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Can the New Boss Moni Save the Sick NIC?

By Rakesh Raman

Rakesh Raman

Rakesh Raman

Tech’s chattering classes whispered and government corridors went abuzz with excitement when the Indian government took a decisive step early this month to revive the ailing National Informatics Centre (NIC), a colossal organization responsible to introduce technology in government departments.

M. Moni, who was working as a deputy director general in NIC, was promoted as the director general (DG) with a view to bring some respectability to the tech implementation agency, which has almost gone defunct. And he has been given just one month to clear the mess that has piled up during the past four decades. Government has given the DG’s post to Moni for just one month, expiring on May 31.

How will he do and what will he do in this one month? Set up in the year 1976 to make India a tech-driven country, NIC was supposed to introduce computerization in government departments. But despite its mammoth size and after wasting huge public money, NIC kept buying and distributing computers while computerization has always been missing.

It was a totally flawed concept right from the beginning because Indian government departments are “owned” by the gangs of shady politicians and naive bureaucrats who run these departments as their personal property. Why would they share any control with NIC-supplied computers? They won’t; and they didn’t.

As a result, NIC kept squandering public money worth billions of dollars in the name of e-governance projects, but the poor Indian citizens have yet to see any governance, let alone e-governance. Even a layperson can see NIC’s shoddy work that it has done in the Indian government departments.

For example, when the world has moved to advanced technologies like Responsive Web Design (RWD) and the next-generation Collaborative Web, most government websites (even NIC’s own website) are using static web techniques that emerged and went obsolete in the 1990s. There are hardly any e-governance or citizen services being delivered through these sites, which don’t even get updated.

NIC’s thousands of employees who are like digital parasites could never stay up-to-date with their skills in the fast-moving tech arena and today they look like some primitives from the Stone Age trying to survive in the Digital Age. They lack communication skills, they lack presentation skills, and, strangely, they lack tech skills.

Can Moni, the new DG, make such a white elephant dance? It’s believed that Moni has been made NIC’s DG because of his small demonstrable feats for technology introduction in India’s agriculture sector including the management of online AGMARKNET, a web-driven network for farmers. Such projects are like a figure among ciphers for NIC.

Since technology introduction for the masses or online citizen services is among the most important objectives of NIC, observers believe that Moni will be able to emulate the tech models that he used for agriculture informatics for other areas of operations in NIC.

Perhaps, government would have considered Moni’s Dalit (lower-caste untouchables) social status also while appointing him as the DG, as Indian government is believed to be working for the upliftment of Dalits, though all human beings are supposed to be equal in an egalitarian society.

Now, if Moni is given a free hand and a long leg in NIC, he has a challenging task ahead. He will have to work for the total transformation of NIC – including augmentation of tech infrastructure, upgradation of workforce skills, process creation for delivering citizen services, and so on.

More importantly, he will have to make NIC an accountable organization because it is consuming large amounts of public money. Can he do that? Time will tell.

By Rakesh Raman, the managing editor of RMN Digital.

You can also read: More Articles by the RMN Editor, Rakesh Raman

9 comments on “Can the New Boss Moni Save the Sick NIC?

  1. I don’t know how did you make the inferences in the article. It is only possible to write things like this if the author is having a very pseudo-technological knowledge. The author mentioned only one project as AGMARKNET. He didn’t hear the name MGNREGA, VAHAN etc etc and so on. The impact of NIC could be felt if the author travelled randomly to some district collectorate, State secretariat, principal line departments. One or two points raised are acceptable, but rest are baseless. The texts like “NIC kept squandering public money worth billions of dollars in the name of e-governance ” are utter non-sense. One can not make estimate, how many billions of dollars public money NIC saved by implementing eGov project themselves. If those works were done by the Pvt sector IT premier org, this country could not afford to eGov further.

  2. Mahendra on said:

    100% correct

  3. Kundan Kumar on said:

    There is a old proverb in Hindi “Adhjal Gagri Chhalkat Jaye”. That is – “A miss by an inch is a miss by a mile”. Your article reflects the same. The only bitter truth of the article is – “Indian government departments are “owned” by the gangs of shady politicians and naive bureaucrats who run these departments as their personal property. Why would they share any control with NIC-supplied computers? They won’t; and they didn’t.”
    NIC’s achievement is not just “AGMARKNET”, a long list is there. And as far the problem within NIC concerns, just give me a name of single department or organization that remains untouched with such issues.

  4. Kiran KK on said:

    “NIC’s thousands of employees who are like digital parasites could never stay up-to-date with their skills in the fast-moving tech arena and today they look like some primitives from the Stone Age trying to survive in the Digital Age. They lack communication skills, they lack presentation skills, and, strangely, they lack tech skills.”
    ??????????????????????????? and you lack common sense!!

    Hey buddy, have you seen all nic employees, huh? :)
    Here talented people are there, BUT we(I’m NICian) have no freedom to use all our skills. We are forced to work with-in limits of some stupid officers(from both NIC and Other Govt. dept officers) :)
    When we ask for data/requirements/some other info, people from departments, they never respond.
    No freedom of innovation and creativity. You want RWD?? ha ha :)
    Some people here know all advanced technologies more than whom you compared with :) But who is there to use??
    Don’t compare private and Govt. In Govt., honest and talented people have no freedom to show their creativity.
    Its fault with Govt. not with NIC :) okay?
    I hope, you understood something..

    and finally, “think before you type” and “If you are not sure, don’t guess(‘Ex-quoted text from ur article above’), wrong guesses are COSTLY! :) :)

  5. Latha on said:

    Artical clearly shows that author doesnt know anything about work culture of NIC and ICT contribution to the nation. So many Killer applications of NIC ruling in Government Deportment. If applications are not utilized properly, it is not mean that NIC is not developing eGovernance projects. It is responsibility of Users and its depend on the bureaucrats who will rule that department for just one or two years.

  6. Puty on said:

    Very True and Realistic Article

  7. Dr P N on said:

    Running a govt dept efficiently in india is not easy due to interference of politicians and whims of bureaucrats. Similarly in NIC, engineeers don’t have any say – they have to obey order which bureaucrats feel OK. Most of the NIC engineers have been sent to serve the service of bureaucrats who are working as per their requirements viz. typing letter, cleaning PAN drive, running power point presentatiosn etc for which NIC authoristy has no control to prevent. It is true that NIC big bosses are totally helpless to streamline this organisation and improve the scientific & research . They are mostly useed to serve bureaucrats. 600 plus NIC centres working at districts and another few hundreds in dept, ministries are doing junks – no scientific output except pleasing bureaucrats.

  8. Pardeep Kaushal on said:

    Dear Mr. Author of this article,

    You seem to be writing lot of articles. You also write some good english sentences with correct grammer.
    But Dear, your article lacks research. You seem to be inspired by corporate sector or this i will not be surprised if it is a privately funded article.

    Before writing such an article, you should visit NIC State centres, District centres and interview some of the NICians and try to see under what circumstances they are working and what they are really contributing to the Nation.

    Whole article is bad taste.

  9. Avinash on said:

    Mr. Rakesh Raman,

    I can say one thing…. FCUK your ass whole :D

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