e-Forms are the norm

Business-friendly governance with MCA 21

sarthak

Sarthak Ray | February 3, 2010




Money is a plastic card, orders are mouse-clicks on icons and transactions are numbers and codes entered on a website over a secure connection. So, paper forms and long queues seem plain archaic for business in a digital world. Thankfully, obsolescence of this nature has been taken care of by MCA 21 – since 2006. Anybody wanting to register a company in India now can do so by logging on to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs' flagship e-governance website. In fact, it is mandatory. All forms to be filed with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) are now e-forms. Before MCA 21 a company representative had to do rounds of the RoC's office for every transaction. Having just one office per state made matters worse as the office space would be resemble a castle raid in October-November – the peak filing season for companies. All payments were to be made in cash or through demand drafts. Paper documentation created a mountains of forms to be sorted. Retrieving information from these piles was a nightmare. Now, unique identification numbers and digital signatures have been provided to all companies. All MCA records have been digitized and put online for easy retrieval. A company director or a person intending to be the director of a start-up can obtain an identification number online and use it for all dealings with the MCA. Over six crore pages of paper records have been transferred online. Tanmoy Chakrabarty, vice-president of the TCS' Global Government Services division, says “It would not be an exaggeration to say that MCA21 has turned the environment of MCA offices across the country by 360 degrees. TCS worked through each process of the Ministry, and had interactions with everyone from the top leadership, to the employees, to company representatives to become cognizant of the pain areas. Great efforts were taken not to just provide a solution, but a service that generates customer delight.” One of the reasons why the initiative has been such a success is that not many changes were made in the way a company interacts with the ministry. Digital signatures authenticates all modes of payment from cheques to net-banking. Companies' authorized personnel can access all services of the ministry. All new information from the MCA is available online on the website. A lot of emphasis was put on training ministry personnel to ease transition. Chakrabarty says, “While we automated the way the Ministry functions, we were very conscious of not making major changes in the way a citizen interacts with the ministry. It wasn’t as if people were forced to use a brand new system, because the old one they felt comfortable with didn’t exist anymore – people used the new system because it was convenient, quick and efficient. We wanted people to make the choice and feel a “wow” factor normally not associated with Government interactions.”

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