880--2884

[13] Planning Commission (1997) : “Ninth Five Year Plan 1997-2002 : Thematic Issues and Sectoral programmes”, Volume-II, Page 923

[14] MIT (2000) :  Ministry of Information Technology - Recommendations of the Working Group on “Information Technology for Masses” (2000), Government of India

[15] Annual Report, 1999-2000, Ministry of Information Technology, Government of India

[16] Dowling, M; Lechner,C &Thielmann,B (1998) : "Convergence - Innovation and Change of markets between television and online services", Electronic Market Journal, 8(4), 1998, S.31-35

[17] KPMG (1996) : Public Policy issues Arising From Telecommunications and Audiovisual Convergence, September 1996 and http://www.ipso.cec/be/infosoc/telecompolicy/en/study-en.htm

[18] Horst Stipp (1999) : "Convergence Now?, Journal of Media Management, 1(1), 1999 and also http://mediajournal.org

[19] Amdahl’s Constant says that most intelligent entities (computers and live organisms)  have roughly the same amount of memory (content) and bandwidth.  I.e. if there is one million bits of content stored, then the bandwidth is likely to be approximately one million bits per second.

[20] Hanada Tatsuro (1990) : “The Convergence of broadcasting and telecommunications in Japan” in D.Elixmann and K-H.Neumann, (eds), Coomunications Policy in Europe, Berlin/Heidelberg, Springer-verlag, pp277-306

[21] Kiyoshi Nakamura (1999) : “Japan’s TV Broadcasting in a Digital Environment”, Telecommunications Policy, 23(3,4), April/May 1999,  pp307-316

[22] Sudha Nagaraj (1998) : “Dawn of the Converging Age”, Computers Today (India), 1-15 November 1998,  pp 40-50

[23] European Commission : the Green Paper on Convergence of the Telecommunications, media and Information Technology Sectors, and the implications for regulation.

[24]  See http://www.britishcouncil.org/scotland/governance/egovernance.htm

[25] See http://www.iadb.org/ict4dev/governance.htm

[26] National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), New Delhi (India)

[27] The United States of America (Department of Commerce) (1997) : “The Emerging Digital Economy” http://www.ecommerce.gov

[28] Thomas H.Davenport : “Information Ecology : Mastering the Information and Knowledge Environment”, New York: Oxford University Press (1997), 255 pp

[29] Vijayaditya,N (2000) : A Wired Village : The Warana Experiment,  in “Information and Communication Technology in Rural Development : case Studies from India”, World Bank Institute, WBI Working Papers, 2000, pp99-106

[30] Ministry of Information Technology : “Community Information Centre” project, Government of India, 2000

[31] Erik Brynjolfsson & Shinkyu Yang : “ Information Technology and Productivity : A Review of the Literature” in Advances in Computer, Vol. 43, Academic Press, 1996)

[32] K.V.Sundaram : "The Small Farmer Development Strategies For The Next Millennium",  presented at National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad (India), 2000

[33] Planning Commission (1997) : “Ninth Five Year Plan 1997-2002 : Thematic Issues and Sectoral programmes”, Volume-II, Page 923