By Ram Kumar Kaushik
Of all the schemes launched by Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot , Indira Gandhi Smartphone Yojana ( IGSY ) is the most talked about and the most sought after. Apart from having ‘glamour' quotient, the scheme also has its utility in this digital age where smartphone are not only ‘money changers' but also the information gateway.
Right from conceiving to implementation, the idea of free distribution of smartphones to women was challenging as well as fancy. The chief minister Gehlot needed an officer who not only understandtood technology but also finance. For that Akhil Arora , a 1993 batch IAS officer was the perfect fit.
Arora handles finance of the state as additional chief secretary and also heads the Information Technology & Communication. Those who know Arora are well aware that he is the man behind creating IT infrastructure and digital environment in state government. He has seen the evolution of IT department in almost all official capacities – as the commissioner, secretary, principal secretary and now as the additional chief secretary. No other officer ever has played such an illustrious inning in this department.
A go-getter and a known workaholic, Arora has a rare quality of fine tuning bare concepts. He is among few officers in the bureaucracy who are unaffected by the change of guard. When Gehlot came up with the vision of empowering women digitally through smartphone with free internet data, Arora took up the challenge of realising this on ground. He aligned resources of finance and IT departments together to create a synergy.
The challenge was to transfer money directly to beneficiaries through an e-wallet in real time. But Arora with his key team members did it with a well laid foolproof process. However, his race is against time. The government will have to complete this before the code of conduct is enforced. In every likelihood, it has little more than one and a half month to execute the first phase of this scheme.
In this phase, the government has announced to distribute handsets with data to 40 lakh women out of 1.35 crore women enrolled in government's health insurance scheme – Chiranjeevi Yojana . The government will spend Rs 6,800 per woman towards handset and internet data till March 2024. They will be free to buy costlier handset or data plan over and above the fixed money by paying the difference amount on their own.
Team Akhil Arora
Rohit Gupta: A 2006 batch IAS officer, Rohit Gupta has a key role to play as secretary finance (budget). He has been entrusted with the responsibility to transfer Rs 6,800 to the e-wallet of the beneficiary in real time as soon as the phone gets activated. A lot of efforts have been put in to implement this DBT scheme through a real time payment gateway, which is quite challenging looking at the quantum and limited time period.
Anandhi: She has come in the picture quite late as she was away from Rajasthan on deputation to Civil Services training academy in Mussoorie. But ever since she has come back to join as secretary IT & Communication last month, she has been working overnight for its successful implementation. Right from logistics to coordination with all district collectors, she has her hands full. A 2007 batch IAS officer, Anandhi picked up very fast to make things look easier on ground.
Inderjeet Singh: As an IT & Communication commissioner, Inderjeet Singh has a major role in execution of this scheme through officials of DoIT, collectorate and telecom service providers. Like Anandhi, Inderjeet Singh was also away from Rajasthan for pursuing Master's degree from Princeton University. He also joined this department last month only. A 2010 batch IAS officer, Singh is an engineering graduate in electronics and communication. His education must have helped him understand the nuances of this project in a fast track manner.
Ram Kumar Kaushik is a seasoned journalist with over 25 years of experience across mediums. The architect of this news website, he is also a consultant with several media groups. He was formerly the group managing editor of ITV Network (NewsX, India News and The Sunday Guardian) and its digital products.