Saturday, June 16, 2007
Epoch making changes in the offing in India
Bihar, was a notorious state in India, for its bad governance, for decades, is in for a new wave of change, under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Nitish Kumar its gentle yet no nonsense Chief Minister.
Recently under the directive of the Chief Minister, the Minister for Rural Development, Mr. Vaidyanath Mahto, the State Administration headed by Shri. A.K. Chaudhary, IAS, Chief Secretary and Department of Rural Development headed by Mr. Anup Mukherjee, IAS, Principal Secretary, embarked on a plan to root out corruption in its grass root poverty alleviation programme - National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, a centrally sponsored scheme, for generating employment opportunities in rural districts, for creation of assets for sustainable living, to alleviate poverty.
An article in the e-World of a leading daily on the topic "Biometric Tracking Gives Tamper Proof Identity to villagers" by Jaya Menon, featuring Kris Dev, a Management and ICT Consultant, specializing in decentralization and e-Governance, Co-Founder of Life Line to Business (LL2B), Chennai, recipient of the prestigious Manthan Award 2006 instituted by the Digital Empowerment Foundation, a national chapter of the World Summit Award, Austria, in the framework of the United Nation's World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in association with American India Foundation, for creating India's Best e-Content in the category 'e-Inclusion and Livelihood creation', for his pioneering work "Biometric tracking of payments under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act" for the grass root initiatives among poverty stricken and calamity prone in backward tribal hamlets of rural Andhra Pradesh, said "Kris is still waiting with crossed fingers for the first invitation to a village in India for implementing the project".
This article set the ball rolling and Mr. Anup Mukherjee wrote to Mr. Kris Dev as follows: "Just read about your exploits,,,. Very exciting. It says, you are still waiting for the invitation to a village in India for implementing the project. If your solution does all that the article describes, it would be ideal for Bihar where people find ways to beat all systems. In fact we are also thinking of biometric muster rolls for our Rural Employment Guarantee schemes. Would you be ready to start a pilot project in Bihar"?
In the meantime, more articles appeared in leading Indian newspapers and magazines on Biometric Smart Cards for NREGP implementation.
Bihar State Electronics Corporation Ltd., (BSEDC), a Govt. of Bihar Undertaking, invited Life Line to Business (LL2B) to give a demo of the biometric tracking to the officials of Rural Development Department. Based on the satisfactory demo, Life Line to Business (LL2B) was recently asked to conduct a proof of concept for 100 NREGP beneficiaries in a rural block of Bihar, between June 5 and 8, 2007. Kris Dev and Ashwin V.G.of Life Line to business (LL2B), went from Chennai to Patna to do the field work, carrying their laptop, web cam, scanner, biometric device, etc.
The villages identified for the proof of concept was Kurkuri and Dhuparchak Musahari, most under developed, in Gonpura Panchayat, Phulwarisharif Block of Patna district. The proof of concept was done among 170 men and women who are registered beneficiaries and having NREGP Cards with photographs. The registration and verification was done using different optical biometric devices.
The first biometric device used was a Fingkey Hamster computer linked optical finger size biometric device for registering all the ten fingers (twice each finger for getting the best value of minutiae counts) and a photograph of the beneficiary taken and all his personal data such as name, father / mother / husband name, date of birth, address, etc. registered and their NREGP Card with the photograph and details was scanned and attached to their details, for creating a permanent database.
After the registration process was completed, the verification was done immediately, by entering the NREGP ID number and the beneficiary was asked to place any finger on the biometric device. Lo, the individual's photo would instantly pop up from the database on the computer monitor. This gave a high level of confidence to an illiterate labourer, as seeing their own photo popping up on placing any finger, was believing that biometric registration of all ten fingers gave them unique identity.
The photograph would pop up in the computer monitor, every time any finger was placed on the biometric device, by entering their NREGP ID number, when a one to one match of any of the ten fingers takes place. Simultaneously, the attendance was marked as 'in' or 'out' depending on whether it was the first or second entry and a permanent record created in the database, for attendance tracking. The photo popping up on placing a finger and the attendance tracking, and a simultaneous print out of the attendance could also be made available.
For the field work, it was desired that a mobile optical biometric device with its own battery power back up would be more suitable for daily attendance tracking. A stand alone hand held biometric device that can run with rechargeable batteries and store 1,500 finger prints was used for the registration and verification. The device also had the capability to register the NREGP ID and all the ten fingers (each 3 times for getting the best minutiae count).
Registration and verification of finger prints was 100% successful with both the devices. It is also possible to integrate finger print registration with a smart card which can store the finger prints and personal data for use any time any where. If the smart card is linked to the post office or bank account, then the payments can automatically credited into the post office or bank account and the multipurpose smart card used as a biometric debit card for making purchases or for drawing money from ATMs.
The poor citizens can track by themselves the attendance, the work done and the payment received. No one would be able to cheat them, as the smart card and the print outs are permanent records of all transactions.
Bihar would have the unique distinction of becoming the first state in India to introduce biometric tracking for NREGP to root out corruption, empower the poor and alleviate stark poverty.
The citizens of India are now waiting with crossed fingers for Nitish Kumar to show the way, for the transformation of Bihar that could pave the way for empowerment of poor citizens in all sectors such as health, education, noon meal scheme, employment, old age pension, etc.
Let me introduce myself as Dr.Bruno, looking after MIS in Tamil Nadu Health System Project.
We are looking for a solution to automate our office process and our Project Director and Special Secretary Health, Thiru PWC Davidar IAS had mentioned that you had developed a system for SDAT (while he was the Member Secretary there)
I will be much grateful if you can guide us in this process
bruno at tnhsp dot net
I visit your site and read it very carefully.and sure to gain some informative knowledge from your site
I think what you are doing has an amazing potential and should be replicated across the other states also.
Would like to cover your article and the solution on one of the forums that i host www.egovernanceforums.com
Also - there are a few opportunities that are coming up where we can help promote your solution.
amahajan at scg dot in