CIO News interviews Shri Wangki Lowang, Minister (IT) of Arunachal Pradesh

Shri Wangki Lowang, Minister (IT) of Arunachal Pradesh
CIO News interviews Shri Wangki Lowang, Minister (IT) of Arunachal Pradesh

Hello, welcome to CIO News and on our series ‘Voice of IT Ministries of India’ where we write about Business Strategy and boardroom issues for technology leaders

This is an exclusive interview conducted ” by Khushbu Soni Chief Editor at CIO News with Shri. Wangki Lowang, the honourable Minister, Information Technology of Arunachal Pradesh.

Shri Wangki Lowang is a Member of the Legislative Assembly representing 54-Namsang Assembly Constituency in Tirap District of Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly since 1999. By political affiliation, he’s from Bharatiya Janata Party, and apart from IT Ministry, he also holds Public Health Engineering & Water Supply and DoTCL Department. His dedication and works for the people have endeared him in the public’s mind and has won five consecutive Assembly elections till date. Recently also he visited the far flung areas of Arunachal Pradesh located along the Indo-China Border and inaugurated new office buildings for the water supply department in Mechuka Division and also in Anjaw District near Walong-Kibithoo Indo-China Border. He also inaugurated water treatment plants in the interior villages like Singbir, Thargelling, Kemrong, Bumjipanga, Sokarpu, Dechentang west, Nangso, Manegang and Galling.

We at CIO News welcome him and are very grateful to him as he has given us his precious time from his busy schedule for this interview.

Q1. As the Minister of IT for the state of Arunachal Pradesh, what is your vision to use information technology in your state?

Answer by: Shri Wangki Lowang (Minister, IT, etc):– Arunachal Pradesh being a late starter, there are lots of challenges due to geographical isolation and lack of other logistical infrastructures. But information technology (IT) can help address many of those challenges. The Government of Arunachal Pradesh under the visionary leadership of young Chief Minister, Shri Pema Khandu is poised to harness the power of Information Technology to achieve excellence in governance, leadership in social and economic development and to empower every citizen enabling them to participate in the development process with enhanced capacity.

IT is now also being used to bridge the last mile connectivity by bringing citizen services to their doorsteps. Last-mile connectivity is a problem that can impact productivity, customer service, and the user experience. But, IT solutions eliminate the headaches associated with provisioning and managing services. They maintain interconnectivity agreements with carriers around the world and provide expert 24x7x365 support.

So, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh is aggressively on the job of exploring the latest technologies in the field of IT for improving the future of its citizens.

Q2. How is IT being used in the day-to-day administration in the Government of the State?

Answer by: Shri Wangki Lowang (Minister, IT, etc):– Three Departments namely PERSONNEL, ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS, and IT & COMMUNICATION come under e-Office. Several training programs have been initiated by DIT to train the Officers concerned for on-boarding of their department in e-Office to achieve a paperless, transparent, efficient workspace. Also, the training program was conducted for Ministers, MLAs along with their PS and for all Commissioners/Secretaries of Government of Arunachal Pradesh.

With the introduction of e-office, many loopholes and delays etc have been successfully nipped. For instance, delayed holding of files by any individual officer can be identified as there will be transparency in the system.

Arunachal Pradesh is the first state in the northeast to implement e-cabinet solutions for the state cabinet meetings. Information System of Government Sessions, better known as e-Cabinet, is a powerful tool that can be used to streamline its decision-making process. It lets Ministers prepare for cabinet meetings, conduct them and review minutes, entirely without paper. At its core, the system is a multi-user database and scheduler that keeps relevant information organized and updated in real-time, giving Ministers a clear overview of each item under discussion. Well before the weekly cabinet session begins, the ministers access the system to review each agenda item and determine one’s own position.

The primary interaction of the citizens with the government is for obtaining various services. National Governance Plan (NeGP) was envisioned with the ultimate objective of bringing public services closer to the homes of citizens. In an attempt to fulfill this vision, the State Government has implemented the ServicePlus platform of NIC to provide services to citizens. ServicePlus is a single, unified, metadata-based portal to citizens and governments alike where any service can be defined, accessed, delivered, and monitored.

Now, 21 e-services like driving licenses have been moved to a digital platform, where citizens can apply digitally and the services are delivered digitally.

The digital revolution in the State is reducing corruption and bringing in transparency. We are in the process of implementing an integrated financial management system, wherein all our treasuries will be connected online and bills will be processed online, and disable the leakage spaces. We have recently implemented e-Abkari in our tax & excise and Narcotics department. This online e-Abkari portal is the State Government’s reform initiative leveraging state-of-the-art modern technology to carry out various activities of the excise wing through e-Abkari, which will facilitate seamless online communication among all excise officials across the state, all licensees, administrative departments and other stakeholders. Also, our import permits have become online and all our excise duty has been connected online, disabling the possible leakages in the system.

Q3. How can Arunachal Pradesh become a digitally transformed and secured state?

Answer by: Shri Wangki Lowang (Minister, IT, etc):– The Government of Arunachal Pradesh gives much emphasis to keeping the State digitally secured. The State ensures that all the applications designed and developed in the State, in any platform goes through STQC/CERTIN security audit before its implementation and rollout, apart from measures taken during hosting in server.

Further, the Government of India has also a central team to scan and flag the vulnerability of Government websites or portals, from time to time, to keep us updated and alert of an eventuality of defacements.

Considering the digitally conscious and forward-looking Government and citizens, “I foresee the future of digital transformation with tremendous growth in the State, harnessing latest digital technology can improve the citizen services which eventually will benefit the people in their day to day lives.

The State Government has already begun the journey towards digital transformation through various IT and e-Governance initiatives to realize the dream of Digital Arunachal Pradesh.

Q.4 What is the learning for the State from COVID and how technology has been used to battle COVID and its effect?

Answer by: Shri Wangki Lowang (Minister, IT, etc):–  The Government of Arunachal Pradesh is vaccinating its citizens free of cost and a Maha-Abhiyan was launched at Itanagar to reach out to far-flung areas in digital mode. For instance, the registration system for the covid vaccination has been made online in a simplified way and also in offline mode on the presentation of proper IDs.

Q.5 What are the challenges you are facing in implementing IT solutions?

Answer by: Shri Wangki Lowang (Minister, IT, etc):–  The biggest challenge is the road connectivity in the State. In spite of great potentials in many fields, the state is facing road connectivity problems, and there are many places in the state which are still inaccessible. Therefore the state is deprived of opportunities to reach out to national and international markets.

The State’s per sq. km. tower density is one of the least in the country. The State Government has approached the Government of India (GOI) and the GOI has promised to provide us with 1683 towers shortly for providing 4G mobile connectivity to 1683 remotely located villages in Arunachal Pradesh by 2022.

We are also in the process of implementing the state-wide area network. We have already installed 622 Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) in various locations in the state to bridge the connectivity gap. We are going to install and commission more new 260 VSATs.

VSAT is like a reflector dish that receives satellite signals.

Q.6 How secured the digital assets of the State are?

Answer by: Shri Wangki Lowang (Minister, IT, etc):–  All applications here are STQC passed and we have an independent validation and verification system in place. The GOI monitors and audits the State Government’s website on a regular basis and whatever vulnerabilities are found are reported. These vulnerabilities are addressed in a time-bound manner.

Q.7 What industry potential do you see with regards to IT?

Answer by: Shri Wangki Lowang (Minister, IT etc):–  IT-enabled services (ITES) are the future job creators of Arunachal Pradesh. For example Many people of our state were working in call centres in metropolitan cities like Gurgaon before COVID. But, as the COVID started many of them had to come back to the state and became jobless and there is a hesitancy to go back for work as the COVID is still not over. With the improvement in the domestic IT industry, the companies can open their branches in Arunachal Pradesh, which can generate a lot of employment opportunities for the local youths.

Area-wise, Arunachal Pradesh is the biggest state in the North-East and there is a lot of space for setting up large format data centres. Arunachal Pradesh has the right climate condition and also surplus electricity to support for setting up of such data centres.

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