We live in the age of the Information Technology (IT) revolution. The universal acceptance of the power of IT to transform and accelerate the development process, especially in developing economies is indisputable. The rapid advance of Communication technologies, especially the Internet, has enabled governments all over the world to reach out to their most remote constituencies to improve the lives of their most underprivileged citizens.
NIC, under the Department of Information Technology of the Government of India, is a premier Science and Technology organization, at the forefront of the active promotion and implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions in the government. NIC has spearheaded the e-Governance drive in the country for the last three decades building a strong foundation for better and more transparent governance and assisting the governments endeavor to reach the unreached.
The mid-1970s, in India, were watershed years, heralding a revolutionary transformation in governance. In the year 1975, the Government of India envisioned that the strategic use of Information Technology (IT) in government would lead to more transparent and efficacious governance which could give a fillip to all-round development. In 1976, in the wake of this recognition of the potency of IT, the Government visualized a project of enduring importance viz. the "National Informatics Centre (NIC)". Subsequently, with the financial assistance of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) amounting to US $4.4 million, NIC was set up.
NIC has leveraged ICT to provide a robust communication backbone and effective support for e-Governance to the Central Government, State Governments, UT Administrations, Districts and other Government bodies. It offers a wide range of ICT services. This includes NICNET, a Nationwide Communication Network with gateway nodes at about 53 departments of the Government of India, 35 State/UT Secretariats and 603 District collectorates to service ICT applications. NICNET has played a pivotal role in decentralized planning, improvement in Government services, wider transparency of national and local Governments and improving their accountability to the people. NIC assists in implementing ICT projects, in close collaboration with Central and State Governments and endeavors to ensure that state-of the-art technology is available to its users in all areas of ICT.
The milestones in NICs ICT based endeavors, over the years, have worked to fulfill the expectations with which it was established, as may be seen below.
- Central Government Informatics Development Programme a strategic decision to overcome Digital Divide in Central Government Departments during the Fifth Plan Period (i.e. 1972-77)
- NICNET - A first of its kind in developing countries, using state-of-the-art VSAT technology. Gateway for Internet/Intranet Access and Resources Sharing in Central Government Ministries and Departments during 1980s and 1990s;
- IT in Social Applications and Public Administration
- State Government Informatics Development Programme a strategic decision to overcome Digital Divide in Central and State Governments/UT Administrations, during the Seventh Plan Period (i.e. 1985-1990)
- DISNIC A NICNET based District Government Informatics Programme a strategic decision in 1985 to overcome the Digital Divide in the District Administrations
- Reaching out into India during 1985-90, even before the arrival of Internet Technology, to all the districts of the country, which is a land of diversity and different types of terrain, various Agro-climatic conditions, different levels of socio-economic conditions, and varied levels of regional development etc.
- Video-Conferencing operations first commenced in the early 90s and now connect 490 locations
- National Informatics Centre Services Inc. (NICSI) was set up in 1995, as a section 25 Company under National Informatics Centre. NICSI is preferred by government departments for outsourcing the entire range of IT solutions and services.
- India Image Portal is a gateway to the Indian government information with a mission to extend comprehensive WWW services to Government Ministries and Departments Under this project, over 5000 Government of India websites are being hosted.
- A significant outcome of India Image Portal, which came about in the early years of the millennium, is the GOI Directory, a first of its kind comprehensive directory providing information about websites of the Indian government at all levels.
- Also, in late 2005, all the services and websites in India Image Portal were brought under one interface to provide single- window access to citizens. This is the National Portal accessible at http://india.gov.in .
- Integrated Network Operations Centre (I-NOC) was established in 2002 for round the clock monitoring of all the WAN links across the country.
- NIC Data Centre, established in 2002, hosts over 5000 websites & portals. Data Centres which have been established at State capitals for their local storage needs, have storage capacity from 2-10 Tera Bytes.
- NIC has been licensed to function as Certifying Authority (CA) in the G2G domain and CA services commenced in 2002.
- NIC set up the Right to Information Portal in order to provide support to the Government for speedy and effective implementation of the Right to Information Act 2005.
- Over the years NIC has extended the satellite based Wide Area Network to more than 3000 nodes and well over 60,000 nodes of Local Area Networks in all the Central Government offices and State Government Secretariats.
As a major step in ushering in e-Governance, NIC implements the following minimum agenda as announced by the Central Government:
- Internet/Intranet Infrastructure (PCs, Office Productivity Tools, Portals on Business of Allocation and Office Procedures)
- IT empowerment of officers/officials through Training
- IT enabled Services including G2G, G2B, G2C, G2E portals
- IT Plans for Sectoral Development
- Business Process Re-engineering
NIC provides a rich and varied range of ICT services delineated below.
Profile of Current Services:
- Digital Archiving and Management
- Digital Library
- Geographical Information System
- IT Training for Government Employees
- Network Services (Internet, Intranet)
- Video Conferencing
- Web Services
- General Informatics Services
- Medical Informatics
- Bibliographic Services
- Intellectual Property and Know-How Informatics Services
- Setting up of Data Centres
- Building Gigabit Backbone
- IT Consultancy Services
- Turnkey IT Solutions
Thus, NIC, a small program started by the external stimulus of an UNDP project, in the early 1970s, became fully functional in 1977 and since then has grown with tremendous momentum to become one of India's major S&T organizations promoting informatics led development. This has helped to usher in the required transformation in government to ably meet the challenges of the new millennium