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When it comes to e-governance, the latest buzzword in the corridors of power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a firm believer of its force multiplier effect. And having walked the talk in Gujarat, a state he led from the front for the past 13 years, the PM is now all set to replicate Gujaratís model of e-governance in other states as well in a bid to catapult the country to the next level of development using this potent tool of easy, effective and economical governance.
Once a laggard in the IT arena, Gujarat today has the largest optical fibre wide area network in the whole of Asia, stretching over an area of over 50,000 km. This provides government functionaries with a platform to interact not only with the lowest-rung officers all throughout the state but also with the people in rural areas through video conferencing. The state has made e-governance functional in all its 141 municipalities with Citizen Facilitation Centres functional in all the major centres of Gujarat. At the district level, taluka level and in municipal areas, computerised civic centres have been established where the concept of one-day governance has been implemented. This experiment has been further taken up to the village level by establishing e-grams equipped with computers and internet connectivity. All 14,000 gram panchayats have been made e-grams. The E-dhara project for total computerisation of land records has been extremely successful and widely acclaimed.
Other areas of e-governance include electronic weighbridges and smart cards for driving licenses, online and roaming ration card system, online filing of sales tax returns, connectivity between courts and jails, creation of huge data base of youths available for employment, online availability of government resolutions and forms in digital format, departmental websites disseminating information on various government schemes and activities.
In view of its stellar track record, Gujarat has been widely felicitated, the most recent feather to its much-adorned cap being the best e-governed state award from the government of India in January 2007. Jyotsna Bhatnagar & Nirwa Mehta take a look at some of the projects which make the Gujarat model of e-governance worth emulating:
Gujarat has put in place a model IT infrastructure providing connectivity to thousands of villages across the state. Though part of the national e-governance programme (NEGP), unquestionably one of the most ambitious programmes launched by India, Gujaratís implementation has been spectacularly successful largely on account of some proactive measures