Learner’s Submission: Online Public Service in Southern India

“I am from Kerala, a state in southern India. The Government of Kerala has established Kerala State Information Technology Mission (KSITM) to promote the e-Governance in the state. KSITM is also the nodal agency of Kerala State Information Technology department and function as a core autonomous body. Enormous e-Governance projects are operational at various levels of Kerala government departments to cater to all sections of society.

I have made use of many online services rendered by the state government and would like to mention about “Akshaya” program which I think is more relevant.

“Akshaya”, is a flagship rural e-governance programme conceived by the government of Kerala. This prestigious program of Kerala state was designed by the Kerala IT Mission in its first phase in 2003 in order to improve e-literacy in underserved areas.  The second phase of the program was designed to provide a platform for government to citizen services through public – private partnership. The entire project is implemented through three-tier Panchayat Raj Institutions and the District Panchayat of the respective districts is the overall coordinator. Committees for the implementation of this project are constituted at various levels i.e. State, District, Block, Municipality, Panchayat, and Ward levels.

The key objective of Akshaya programme is to provide Information and Communications Technology (ICT)  accessibility and services to the reach of the common man and, thus, to bridge the gap between the “Information Rich and the Information Poor” . This programme focus at three types of service delivery models towards achieving sustainability.

The first type of service delivery consists of five core services in the model of ‘Government to Citizens’ which includes (i) imparting training, (ii) disseminating information, (iii) enabling e-transactions, (iv) facilitating e-governance and (v) acts as a communication hub.

Second type of service delivery in Akshaya programme relates to industry/ business in the model of ‘Business to Consumers’. The multipurpose online community technology centre established under this programme, known as “e-kendras” enters in to tie-ups with various companies/business units to facilitate the services provided by them.

The final type of service delivery model is designed with social development perspective and provides space for social activities like children clubs, women self help groups, farmer groups, and unemployed youth forums. The e-kendras are also endeavoring ‘Citizens to Citizens’ services like establishing farmer’s community online network throughout the state of Kerala. This e-network provides access to information on market demand, prices, good agricultural practices, etc. This system also helps the farmers in selling their products directly to the prospective buyers without any intermediaries.

Out of the 33 million citizens in the state of Kerala, nearly 60 percent have been made use of the above services rendered through around 2000 Akshaya centers. It is pertinent to note that the Akshaya centers, run by private entrepreneurs who collectively earns 30 million Indian Rupee per month and generates employment for over 20,000 individuals.  Akshaya programme thus provide a major fillip in rural empowerment as well as in the economic development of the entire state.” – Joemon Joseph – Kerala

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