E-governance against all odds

Utpal Sharma in his dual role as special secretary IT of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Principal, Dr BR Ambedkar Institute of Technology is pushing for e-governance initiatives in the UT to make sure that people enjoy technology and its benefits. Edited excerpts from his interview with Shivangi Narayan How do you handle e-governance with such glaring connectiv

“It is the scientists who are asking for regulation and precaution”

What do you think of environmentalist Mark Lynas’ sudden change of heart – from being an anti-GM crusader to a pro-GM crusader? It is a renewed propaganda push to create goodwill around GM crop. This is a product that very large corporations are trying to sell. India is a very particular target because of large scale rejections (of GM crop) in Europe, many pa

“In science, we go by evidence”

Dr Bhargava, what do you think of environmentalist Mark Lynas’ sudden change of heart – from being an anti-GM crusader to a pro-GM crusader? [Read more here] I think it doesn’t change the situation one bit. We have no credentials of him and one sw

“Government efforts are just window dressing for Muslims”

Sajjad Hassan was serving as secretary (planning) in Manipur when he finally took the bold decision to quit the prestigious Indian administrative service (IAS) in 2011. He was happy working with people in Tamenglong district at the beginning of his career, but the secretariat was a different ball game. Before quitting the service, he had taken a sabbatical and completed his PhD in politics from

“An anomic, anarchic, free-floating violence... is looking for targets”

Delhi has been infamous as the rape capital of India as well as the crime capital of India. It is not new to failure of governance either. Yet, a gangrape in December was a trigger point, people were enraged and came out in streets to protest like never before. The crime and the response both call for a deeper understanding beyond headlines. We need to come to terms with whatever is happening d

“Marching orders at 10 pm is not a nice feeling”

Too much honesty, says Kautilya in Arthashastra, is not good; in the forests, straight trees are cut first. Who knows this better than Ashok Khemka, the whistleblower Haryana IAS who cancelled a land deal involving Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and was hastily transferred? In the second week of October, India Against Corruption’s Arvind Kejriwal released to the med

“India is driving transformation at a much larger scale”

Uschi Schreiber is the global government and public sector leader for Ernst & Young and is based in Hong Kong. In this role, she manages EY’s consulting business with governments around the world. She leads teams across mature and emerging markets providing advisory, audit, transactional and taxation services to government and public sector clients. Schreiber spoke to Samir Sachdeva o

“Madhya Pradesh plans to have a separate IT cadre”

Hari Ranjan Rao serves as the Madhya Pradesh information technology secretary and the secretary to the chief minister. A 1994 batch IAS officer, Rao is working on providing adequate manpower for overseeing e-governance in the state. In an interview with Pratap Vikram Singh, he talks about his plans for restructuring IT in the government. What is your vision for a digital Madhya

“We need more food grain but the scenario has improved much”

KV Thomas, minister for consumer affairs, food and public distribution, plans to take forward the national food security bill in the winter session of parliament. He is confident that India can and will implement the right to food. A relentless optimist, he dismisses surveys which paint a bleak picture of India’s food security and insists that conditions are much improved. Excerpts from t

Is Gujarat an enemy nation?

As the UK decided to resume diplomatic relations with him, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi thundered on Thursday, telling an election rally that the whole world is looking up at the state but not the Manmohan Singh goernment. Last year he told us the central government was treating his regime like an enemy nation. We reproduce here that interview.

“Energy is the main constraint for a second green revolution”

The first Norman Borlaug award, instituted by the Rockefeller Foundation in the memory of the Nobel laureate who fathered the green revolution, was given to a young scholar from India. Aditi Mukherji, a social scientist with the International Water Management Institute, New Delhi, was selected from among several candidates for her research on the usage of groundwater resources in West Bengal wh

“Freedom of expression is subject to defamation, contempt of court, to different forms of public interest…”

Google has refused to take down the controversial “Prophet” video (which has sparked extensive violence in the Middle East) from YouTube in the United States, but continues to block it in India. Do you see that as a positive sign? Recent developments have sensitised even the social media networks to the fact that there are issues which need to be addressed,

“It is very bleak for news... there is appalling crisis of vision and alarming poverty of talent”

Star India CEO Uday Shankar is the only one who has straddled news and entertainment genres at the highest levels and hence uniquely positioned to fill in the gaps in our understanding. Sharp, incisive, intellectual, self-incriminating and brazenly bold, Uday gave us a deep dive into the difficult world of news media and what ails it. And why it will continue to ail. Here is the transcri

“Sending SMS alerts is not m-governance”

Established in 2000, Handygo is a leading wireless solution provider of mobile entertainment, mobile governance and value added services (VAS). It offers services in rural education and healthcare. Its solutions are spread across platforms like IVR, SMS and WAP. Pravin Rajpal, CEO, Handygo Technologies Pvt Ltd, spoke to Samir Sachdeva about various initiatives of the company. Edited excerpts:

“Doha Round has to be resolved bit by bit”

Harsha Vardhana Singh is the only Indian among the top brass of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Before his current assignment, this Rhodes Scholar with a PhD in Economics from the University of Oxford held a series of critical positions: secretary-cum-principal advisor with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), consultant with the Bureau of Industrial Costs and Prices, the gover

“Industry is eagerly awaiting passage of microfinance bill”

Some key leaders of the microfinance sector came together in October 2009 to set up Micro Finance Institutions Network (MFIN), a self-regulatory national organisation of the RBI-regulated MFIs. MFIN strives to promote the key objectives of microfinance and establishing guidelines for responsible lending and client protection in this sector. Alok Prasad, CEO of MFIN, is a veteran public

“Rs 20,000 crore can be saved every year if RSBY card is used for PDS”

Anil Swarup is director general, labour welfare, with the ministry of labour and employment. He heads the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), the flagship programme of the ministry. In an interview with Samir Sachdeva, Swarup, an IAS officer (Uttar Pradesh cadre, 1981 batch) speaks about achievements of RSBY and how the use of information technology and smart cards has helped beneficiaries.

“Open source is an opportunity, not a challenge”

Working for over 10 years in various technical and leadership roles with Microsoft India, Mandar Naik currently holds the position of director, platform strategy, with the company. In his this role, Naik has been working on the emerging open source ecosystem on Microsoft’s client, server and cloud platforms. In an exclusive interaction with Samir Sachdeva, Naik talks about Microsoft&rsquo

“Without helpful approach of govt, revival of a PSU is impossible”

When Kallol Dutta took over as chairman cum managing director of the Andrew Yule group, the public sector unit’s accumulated loss was around Rs 432 crore. In the headquarters and at other units run by the group, there was palpable despondency and dejection. Dutta, an engineering graduate from Kharagpur and a quintessential Bengali who loves football more than any other game, made an exemp

“Pirated copies facilitate software addiction”

Richard Matthew Stallman, often called the father of the free and open source movement, is the founder of the Free Software Foundation. He has launched the GNU project, aimed at creating a free Unix-like operating system. He is also the pioneer of the CopyLeft concept and is a social activist campaigning against software patents and copyrights. During his recent visit to India he spoke to Samir

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