Express Digital Governance Series focuses on tech for effective governance

Express Digital Governance Series focuses on tech for effective governance
(L-R) Mohd Ujaley, Principal Correspondent, Express Computer; Captain Abhimanyu Singh, Minister for Finance, Government of Haryana; Dr Nirmaljit Singh Kalsi, Additional Chief Secretary – Home, Government of Punjab; Sanjeev Gupta, Country General Manager – Public Sector, Microsoft India.

With the focus on ‘Technologies for Effective Governance’, the Chandigarh edition of ‘Express Digital Governance Series’, was organized by Express Computer in partnership with technology giant, Microsoft India. Thought leaders, visionaries, policy makers and IT leaders from the state came together to discuss and debate the great potential that India’s two crucial states – Punjab and Haryana offered and how modern day digital transformation can help in improving the existing infrastructure for them.

The conference began with the keynote address from Dr Nirmaljit Singh Kalsi, Additional Chief Secretary – Home, Government of Punjab. He spoke in detail about the impact of emerging technologies on life of people and how in 5 to 8 years, things will completely change. In his speech, Dr Kalsi highlighted how emerging technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence could have a major impact on governance. He was of the view that governments have to re-imagine their role in the light of automation of services, which will happen because of proliferation of emerging technologies.

Dr Kalsi warned that with proliferation of technology, the vector for cyber-attacks will also increase. Hence, companies in both the government and enterprise sector should adequately invest in the capacity building of cyber experts in the country. “This is one area that has become a differentiator and going forward, the criticality will further increase, as people’s reliance on technology goes up. The exposure of personal data will also increase,” he said.

On the shortage of security professionals in government departments, he was of the view that it is time for the government to scale-up its resources to meet the challenges emanating from the digital drive of the government. This could only be addressed if security professionals becomes the part of the government or government gives training to its existing staff.

The chief guest of the programme, Captain Abhimanyu Singh, Minister for Finance, Government of Haryana concurred the possibilities and challenges raised by Dr Kalsi. During his address, Captain Abhimanyu not only focused on emerging technologies but he also emphasized on the reality at the ground level. He agreed with Dr Kalsi that the future is going to be changed by technology intervention. Hence, the governments need to think about the modern way of engaging with citizens. In fact, he quoted Aristotle to emphasize his point that governance is changing and technology is going to change it much faster.

Making reference to the government’s Aadhaar programme, he said that more than billion people have the Aadhaar number and it offers tremendous opportunity to the government to efficiently roll out welfare schemes. He said that the best part of UIDAI is that it has enrolled more than billion people with the speed which has never been done before.

Captain Abhimanyu also highlighted the challenges of connecting the last mile. He said emerging technologies are useless if we are not able to create basic infrastructure to connect people. Sharing the example from his own constituency, which is 100% rural, he said that it is almost impossible for him to hire a MBBS doctor for the area. Even if he is able to get one, within a few weeks, people manage to get a transfer as nobody wants to serve in rural areas. He said with the help of tele-medicine, the challenge of shortage of doctors could be addressed, but even for that, connectivity is needed. He appreciated that government’s national optical fibre network (NOFN) programme but said a lot more needs to be done.

In addition to connectivity challenges, he also reckoned the challenge raised by Dr Kalsi around cyber security. He was of the view that with growing cases of cybercrime, it has become mandatory for government as well as private companies to make cyber security an integral part of their discourse. He said that as the difference between the cyber and physical world is diminishing, government organizations needed to be more vigil about the data and information they have.

He also pointed out that there is huge diversity in India and praised some of the tech companies to incorporate Indian languages but he urged more companies to offer solutions in Indian languages. “India is a country of different languages. A high level of awareness related to technology and cyber security needs to be created. Therefore, solutions should be available in the language that people can understand,” he said.

Giving his thank you note address to the keynote speaker and the chief guest, Sanjeev Gupta, Country General Manager – Public Sector, Microsoft India said that he was impressed with the way both the speakers have thoroughly spoken about emerging technologies, cyber security and challenges in technology. He said, “Both of you have lowered our burden with your impressive speeches.” Gupta also informed the speakers about how Microsoft India is helping different states in their endeavour for digital transformation. He shared few examples from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh – both the states are using Microsoft’s platform for various e-governance related projects.

During his presentation, Gupta talked about some of the work that Microsoft can do in Haryana and Punjab. He asked the delegates from both the states that they can rely on Microsoft India for their digital journey. “We know that that the government recognizes the need of adequate technology and cyber security for ensuring better and secure governance and we are ready to support you,” he said.

Taking the discussion forward on security, the conference also had a fireside chat with Mohd Ujaley, Principal Correspondent, Express Computer and Manish Tiwari, Chief Information Security Officer, Microsoft India. During the discussion, Tiwari spoke about the state of cyber-security in India, the issue of privacy and how Microsoft is helping both the government and the private sector to meet growing challenges. He gave a brief overview of growing cases of cyber vulnerabilities across the globe and emphasized that government organizations needed to be ready to thwart any cyber attacks. He informed that Microsoft invests huge amount in the cyber security vertical to ensure that the best cyber security solutions are made available to businesses and government.

Tiwari emphasized that cloud is one of the most secure platforms and there is growing adoption of cloud in the public sector. He was of the view that gradually not only the young age companies, but large organizations with legacy based systems would also move to cloud, as it offers them better security and cost savings. He said that currently most of the cyber breach cases are being reported from outside India but with the Indian economy growing and people’s parity power increasing, India will also become a target for cyber hackers. Hence, he was of the view that a robust cyber-security framework must be set in place.

On the recent judgement of privacy, he said that Microsoft fully believes in privacy and whatever it does, privacy of customers or users are given paramount importance.

A major attraction at the event was the showcase of Microsoft Surface devices. The Microsoft team was on the spot to give a first-hand experience of the Surface Device to delegates. The team informed the functionalities, features and security aspect of the Surface laptops.

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