Wednesday, May 12, 2010

vice president ansari does it


By R Rajagopalan

NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha will go digital in a move set in motion to eliminate huge wastage of paper in the day-to-day functioning of the House.

Yet another brainchild of the 73-year old Chairman M Hamid Ansari stems from his concern over tonnes of paper used. Documents will be supplied in paper format to only those MPs who insist so while those opting for everything in digital format will get special incentives.

Ansari, a retired Indian Foreign Service (IFS) cadre officer, wants Parliament to set an example before the nation to reduce use of the limited available natural resources in whatever possible ways, more so when the modern technologies are accessible to all stakeholders in this digital era. He envisages a drastic cut-down in paper use to save forests.

With that goal in mind, he set up on Tuesday a 9-member committee headed by Rajya Sabha Secretary N.C. Joshi to undertake a comprehensive and scientific study to evolve a suitable mechanism to ensure that usage of paper is minimised to the extent possible. The committee has been tasked to give its report before the start of Parliament's monsoon session in July.

OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE: This is not the first initiative of Ansari to make optimum use of digital technologies to enhance an all-round efficiency. In the winter session of 2009, he started a highly-useful mega digitisation project of making all Rajya Sabha debates accessible on Internet to people across the world.

The unique feature of the project is the use of the open source software for the first time to save huge public exchequer's money spent on the Microsoft and other copyright software. Already part-operationalised and running smoothly, the project will prove to be a treasure house for those keen to understand functioning of the Indian democracy.

The refurbished website of the Rajya Sabha is yet another initiative of the chairman that has already bagged the "Gold Icon" award instituted by the government to promote noteworthy e-governance initiatives in India.

The committee constituted to reduce use of paper in the Rajya Sabha consists of National Informatice Centre (NIC) technical director N S Arneja, Dr Nirmal Kumar Azad, director in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Sanjeev Kumar, director in Department of Administrative Reforms, Ghanshyam Goel, additional director general of Press Information Bureau (PIB) and four Rajya Sabha secretariat officials, namely P Gopalakrishnan, Mrs Vandana Garg, Dr D B Singh and Mukul Pande.

Its recommendations will be placed before the Committee on Providing Computer Equipment to members of the Rajya Sabha for approval and implementation.

TERMS OF REFERENCE: A 9-point charter given to the committee as its terms of reference include compilation of a list of printed documents supplied to MPs by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat and the Union Ministries and to identify the documents whose supply can be dispensed with by making them available digitally and their supply in the printed format to only those MPs making a specific request.

Other terms of reference are:

-- Supply of documents in CD/DVD format;

--  Feasibility of sending the list of business, Parliamentary bulletins and synopsis through e-mail to all Members as soon as they get uploaded on the websites;

-- Mechanism to cut down number of copies required from ministries for laying on the table of the House and for circulation to the MPs in printed, cyclostyled or photocopy format. The committee may inter alia recommend the minimum number of copies that will be required in paper format, and how and where the digital copy of these documents will be made available;

-- Reduction in the number of copies in paper form of both Starred and Unstarred questions for use in the Secretariat and for supply to the Members and Media;

-- Other ways and means to reduce use of paper in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat;

-- A scheme for giving incentives to MPs who opt for supply of Parliamentary papers in digital format only;

-- Any other recommendations concerned with or incidental to reduction in paper use..


1 comment:

ms said...

seeing the age of most of the members of parliament, reams and reams of paper will be used to provide manuals on how to go digital.