The state Cabinet has gone digital, so said a government statement issued on Thursday. This means the Cabinet meetings will be paperless, and in fact it was paperless and digital yesterday, as pointed out by the statement. The e-Cabinet is part of a larger policy, the Digital India, which is a central programme on the quest for a knowledge-based future with the focus on creating a participative, transparent and responsive government. With just a few more months left before Assembly elections are held and a new government comes to power in the state, it is doubtful as to whether Okram Ibobi and his ministers would be able to reap the benefits of a digital Cabinet and indulge themselves in digital discussions on state issues as frequently as they should. Nevertheless, we have to give credit where it is due and acknowledge the e-cabinet is certainly a welcomed initiative towards digital transformation of the government or the digital India programme. The e-Cabinet is a welcomed effort for it heralds the arrival of a new modern era of e-governance where the traditional offices are transformed into new-age paperless offices. The e-governance would eliminate the use of paper on a large scale by converting the paper works into digital form. Thursday’s official statement said Cabinet meetings traditionally require about 20 sets of cabinet memoranda which will have a number of annexures, with each cabinet memorandum, on the average consisting of 15-20 pages which multiply to about 400 pages of printed material during every cabinet meeting.
But, as someone pointed out rather articulately, an inefficiently delivered policy/ scheme is worse than no policy at all. This makes it all the more important for Ibobi and Co, as short as their remaining term may be, to ensure the initiative is implemented successfully and efficiently. Now, to deliver and implement a policy effectively, there must be a structured approach to be followed, which we are certain the government, by all means, is far more familiar with than us. Nevertheless, a little reminder could never do harm. And this should go without saying that successful implementation of e-governance and the e-Cabinet would hugely depend on high-speed internet infrastructure and IT literacy. During the launch of the e-Cabinet on Thursday, the chief minister and his Cabinet were provided iPads. It is also given that the efficient conduct of e-cabinet requires all involved especially our policy makers to be media and tech savvy. A brief programme to help all stakeholders receive the basic technology skills including the use of iPads to help them navigate through the digital world could well do the trick for starters.
So far so good and for once the government has outdone itself. However, whether the act lives up to the expectation and aspiration of both the public and the government remains to be seen.
Leader Writer: Wangkheimayum Bhupendra Singh
Source: Imphal Free Press