Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bringing J&K into 21st Century

Raies makes a suggestion and the University of Kashmir follows up on its own (two related stories)

(Mr. Raies Altaf Bodha, 25, was born in Doru-Shahabad located in the Anantnag District. He attended the Sir Syed Memorial Educational Institute in Doru and received his B.Sc. degree from the Government Degree College, Bemina-Srinagar. He completed his Master's degree in Science Communication from the Centre of Science Communication, Ahilya University, Indore, Madya Pradesh.)

E-governance and our State

E-governance can be defined as "a government structure which is efficient and effective and is duly controlled by citizens". On the other hand, e-government also means "exploiting the power of information and communications technology to help transform the accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of public services. E-government also relates to the relationship between citizens and those in power.

E-governance or electronic governance may be defined as delivery of government services and information to the public using electronic means. Such means of delivering information is often referred to as information technology or 'IT' in short forms. Use of IT in government facilitates an efficient, speedy and transparent process for disseminating information to the public and other agencies, and for performing government administration activities.

To increase accountability, empowerment and to achieve citizen participation, the use of e-government is vital. E-governance tools can "be used to sustain the important elements of accountability that a liberal democratic order requires". Within the same context, e-governance aims to promote policy making.

World economies have recognized Information Technology as an effective tool in catalyzing the economic activity in efficient governance and in developing human resource. They have made significant investments in it and successfully integrated it with the development process, thereby reaping the benefits to their society. In India also, these developments have impacted the industrial, education, service and Government sectors and their influence on various applications is increasingly being felt.

The topic of e-government and e-governance has become increasingly acknowledged over the last few years, and many governments desire for online services. In this era of digital economy, the need for e-governance is inevitable in order to: effectively participate in the rapidly evolving globally networked society, propel forward to a new position of strength in the world economy, building strong and effective information chain, fast and convenient service to citizens, effective utilization of resources, integration of communities, reduction in delays, red tape and corruption.
The Government of India has enacted IT Act 2000, which provides legal status to the information and transactions carried on the net. Almost all the State Governments have also taken various innovative steps to promote e-Governance and have drawn up a roadmap for IT implementation and delivery of services to the citizens online. As far as state of J&K concerned, till now there has not been much progress in this direction except in making few websites. Even the official website of J&K lacks interactivity and complete information. The state of Jammu & Kashmir is nowhere in the list of e-governed states of India.

While in most of the states almost every department/Govt. agency providing web based services to it’s citizens like department of agriculture, environment, forest, education, horticulture, transport, finance, health, food and supply, power development department, housing board, revenue department etc. In J&K we don’t have even a single department among these which has full-fledged web based and online services.

It is also true that, to have an effective e-governance system, knowledge of internet and information technology (IT) is must. So the challenge of having an efficient e-government is triple. One, providing easy internet access even in remote areas; second, empowering common people with the basic knowledge of internet and related IT services and thirdly initiating web based and online services in every department and ministry.

In a recent press conference chief minister Omar Abdullah hinted at e-governance in J&K and if the government is really very serious in making public services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realize the basic needs of common people, it has to devise it’s own comprehensive, holistic and region specific policy for the implementation of e-governance programme in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

KU to introduce e-governance

Srinagar: Kashmir University Vice Chancellor Riyaz Punjabi Saturday said varsity students will now follow online procedure for filling admissions forms and retrieval of results and issuance of marks sheets as the university would soon introduce e-governance on the campus and its affiliated colleges.

Chairing the first meeting of the Project Review and Steering Group aimed to execute e-governance in Kashmir University's Examination System, Punjabi said KU will soon have e-governance.

Talking about benefits of e-governance Punjabi said there was need to sensitize policymakers about e-governance.

"There is need to sensitize planners and policymakers about the relevance applicability and importance of e-governance," he said. “With e-governance time management will be effective, administrative procedures will be put on fast track, and their will be greater coordination between various department of the university and affiliated colleges.”

Earlier, Director Information Technology KU, Mehraj-ud-Din Dar made a PowerPoint presentation before the members asserting that at the outset e-governance project Phase-I will start for examination system and some 30 affiliated colleges of the varsity will be linked with the system besides all KU departments and centres.

KU Registrar Syed Fayaz, Chief Executive Officer J&K Bank Haseeb Drabu and Joint Secretary Ministry of Communication and Information Technology Shankar Aggarwal also spoke on the occasion.

Project Review and Steering Group is an apex body for supervising the execution of the Project.

Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Department of Information Technology, Government of India has approved the proposed project ‘e-support for Examination System, University of Kashmir’ at a total estimated outlay of Rs 443.04 lac to be completed over a period of two years.

Deputy Financial Advisor MC&IT J K Tayagi; Principal Consultant PMU MC&IT Deepak Singla and Assistant Secretary to Government IT Department Civil Secretariat Jammu Muhammad Yousuf Dar also attended the meeting.

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