Digital India: Part 1

At the IMC event last week, I did not get much time to speak since the programme was running behind schedule and I had a deadline due to which I had to leave early. Had I got the opportunity to speak more, this is what I would have liked to talk.

Technology and Government: Fast-tracking Democracy

IT Infrastructure to redefine Citizen-State Relationship

Creating “Digital India” is about using Information Technology to:

  • Disseminate information
  • Deliver services more effectively to citizens in the State
  • Encourage feedback from citizens and provide a channel for them to talk back

Information Technology enables transformation at various levels:

  • Governance made “user friendly” and transparent
  • Involve citizens in working synergistically with the government
  • Make citizens active stakeholders in the development of the state

To be continued.

5 thoughts on “Digital India: Part 1

  1. Digital India is quite some time away Rajesh -for example, did you ever think about this statistic this particular way ? India’s Total Online Ad Market Equals Facebook’s 3 Weeks Revenue.

  2. Hello Rajesh.
    “Digital India” is a great idea. It will empower people and influence government to become better.

    It won’t happen on its own. There is a meme that infects some who work in government which makes them think that they “own” the part of the government that they work on. Once it takes hold, they use “their property” for personal gain. At this point they are corrupted, and they expect money or special treatment from the people they are supposed to be providing services for.

    These people will resist allowing public access to “their property” because it will diminish their personal power. If the public can see what they are doing, unfair treatment, favors, even bribery may become visible.

    There are similar attitudes n many places. Even if no bribes are payed, the quid-pro-quo exchanges are still there, and the common citizens are no longer being served by their government, they are being extorted by it. No government is immune from this process of slow, steady degeneration.

    Openness will have to have forced onto corrupt or power hungry bureaucrats and they will fight it as much as they can. They will try to pass laws
    to prevent it, claim the information has to be kept secure from terrorists, or destroy it so it can’t be published or made available. This attitude will be the most significant barrier the open-digital government will face.

    A second barrier is the prevalence of Microsoft(MS), computer systems used in government. Their built in design characteristics are driven by Microsoft’s business strategy. MS’s basic strategy is to to “lock in” its customers so they can’t move their data to other tools or systems. The benefit to MS is that their customers must buy more MS products/licenses to make the data more publically accessible. This is the opposite of the Linux (GNU
    /Linux) platform where most of the tools are deliberately designed to facilitate reading in and, passing on, any and all data streams. The licenses are lower cost as well and are often free.

    Another barrier created by MS is security. Windows System administrators claim that Windows systems can be kept secure “if you know what you are doing” and keep up on your system updates. This claim is is simply and clearly false. Even if we assume there are large numbers of well-trained and disciplined Windows System Administration professionals, Windows systems *cannot* be protected from “Zero Day” (ZD), attacks[2]. A Zero-Day attack is not a specific attack tool. It refers to the time gap between the time a new attack is unleashed on the Internet and the time the security programs get updated with a counter for the new attack.

    During this time period Almost Every windows system on the Interet can be taken over.[1] None of the Anti-virus or system protection tools will be able to detect or prevent that attack until the security tool companies can get a copy of the attack program and counter it. Even after that happens, Windows systems will still be vulnerable until the security companies incorporate the new tool into their existing security system and push it into their update system, and the local system mangers run the update for the security program. That delay can last a few hours or years.

    Until the systems get the new protection, they are not only vulnerable to the attack, the infecting software can take over the system so completely that even the new tools may not be able to detect the infection, but can be fooled into thinking the system is secure and take no action. These systems may remain infected for the rest of their service life.

    The possible path is clear. It will be an uphill battle but better government, and possibly safer computing are at the end.

    [1] Some attacks will only work on specific versions of the Windows OS, so an XP system may be immune to an attack that can infect a Vista system. Thi
    s relationship can be permuted across the different Windows Versions. Firewalls, IDS, etc can all help with this.
    [2] The time period that a system is vulnerable to a ZD attack applies to any and all Operating Systems. For various technical reasons, there are relatively only a few attacks targeting non-Windows systems. The number of Windows specific attacks on the internet typically exceeds attacks on all other OS specific attacks by orders of magnitude.

  3. in the comment above the word “payed’ should appear as “paid”.

    I rushed through this posting using a clumsy combination of Dragon’s “Naturally Speaking” Speech Recognition software, some local tools (which affected the formatting) and editing by hand. As a result I never got to proof read it. I apologize for foisting it on the readers.

  4. Every level of government should know and publish their assets, liabilities, and networth on their websites. They should publish on their websites annual revenue and expenses and the corresponding sources and sinks. Assets should include not only cash but also other material and non-material resources. These later categories will cover mineral exploration opportunities, communication spectra, business locations, and other licenses, permits, and sanctions.