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Cloud critical to e-governance in India

Dinesh Dhiman

The Government of India is expanding e-governance throughout the country and is working on embracing cloud computing for it.

The concept of e-governance is aimed at reducing rampant corruption and

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providing government services to the people living on the margins of the society. E-governance optimizes the use of available resources and infrastructure. This results in faster delivery of services and removes middlemen that tend to take advantage of loopholes in the system to make a quick buck.

Per the latest report by specialist research and analyst company DCD Intelligence, India is one of the leading investors in the data center power sector. This means that the national government is serious about implementing cloud computing.

But there are challenges. Professor Sadagopan, chairman of the core committee meeting at the Center for e-Governance, Karnataka, told the Economic Times last year, "The IT department at center has been talking about setting up cloud computing-based services for a while now but what remains to be seen is how fast these services will be set up. Once established, it'll be big shift from our current PC culture but we also need greater understanding of the data security challenges that could arise out of this."

The Department of Electronics and Information Technology has rolled out an ambitious 18-point agenda regarding the creation of IT solutions for electronic, R&D, cybersecurity and IT policies. The department aims at providing a slew of services by the end of the current year.

This 18-point agenda includes:

  1. National rollout of mobile service delivery gateway
  2. National Information Infrastructure (NII 2.0)
  3. National cloud computing initiative (Phase I)
  4. Setting up of a National e-Governance Academy
  5. Scheme for IT mass literacy
  6. Common man interface
  7. Setting up 10 new Software Technology Parks of India centers
  8. eGov App Store
  9. National cybersecurity policy
  10. Setting up semiconductor wafer fabrication manufacturing facilities
  11. Scheme for financial assistance for setting up electronics and information and communication technology academies in states and union territories for faculty development.
  12. Electronic system design manufacturing
  13. Scheme to advance research in the areas of electronics system design and manufacturing and IT/IT-enabled services

Unique Identification project and the cloud

The Unique Identification project that the Indian government is rolling out should also be mentioned in this discussion about cloud computing. This project gives a unique identity to every citizen and removes any chance of abuse of resources. As part of the project, the government has already collected biometric and demographic information of about 20 million people.

All Indian citizens will receive an ID card that authenticates their identity through biometric checks. Enrollment will include 600 million people, and each person registered will have an estimated 5 megabytes of data. The data center that will hold the information will have 4 terabytes of data coming into it every day during peak enrollment periods, making it about the biggest non-commercial datacenter in the world.

IT services provider MindTree was awarded a software development and maintenance contract to support the complex software that will authenticate every Indian citizen using biometric technology.
 
Anjan Lahiri, president of IT services at MindTree, told Computer Weekly that the project will succeed in India, where the UK failed, because it is about alleviating poverty rather than privacy.