Centre for Internet & Society

His Excellency Mr. Abdul Kareem El-Samarai, the Iraqi Minister of Science and Technology was among 15 other senior bureaucrats from Iraq who met with Mr. ANP Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj to discuss the Ministry’s efforts at introducing ICT at the Panchayat level through its e-Panchayat initiatives. This was as part of their study tour to India in association with UNDP-Iraq and UNDP-India. They also met with Mr. Shankar Aggarwal, Additional Secretary, DIT earlier in the day who briefed them about the various aspects of the National e-Governance Plan envisaged by the Government of India to make government services accessible and affordable to all Indian citizens. This news was published by the Karnataka News Network on April 27, 2011.

"India-Iraq cooperation will extend beyond ICT to all other areas of governance within two months" announced Mr. El-Samarai in a separate meeting today as part of the study tour in Delhi convened by Communication Multimedia and Infrastructure (CMAI) Association of India in partnership with the Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore.

The meeting was also attended by top level telecom officials of the country including Mr. Satya Pal, Advisor to the DoT, Mr. NK Goyal, President, CMAI, Mr. B.M. Baveja, Senior Director and Group Head, Ministry of IT and Mr. S.N. Gupta, Chief Regulatory Officer, BT Telecom among others. Mr. El-Samarai emphasised that Iraq’s newly elected Government is stable and is taking all efforts to use ICT to provide basic services to Iraqi citizens apart from forwarding reforms in health and educational sectors. He stressed on the need for Iraq’s neighbours to respect the sovereignty of the country and welcomed India’s cooperation in Iraq’s efforts in introducing e-governance initiatives and use of ICT in the country. "We look forward to cooperation with India in enhancing our national efforts at governance reform", he said.

"E-Governance is crucial to effect a higher growth rate in India – upto 12% - and ensure that the growth is inclusive and sustainable", said Mr. Aggarwal while noting that e-governance is not only electronic governance but also “empowered governance". The delegates were also addressed about the recent developments in the e-governance strategy of the government including formulation of the National e-Governance Plan, mobile governance and standardisation initiatives, and establishment of data centres and Citizen Service Centres (CSCs) across the country.

The delegation's visit to Delhi was followed by their visit to Bangalore last week in context of the ‘Building e-Iraq National e-Governance Strategy’ of the Iraqi Government which attempts to increase transparency and government accountability in Iraq through ICT in addition to providing better services to citizens through e-governance initiatives. “This visit is not an end in itself but the beginning of an expanded cooperation between Iraqi and Indian Governments in forwarding national efforts at development and reform through use of technology”, said Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, Country Director of UNDP-India.

The delegation visited the National Informatics Centre and got a glimpse of the technology used at the NIC to manage data integration and ICT infrastructure for the entire e-government framework of the country. They also got a direct experience of the technology as they interacted with the NIC officials at Gandhinagar and Chennai directly from the Delhi office through video conferencing technology. Mr. B.K. Gairola, Director General of NIC addressed the delegation about the functions of the NIC including infrastructure for GIS facilities, cyber security for government departments, establishment of data centres and MMPs executed by the NIC to strengthen e-governance processes in the country.

The delegation had a meeting with the Secretary, IT, Government of Delhi yesterday about the National Convergence Mission Plan. They had also visited Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore One Centre and Azim Premji Foundation in Bangalore last week apart from other e-governance initiatives. “We really appreciate the efforts of UNDP in organising the study tour and we will take all efforts to strengthen the relationship that Iraq shares with India”, said Mr. El-Samarai. The last leg of the study tour included a meeting with Mr. Patrice Coeur-Bizot, UNDP Resident Representative who noted that 60 years of cooperation between UNDP-India and the Indian Government resulted in the first ever discussion on e-governance in India under the auspices of the UNDP. “I cannot stress enough on the importance of forging synergy of efforts between UNDP-India and the Iraqi e-Government initiative”, he said. The tour will be concluded by a reception hosted by the Country Representative, UNDP-India before returning to Baghdad.

For more details contact- [email protected] (Krithika Dutta, Centre for Internet and Society-Bangalore) 

Read the original news published by Karnataka News Network here

Filed under: