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Centre committed to bridging digital divide


GUWAHATI, Dec 5 - The Centre is committed to addressing the country�s digital divide, and a multi-pronged strategy comprising expansion of internet infrastructure, and training and capacity building, is on to take e-governance to the grassroots.

This was observed by Sanjiv Mittal, Joint Secretary, Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, during an interview with The Assam Tribune.

Mittal was in the city in connection with the second project review meeting of the steering group (PRSG) of the North East Capacity Building Project in the city on Friday.

Mittal said that mass penetration of the mobile internet was doing a world of good in enhancing people�s access to information technology-enabled services. �Even illiterate people are now in a position to avail IT-enabled services through their cell phones. This is digital empowerment, which is also helping in transparency in services,� he said. Acknowledging that India still had a long way to reach the desired level of e-readiness and digital literacy compared to developed nations or even China, Mittal said a lot of thrust was now being put on expanding internet infrastructure and capacity building.

On the ongoing implementation of e-governance programmes in the State, Mittal termed those as satisfactory. �Assam was late in entering e-governance but the response of the State Government in implementing the ongoing e-governance programmes has been satisfactory,� he said.

Earlier, addressing the PRSG meeting, Dr Ashwini Kr Sharma, Managing Director, National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT), informed the gathering that the project �Development of NE Region by Enhancing Training/Education Capacity in IECT Area� was approved by the Union Cabinet in May 2012.

�The budget outlay of the project is Rs 388.68 crore. Under the project, permanent campuses of six NIELIT centres and 12 NIELIT Extension centres are to be constructed/upgraded in seven NE States � Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Sikkim,� he said.

K Baruah, Director, NIELIT, Guwahati, said the project would result in enhanced capacity in terms of training/education in the IECT sector for enhancing the employability of NE youth.

�The availability of trained professionals in the IECT area is expected to attract entrepreneurs/industrial houses to set up industries in the region, leading to the overall socio-economic development of the region,� he added.

Director, Department of Electronics & Information Technology, AK Pipal said that the project would benefit the student community/youth, faculty members, entrepreneurs, local industry, government employees, self-employed youth, various sections of the society including Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Other Backward Classes/minorities, school dropouts, persons with disabilities, economically weaker sections, etc. of NE.

About 45,000 students are expected to be enrolled/trained in various long-term/short-term courses in five years under the project.

NIELIT centres are currently operational in 16 locations in NE, out of which 14 centres have been established under the project. The State Govs have provided land at 14 locations, where the permanent campuses of NIELIT centres are going to be built.

Those who attended the meeting included MC Sahu, Commissioner & Secretary, IT Dept, Govt of Assam, Dr RP Bhattacharjee, Registrar, NERIST, Debashish Goswami, SEMT Head, Govt of Arunachal Pradesh, and other dignitaries from the region.

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