Kerala, honours her e-gov heroes (and heroines)

04th November 2010
Kerala, honours her e-gov heroes (and heroines)
A mother collects the birth certificate of her new born child from a Sevana kiok even as she goes home from the hospital.... one of Kerala's people-friendly e-gov initiatives

The Kerala government plans to extend e-goverance in all departments and state-run- agencies to make the administration more transparent and corruption free, Kerala Minister for Law M Vijayakumar has  said according to a PTI report from state capotal  Thiruvananthapuram on Nov 4. "The role of IT and e-governance in the administration affairs has increased many folds. To yield a better result, it will be implemented in all departments in a time bound," he said here inaugurating the e-Governance Award ceremony 2010 organised by Kerala State IT Mission and Institute of Management in Government (IMJ). He said Kerala had launched various IT initiatives including the IT Park, for the first time in the country.
State Chief Secretary P Prabhakaran, former Ambassador T P Srinivasan, IT Secretary Ajay Kumar, , IMJ Director T K Manoj Kumar and Jury member and Online India Tech Pvt Ltd Managing Director Anand Parthasarathy also participated.Vijayakumar also distributed awards in various categories including M-Governance, e-learning, e-payment services, citizen services and websites.

While, Kozhikode District Collectorate bagged the top award in the category of 'M-Governance' for their innovative citizen service 'Swamibhan', the General Education Department got the recognition in the 'Local Language content' category for their Malayalam Wiki project of IT@School. Commercial Taxes Department, Kerala Public Service Commission and the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation also bagged awards in the categories of E-payment services, Citizen's Services and Websites respectively. (PTI report,ourced from Manorama Online) .

Kerala: key achievements in e-governance. IndiaTechOnline brings you this privileged report on the best e-governance solution crafted in India's most literate,best connected state .

Kerala has been a leader among Indian states in harnessing Information Technology to reach the citizen with a full slate of services. Many of these solutions have been developed in-house by the concerned departments, with little outside professional help -- and all of them are consistent with the state’s declared policy of adopting free and open software systems. The annual Kerala State e-governance Awards are an opportunity to recognize and honour these e-governance initiatives.
Some outstanding examples of how Kerala does IT.

“Sevana” the application for Civil Registration – of births, deaths and marriages --of developed by Information Kerala Mission (IKM) has been deployed with great success, across local government bodies in the state. Such registration is mandatory – and Kerala has a consistent record of more than 90 percent registration of births and deaths. Kiosks have been set up in the lobbies of hundreds of hospitals for easy reporting of births and deaths. In the case of births, certificates are issued before the mother is discharged from the hospital). All five municipal Corporations in Kerala; all 53 municipalities, the only cantonment in the state ( in Kannur) and all 999 gram panchayats have deployed the Sevana application Kiosks have been installed in 301 hospitals in Kerala, 240 of them being private institutions.

Swabhiman, is a new IT enabled service initiative for the people of Kozhikode. It covers most common service needs: plumbing, carpentry, coconut tree climbing, Refrigeration & air conditioner repair, TV & electronics, electrical wiring/ repairing and gas stove repairing. Kozhikode residents can call a phone number; send an SMS or place a request on the website to get the service within one hour. A BSNL landline number (0495-2372666); a 24 hour automated SMS receiving system (94464 60600) and a user-friendly website ( ) have been provided. The request is immediately registered and an acknowledgement is sent to the customer’s number with the details of the registration.All these services are provided at a nominal cost of Rs.100 and a transport fee of Rs. 50 per house visit.

The year 2009 has been marked a proud one for the Commercial Taxes Department of the Kerala Government: In January that year, the state became the first in India to implement mandatory e-filing of VAT Returns by all registered dealers. Exactly nine months later on September 1 2009, the state claimed the distinction of being the first to introduce mandatory e-payment by all dealers registered with a TIN number. By December 1 that year, this was extended to registered dealers under the KGST Act.

Mahatma Gandhi University, based in Kottayam, has created a free and open online archive of every doctoral thesis it has awarded – from 1983 to the present -- a significant academic archive in four languages that exceeds 300,000 pages. To Mahatma Gandhi University goes the credit for creating the first Open Access PhD Theses archive of any Indian University on the World Wide Web.

The largest, database in the web in any Indian language searchable in the own script of the language? Malayala Grandha Vivaram’ which makes available bibliographic information on all Malayalam books published in Kerala and elsewhere from the first printed Malayalam book of 1772 to the present, lays claim to this distinction.

Malayala Grandha Vivaram comprises of a website (  ) and a desktop application. The application allows searching of bibliographic database in the Web using Malayalam script based on author names, book titles or DDC classifications. It is Unicode compliant; is launched under Creative Commons Attribution License and is freely accessible for public use. The project covers 52000 books printed in Malayalam script from 1771 to 2000.The data entry for 2001 2010 is presently undergoing and will become up-to-date for daily updating by 31st December of the year.

It may look like a mundane task; but conducting entrance examinations for 13 different, professional degree courses, where options exercised, exceed 300,000, is a logistic challenge best addressed by Information Technology… which is what Kerala’s Commissioner for Entrance Examinations has done. The office of the Commissioner for Entrance Examinations Conducts the following 13 different Entrance Examinations every year: Engineering Agriculture Medical Degree Courses;LLB (3 year and 5 year); B. Pharm Lateral Entry; M. Pharm; LLM; MCA; PG Allopathy, Homoeo, Ayurveda, Dental, Nursing and Medical Courses and PG Medical Super Specialty Courses. Centralized Allotment Process for Professional Courses, CEE, KERALA, the software framed with the technical support of NIC, Kerala, was created for the purpose of conducting counselling for the allotment of seats to professional degree courses in Kerala by receiving on-line options from the candidates.

Since 2008, the Higher Secondary Education Department of the Kerala government has put in place a Single Window, Centralized Allotment process for seats in higher secondary classes in 1261 schools( 740 government and 521 aided), helping to place 414,000 student-applicant. This has virtually eliminated malpractices and ensured that over 98% of the seats are filled – doing full justice to quotas for scheduled castes and tribes as well as for differently-abled students.
The system has been enabled by a software solution for online and offline candidate registration and allotment developed by the Kerala unit of National Informatics Centre with implementation support by the IT@School organisation.

By any national measure, the Kerala Public Service Commission is an awesome operation. Arguably the largest recruitment agency in India, it processes about 4 million applications per year for recruitment to various posts in the service of the state and its organizations. The online services of Kerala Public Service Commission includes the KPSC Website; Online application; Online admission ticket; e-version of answer scripts and publication of examination marks. The Official website, has a tremendous hit record. Over four crore ( 40 million) per month on average.

The number of posts notified, are expected to cross 400 this year. Many posts attract huge responses: an assistant salesman in the Civil Supplies Corporation attracted 3,82,000 applicants in 2010;

The IT@School Project of the Kerala Government’s General Education Department, has created a customized version of ‘Wiki’ for schools. The portal named provides a comprehensive knowledge database of all schools in the state. It includes work of students themselves, derived from group activities as well as various educational contents prepared by the teacher groups.
Prepared completely in Malayalam, Schoolwiki went online on November 1, 2010 and is arguably the first such “Wiki”, for and by, school children in India. Schoolwiki has been prepared using the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wikimedia software which was launched with the goal of facilitating Collaborative content development and its sharing. Wikipedia is the largest and most popular general reference website sought in the internet. Since its inception in 21 December 2002, the Malayalam wikipedia now has over 11,000 features. With ‘Schoolwiki’ becoming a reality, it might yet turn out to be the largest and most comprehensive Malayalam database over the internet.

Kerala’s public transport corporation (KSRTC) has embraced IT and the Internet to create friendlier, more efficient interfaces with her customers. An online booking site; electronic ticket dispensers… and even a Facebook page created by her fans! Complementing the online facilitation, KSRTC has introduced Electronic Ticketing Machines for issue of bus tickets, for all its services replacing the conventional cumbersome method of manual ticketing. KSRTC has been the first among all Indian state transport undertakings to put in place electronic ticket dispensers. ETMs operate for all types of services, viz. City, Ordinary, Fast Passenger, Super Fast and all other upper class services. The ETMs are light weight, having RFID facility with soft touch keys and are very handy and user friendly.
A visit to the KSRTC portal is today both rewarding and interesting for the wealth of information it provides and the facilitation it provides for the hassle-free planning of journeys. Gone are the days when state-run transport systems meant uncomfortable journeys and poor timekeeping. The new image of the KSRTC is symbolised as much by its user-friendly booking system as by its brand new fleet of low floor buses, air conditioned Volvo buses and nee generation carriers funded by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

Sometimes the best way to share information and serve the citizen may not be the most technologically advanced. The challenge is to serve a need in the most cost effective manner. The Information Kiosk has been set up in the office of the Chief Electrical Inspectorate , in Thiruvananthapuram is a shining example of such ‘Appropriate’ technology, created in-house, at a fraction of the cost of comparable commercial systems."Information @ Fingertips” as it is called provides detailed information such as the structure of the department, important telephone numbers, e-mail IDs of Chief Office, district office and Meter Testing and Standards Laboratory. The details of formalities and procedures for obtaining various licenses such as for wireman / supervisor / contractor licenses are also provided in the system.

This is just a flavour of the way Kerala institutions are harnessing the Web and the computer to empower her citizens. It is exciting work – and a work in progress.

E Governance Award citations:
First Prize : Kozhikode Collectorate for harnessing the mobile phone to reach citizens through its innovative citizen service “Swabhiman”.
Local Language content
First Prize: The General Education Department for the Malayalam Wiki project of IT@School.
Second Prize: The Centre for South Indian Studies for contributions to nurturing and developing bibliographic studies in the Malayalam language.
E-learning First Prize: Mahatma Gandhi University for its initiative in creating a digital data base of all its thesis holdings
E-payment services
First Prize: Commercial Taxes Department for continuing innovation in enabling the payment of VAT and KGST taxes online.
Citizen services First Prize jointly to The Kerala Public Service Commission for Web-enabling all key operations connected with public recruitment in Kerala.
and to Information Kerala Mission for innovations leading to state-wide online registration of Births, marriages and death through the Sevana service. 51
Second Prize jointly to
The Commissioner for Entrance Examinations for efficiently e-enabling the selection process for 120 engineering and 50 medical colleges across the state.
and to Directorate of Higher Secondary Education for creating a single admission window for over 1400 higher secondary schools in the state.
Third Prize to The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation for its online ticket booking system
WEBSITES: First Prize to the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation ( ) for creating a total marketing web portal including online reservation for all its properties (designed and maintained by Invis Multimedia)
Second Prize to District Collectorate Alappuzha, (  ) for an innovative use of text, graphics, audio and animation in a dedicated website for the Nehru Trophy Boat Races ( designed and maintained by Alappuzha Centre of the National Informatics Centre )
Third Prize jointly to Suchitwa Mission (  ) for innovative use of web technologies to promote sanitation and waste management ( designed and maintained by C-DIT) and to Institute of Human Resources Development (  ) for creating a useful and functionally efficient portal covering over 80 engineering and technical institutions in the state ( designed and maintained by IT department of IHRD)
Special Jury Award :The Electrical Inspectorate Department for the in-house development and maintenance of cost-effective touch screen information kiosks.
Nov 4 2010