Reimagining Governance

     Among the many functions of any Government, evolving policies on various fronts, moving files and taking decisions in pursuance of those policies, delivering services, providing employment opportunities, enabling businesses to thrive, maintaining law and order, etc., would be the top priorities. With the large-scale use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in every aspect of governance, starting a couple of decades back, these functions have leap-frogged to hitherto unimaginable levels of efficiency in governance and concomitant citizen satisfaction. Expectations of better and better governance have also increased among our Citizens, as is evidenced by their aspirations frequently aired through the social media. Tamil Nadu has been in the forefront in using and consuming ICT for the larger benefit of its Citizens. Every Department/Agency of the Government of Tamil Nadu have taken proactive steps in this direction and the results are there for all to see. Huge investments have been made in creating IT infrastructure and developing end to end application software. Huge investments have also been made in parallel, to make Tamil Nadu a destination of choice for IT/ITeS investors from across the world. No wonder then, that Tamil Nadu is considered a State to look up to, insofar as ICT and its use cases are concerned. Hence, this is a good time to look back at the achievements and look forward to furthering this cause, using the Emerging Technologies.

     The Information Technology Department through the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT), has been in the forefront of IT promotion, procurement of IT products and services, e-Governance and establishing state of the art IT infrastructure. Tamil Nadu is today considered a powerhouse in promoting employment opportunities to our very talented young population, as large and small IT companies have established their base in
Tamil Nadu, thanks to the proactive ICT and industrial policies of the Government. Tamil Nadu has seen the burgeoning of more than 500 engineering colleges, internet bandwidth, health and educational facilities, air, sea and road transport facilities and social infrastructure in Chennai, tier-II and III locations spread across Tamil Nadu. A new ICT policy, a draft Electronics Hardware Manufacturing Policy, IT SEZs across Tamil Nadu, Rural BPO Policy, distribution of laptops to students, creation of IT infrastructure, creation of a Centre of Excellence in Fintech, participation in National and International events and roadshows, promotion of Startups, skill development through ICT Academy of Tamil Nadu, etc. are giving a further fillip to IT promotion in Tamil Nadu.

     Tamil Nadu has been a pioneer in e-Governance and the Information Technology Department, through the Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (TNeGA), ELCOT and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) have been spearheading this movement. Citizens are benefitting from end-to-end computerization of Government processes that has enabled them to receive services through Arasu e-Sevai Centres or on their desktops or smart phones. Now, TNeGA by establishing a Centre of Excellence in Emerging Technologies (CEET), has taken a huge step forward by taking advantage of the Emerging Technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of things, drones, augmented reality, virtual reality, additive manufacturing, analytics, geographic information system (GIS), etc. for solving pressing governance issues that were hitherto unsolved. Innovation is the key to using these technologies and young minds running startups revel in them to create products, processes and patents for the private sector. We deem it fit to use their innovative mind set and entrepreneurial skills, to come out with solutions for governance related problems also. The power of these technologies and the innovative thought processes in garnering its benefits will be unleashed in the near future. A State Family Database (SFDB) that is being created will ensure correct targeting of individual beneficiaries and households while extending Government welfare schemes. ERP driven Offices, predictive and data driven governance will become the order of the day. The right data is key to taking the right decisions, so that scarce resources are put to optimum use. Tamil Computing will also get a fillip through the Tamil Virtual Academy (TVA) as they exploit emerging technologies.

     While, the tools of ICT bring huge benefits to governance and society, it also has its own pitfalls. Hence, e-Governance and e-Security should go together. The Government of Tamil Nadu has taken a huge step towards ensuring
e-security of Government transactions by creating a Cyber Security Architecture for Tamil Nadu (CSA-TN). This will culminate in the creation of CERT-TN (Computer Emergency Response Team – Tamil Nadu), SOC-TN (Security Operations Centre – Tamil Nadu), CCMP-TN (Cyber Crisis Management Plan – Tamil Nadu) and SAF-TN (Security Architecture Framework – Tamil Nadu).

     For any e-Governance activity, the backbone is the IT infrastructure which includes the State Data Centre, State Disaster Recovery Centre, Cloud Infrastructure, State Wide Area Network, State Portal, etc., with bandwidth being the critical component. While huge investments have been made in this area, it is imperative that we move forward subsuming latest trends and technologies in this sector. A Special Purpose Vehicle called the
Tamil Nadu FibreNet Corporation (TANFINET) has been established to implement a
55,000 km optical fibre network under the BharatNet and TamilNet projects which will ensure atleast 1 Gbps connectivity to each of the 12,524 Village Panchayats, 528 Town Panchayats, 121 Municipalities and 15 Corporations. This will be a game changer for the larger benefit of our citizens enabling them to transact with Government from the comfort of their homes. This will also be inconformity with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations.Every Government Department / Agency will be enabled to enhance their application software in order to improve efficiency within their system and also for providing more efficient services to our Citizens. Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (TACTV) which provides digital cable TV services to our Citizens, will in the near future also provide IPTV services, Over The Top (OTT) services and Internet connectivity to rural and urban households, taking advantage of the BharatNet and TamilNet infrastructure respectively.

     Thus, we are seeing a paradigm shift in the way Government has been using the tools of Information Communication Technology for bringing in efficiency in the Government process as also for providing efficient services to our Citizens at their doorsteps. The Information Technology Department, will, with the support of all Government Departments / Agencies, MeitY, our numerous partners and stakeholders in the public sector, like NIC, CDAC, STPI, SETS, STQC, IITMRP, partners in the private sector like NASSCOM, CII, FICCI, MCC, ELCINA, MAIT, consultancies, startups and software companies etc. will lead this paradigm shift and give necessary fillip to all Government Departments / Agencies, right from the Village Office to the Secretariat, to be