erajasthan report: Voicing Regional Concerns of Stakeholders in ICT

Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS) along with Department of IT, Ministry of Communication and IT, Government of India, National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), Government of India, as Co-organisers, launched the e-Rajasthan Summit, in association with UN Solution Exchange, Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI) and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) as supporting partners.

The spotlight was put on Rajasthan initiatives and efforts in bringing about a digitally inclusive society. It highlighted the role of ICTs playing the harbinger of a silent revolution in obscure towns and villages, of acknowledging the efforts and addressing the challenges, and of bringing all stakeholders with common concerns into one platform, the eRajasthan platform.

The one-day eRajasthan Summit aimed at active knowledge sharing, showcasing of existing e-Education, eHealth, eAgriculture, Telecentre, eGovernance and Municipal IT initiatives in the state, deliberated on the way forward, and sought to provide a platform to exchange ideas and promote capacity building.

 After the welcome note, Dr Ravi Gupta, Executive Director, CSDMS and Convener, eRajasthan 2009, provided an overview of the efforts of CSDMS in bringing ICTs closer to the masses. He reiterated that the efforts of CSDMS have consistently been focused on making ICTs more valuable and have delved deeper into finding out ways and means on how ICTs can have an enriching and socially relevant role in society. After having established its reach in the major metros through eINDIA, CSDMS has now proposed to go local through the eRajasthan Summit.

In his inaugural address, Shri Vipin Chandra Sharma, Principal Secretary, Technical Education, Government of Rajasthan, spoke about the value and importance of ICTs in all spheres of development and governance.  Economic development, he said, is propelled by the incorporation of technology and advancements and has contributed tremendously towards creating citizen friendly services. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and several other schemes have promoted social security and livelihood for the rural poor.  Land records computerization project in Rajasthan has been a commendable effort that has been implemented at the grass roots. It has proved to be a boon for the villager, citizen, and government revenue officials. Thus the State of Rajasthan has and will be using the tremendous ICT potential to move ahead in the development agenda.

Dr Sanjay Tyagi, Centre Head and Additional Director, STPI, Jaipur, emphasised on the potential of smaller cities like Jaipur to use and exploit the ICT potential to transform the State of Rajasthan into a development hub. According to him, Rajasthan needs to recognize its strengths and weaknesses and act on it to address key concerns. Rajasthan has tremendous potential in eGovernance and other domains. It is for the state government to be willing to exploit these potential and achieve new heights for the state.

Dr S N Ambedkar, Regional Director, Indira Gandhi National Open University Regional Centre, Rajasthan, stated that the state has a literacy rate of only 60%. Some of the reasons for the same include: Rajasthan's population density of 165/ km2 which is half that of the national average of 313/ km2; Climate conditions and lack of transport infrastructure; and girls from traditional families with cultural restrictions who are not allowed to go to college in another city/town. One of the ways to meet the needs of the people, especially women in the state of Rajasthan is distance education delivered through ICT.

Ashish Garg, Asia Regional Coordinator, Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI) highlighted the role of GeSCI in providing equitable access to knowledge, and the ability and capacity to create and share knowledge for society's overall development.  GeSCI's work has been guided by the principle of knowledge building and sharing

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