e-Governance: Bihar 2015
In 2005, Bihar’s government still relied on Remington typewriters and old, dilapidated equipment to conduct the business of the state. Officials did not have access to new information or communications technologies, not could they use advanced techniques for governance that other states in India were already using.
As chief minister, Nitish Kumar pledged to make Bihar one of the top five e-governed, IT-enabled, e-literate states in the country by 2012. With the aim of making the government efficient, responsive, transparent, and cost-effective, his government rapidly introduced a range or measures that would put Bihar on par with other Indian states and even turn it into a model for other states and countries.
Measures taken by the government of Nitish Kumar
- Connected most of Bihar’s departments through state-of-the-art Web and emails systems.
- Introduced ICT policies for four key areas: ICT Policy for Government, ICT Policy for Citizens, ICT Policy for Education, and ICT Policy for Industries.
- Trained top-level officials to block development officers in basic computer literacy and new software systems.
- Introduced the use of technology in land registration to digitize land records through a new System for Computerized Registration (SCORE) system.
- Improved efficiency and introduced checks and balances in the state’s finances by computerizing the entire treasury.
- Implemented a web-based tax collection system for businesses to file tax returns and pay business tax.
- Set up Jankari, a call-center for logging and processing Right to Information requests.
- Introduced an SMS-monitoring system to track implementation of key government schemes in the state, such as the public distribution system, pension program, child and maternal health service delivery, bicycle and school uniform programs, and rainfall monitoring.
- Focused on boosting mobile phone subscribers and mobile technology.
- Extended ICT to the state’s jails so that prisoners could “appear” in court via video conferencing.
- Unveiled a “city surveillance and dial 100” scheme to install at least 100 CCTV cameras across Patna.
- Initiated the world’s largest wifi zone stretching to 20 kilometers in Patna.
The impact of such initiatives on Bihar’s governance is apparent. The state has come a long way in updating its systems and operating cutting-edge technology in certain sectors. Not only the citizens of Bihar but also the central government and international organizations have recognized these efforts of Nitish Kumar’s government.
Achievements & Impact:
- Bihar’s SCORE land registration system received the Indian Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration.
- The Jankari Call Center received the Government of India’s gold media for Outstanding Citizen-centric Program in 2008.
- Bihar received the Manthan South Asia ICT award for its technology initiatives.
- The One World Foundation India has commended Bihar’s Right to Public Services Act.
- The computerized Bihar treasury has equipped the Finance Department with real-time expenditure tracking and means for effective budgetary control.
- More than 80,000 businesses filed returns electronically in 2013 through the online tax payment system—accounting for more than 90% of the state’s tax payments in this category.
- The Jankari call center for the implementation of the Right to Information Act has made it easier for all citizens to file a right to information request.
- By June 2013, the Bihar government had received over 71 million application under the Right to Public Services Act and completed 66 million of these.
- From 4.2 million subscribers in 2005, mobile phone users swelled to 26 million in 2009 and 61 million in 2013.
- Till date, over 1,22,590 criminals have appeared before court via video conferencing, thereby relieving the pressure on police and jail resources and making the system efficient.
- Patna has the world’s largest wifi zone stretching to 20 kilometers.
Moving forward, the Bihar government under Nitish Kumar is investing in an IT city on a 200-acre plot at Nalanda University in Rajgir, infotech buildings and a park in Patna, free wifi hotspots, an angle fund of 25 crore for IT entrepreneurs, and IT skill development for youth. Such measures will continue to boost the state’s performance in delivering services to its people as well as equip its public servants and citizens with technological skills for the future.