Paperless Parliament dream may come true in 16th Lok Sabha

The Economic Times, June 02, 2014

A ‘Paper-less Parliament’ may still be a term or two away, yet NIC officials working towards that goal hope that their efforts this time will have a better hit rate with a highly techsavvy prime minister and a Lok Sabha that counts over half of its members as first-timers.

A slew of measures that NIC has lined up – the National Informatics Centre (NIC) comes under the a Department of Electronics and spearheads all such e-governance initiatives – this year include preloaded tabs for MPs, an online messaging system that will replace ‘paper slips’, live webcast of house sessions, and of course, a detailed training programme for the parliamentarians.

To start with, MPs will be given tablets that come pre-loaded with literature on proceedings of the house. “They will be given these devices when they register at the parliament counter. This time, the tablets will be configured with the day’s agenda, minutes of last session and other papers,” a senior official at the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs told ET.

A senior official at the NIC said that unique mail-ids for the MPs have been configured already and have been kept simple. “This is to make it accessible for people. All mails with the MP’s name will be directed to his/her website. We are now in the process of configuring their tablets with relevant data,” he said.

To help the MPs connect with each other, the NIC is looking at launching messenger services. “Inside the house, there is no wi-fi facility but to help MPs connect with each other in the lobby that has high-speed network, we will have a messenger system that can be accessed in areas other than the house. They can dispose off files, discuss the session and reply to e-mails.”

The official added that MPs will be given a choice if they want hard copies of the agenda documents or will go only with the soft copy. About 58% of MPs elected to the new Lok Sabha this time are ‘first-timers’, the highest number of debutant members elected to the lower house in the last 30 years. “We hope they are comfortable with technology but we have many tutorials scheduled for them beginning from June third week,” said the official.

“We are looking for an entirely paperless parliament this time. While we implemented 10 per cent of it last session, there was little enthusiasm. This time we will go full throttle, and we hope at least 40 per cent of the house opts for ‘only mail’ option,” he added.

Parliament will also launch a video portal soon that will have live online streaming during proceedings. “We will have different categories in there, especially one where in you can get all the speeches made by a certain politician,” he said

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