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June 1, 1999
Vittal calls for Freedom of Information ActCentral Vigilance Commissioner N Vittal has suggested that the Official Secrets Act be supplemented by the Freedom of Information Act in view of the information technology revolution.
He was inaugurating a one-day seminar yesterday in Thiruvananthapuram. The 'IT to people' seminar was organised jointly by the Kerala government's departments of information technology and local administration.
He pointed out that in the process the basic challenge is to make IT work for better governance. He pushed for extensive use of IT in government offices.
This would expedite the processing of papers on file. In this way, the efficiency of the government offices could be enhanced in terms of speed and objectivity and better services could be provided to the citizens, he said.
Vittal believes that Kerala could effectively use IT in education, health and telecommunications, areas where it already is ahead of its peers.
Because of high literacy, the state could easily ensure computer literacy which, in turn, could throw up new job opportunities not only within the country but also from abroad, Vittal hoped.
He elaborated with the example of Kerala's good health system. A good telecommunications network could reach a telephone and an ISDN connection in every primary health centre.
Once this infrastructure is in place, videoconferencing could be held for the medical specialists at district headquarters to treat patients in even remote villages via telemedicine.
It might be worthwhile to use information technology to build databases of Ayurveda treatment and other indigenous forms of medicine and put them on the Internet, he said.
Vittal explained that an incidental advantage in computerisation is the barrier it puts in the way of corruption. In Kerala, corruption is already lower than most other states and people are not just literate but also highly conscious of their rights.
The introduction of the information technology in such a society would be very effective, Vittal said.
He suggested that there be a state-level information infrastructure in Kerala at a minimum cost by synergising the various telecom networks already in place by government and private sector organisations.
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