Tech-savvy Rajesh Aggarwal aims to bridge government-citizens gap via technology

By : |May 18, 2015 0
Owing to his passion for technology, Aggarwal has put Maharashtra at the forefront of other states on landmark IT projects.

Rajesh Aggarwal, Ex-Principal Secretary-IT in Maharashtra government and current Joint Secretary (Financial Services), seems to be the most tech-savvy technocrat in the Indian government. Agarwal, an IAS officer of the 1989 batch, also holds the degree of computer science engineering from IIT Delhi.

A dynamic techie, Aggarwal was named as principal secretary, Department of IT in Maharashtra government in 2011. Owing to his passion for technology, he has been able put Maharashtra at the forefront of other states on landmark achievements and projects in IT and e-governance over a short span in the department. For Aggarwal’s work, the state government has bagged plenty of awards at various national and international forums for e-Governance. He was also presented with the ‘Digital Crusador Award’ for CIOL C-Change Awards 2015 at C-Change 2015.

He has been advocating use of eGovernance, use of technology to reduce of remove corruption. For instance, one of his projects, eTendering saves at least ten percent in government procurements, ensuring FIFO- First in, First out for various applicants etc.

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During his stint at Election Commission of India at New Delhi in mid 2000, he developed lot of fuzzy matching techniques to dedupe the voter lists, worked with large databases (700 million voters and 500 million photographs) in more than a dozen Indian Languages, executed photo rolls project (now voters see their photograph printed in the voter list), and convinced Delimitation Commission to make new assembly and parliament boundaries using GIS Maps from census of India.

Thereafter, he moved outside the Government for two years for managing Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), where he managed to dramatically decrease the domestic internet traffic packets going outside the country, and increased .IN domain names considerably, and introduced forward looking policies in both the fields.

Back to State Government in 2009, during his two week additional charge of Social Justice department, the department could issue government orders regarding scholarship money to kids going into their bank account directly. Afterward, during Aggarwal’s short stint as secretary accounts and treasuries, his focus was on making treasuries cheque-less, going totally electronic on receipts and payment sides. Post that, as IT Secretary of Maharashtra from June 2011 to January 2015, Aggarwal deeply focused on IT Fundamentals, and led multiple large initiatives like implementation of UID and financial inclusion, direct benefit transfer, e-Office implementation, e-Tendering, implementation of state e-Governance Policy, focus on accessibility and localization. The government of Maharashtra launched, a mobile app ‘Accessible Places’, a crowd sourcing platform where people can find and contribute information regarding disabled friendly places in Maharashtra.

Under Aggarwal’s leadership, the state government has been rated as a leader in national e-Readiness surveys of government of India and has received more than 100 national and international awards for e-Governance in the last three years, including the National Award for innovation in UID.

As IT Secretary, his focus on simplification and standardization of processes and elimination of transactions including the concept of home delivery of G2C services has been impactful. With an objective of ‘minimizing government and maximizing governance’, some of the best practices during his various stints has been, to make the services available to the citizens through Common Service Centers (CSCs) in an easier and hassle free manner. As part of his home delivery or digital delivery of output project, approximately 2 lakh certificates were issued to citizens through e-District Project (with digital signatures).

In the year 2011, Maharashtra became the first and the only state in the country to have successfully tested Aadhaar authentication based opening of bank account and Aadhaar authentication based fund transfer (without feeding the bank name / account number). The fund transfer was done by using only their Aadhaar number and biometric authentication. This concept was later replicated in larger scale throughout the country.

Agarwal’s one the most prominent project, launch of Aadhaar-linked biometric e-KYC (know your customer) services. As a result, when residents visit the government office for any service, they do not to carry any document or proof of identity with them. Just the fingerprint or the iris and the UID number for identification will digitally pull the resident’s details. It can be done on the android devices as well, which makes services easy to use for citizen.

In January 2015, Aggarwal has moved back to Delhi in Government of India as Joint Secretary (Financial Services), and Mission Director of Flagship Initiative of Financial Inclusion (Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana). He also run a hobby websites, one related to maths, and another on e-governance.

 

 

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