Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Public Information Infrastructure In India

Sam Pitroda is a name that does not require any introduction. He is the one who was responsible for telecom revolution in India. Now Sam is in the process of bringing another informational revolution.

He intends to make data in the public domain available to around 1.2 billion citizens. To achieve the same he plans to create a public information infrastructure running through kiosks in cities and 2.5 lakh Bharat Nirman e-centres in 6 lakh villages.

With a massive population in India and general lack of political will to achieve an ambitious project like this, he has to cover a long road. The task is really challenging and if accomplished would go a long way in creating an informed citizenry in India.

India’s existing information framework is scattered, with each state establishing its own data centre for automating land records, transport and municipal applications, among others. The proposed initiative plans to host all software applications on a cloud (internet), increasing efficiency and speed as well as slashing costs. However, techno legal experts like Praveen Dalal believe that India is still not ready for cloud computing and software as a service (SASS).

According to Praveen Dalal India has a very weak cyber security and no dedicated privacy law. Even there is no dedicated data protection law in India. The data of end users and governmental agencies is not safe in the absence of these essential regulations that the government of India is willingly not interested in enacting.

There is no doubt about the utility of the proposed project of Sam Pitroda. There is neither a single point for Indian citizens to get information nor there is a consolidation of the efforts of various States. Even duplication of data can be avoided and better results can be produced at a single point, says Praveen Dalal.

It would be a good idea if India formulates a good cyber security policy and effective privacy and data protection laws so that the project by Sam Pitroda can successfully see light of the day, suggests Praveen Dalal.

Sam Pitroda has submitted the blueprint to the PM and a panel comprising high-ranking officials has been established to steer the project. The government will fund this project with an estimated cost of Rs 15,000 crore. The project will provide a platform for sourcing of ideas from citizens, feedback and evaluation of government schemes.