To promote the use of technology in public sector organisations and government departments and to accelerate the government's overall growth agenda under the Digital India programme in a post-pandemic world, Tech Observer Magazine organised the India Public Sector Symposium in partnership with global technology giant Citrix.
The virtual conference, themed “Building a Resilient and Secure Digital India,” drew industry leaders, top government officials, and specialists. Over 250 participants, speakers, and experts convened on a single platform to examine technology's untapped potential for enhancing resilience and agility, as well as assuring wider access to data, tools, and technology for improved governance in a post-pandemic world.
The chief guest address was delivered by Shripad Yesso Naik, Union Minister of State for Tourism, Ports, Shipping, and Waterways.
Top speakers included — Dr. Neeta Verma, Director General, National Informatics Centre; Pawan Kumar Joshi, DDG, NIC; Col. A K Nath (Rtd) DG, CDAC; Vinayak C Gupta ADG, CBIC; Vijay Jayaraman Director, Presales Systems Engineering, Citrix; Pankaj Khurana Partner, Government & Public Sector Consulting, EY; Dr Saurabh Gupta, Joint Secretary (NATGRI), Ministry of External Affairs; Amit Sharma, CEO, Jammu & Kashmir e-Governance Agency; Vijay Devnath, CISO and GM, Centre For Railways Information System; Golok Kumar Simli, CTO, Passport Seva Project, Ministry of External Affairs; Ashwini Rao Sales Leader – Public Sector, Citrix; and Jaydeep Singh, Director, Public Sector, Enterprise, Citrix.
The speakers agreed that the pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge for government technology thought leadership but it has also created an enormous opportunity for them to reimagine how they deliver services to citizens, build IT infrastructure, and implement projects in a digital-first world.
They need to accelerate their focus on mobile government workforce, adoption of cloud and next-generation networking, secure delivery of application and data and enablement of Digital Bharat.
Union Minister Shripad Yesso Naik stressed in his chief guest address that India's deep investment in technology and progress in the digital transformation of various government departments, fueled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, and Sabka Vishwas, have proven to be a great boon during the pandemic. Numerous firms have handled the unusual demand of on-the-go remote working and business continuity plans, owing to their existing IT infrastructure and the government's innovation in digital transformation.
“The pandemic's lessons require a higher emphasis on data and application security, a flexible workforce environment, improved inter-departmental communication, resiliency, agility, and workforce management,” the minister stated.
Vinayak C Gupta, ADG, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), stated in his keynote address that the government's technology-led initiatives had resulted in remarkable new inventions, social and business outcomes. “We have seen how, even during the pandemic, when everything was closed to adhere to covid requirements, government organisations leveraged technology to implement business continuity plans and provide services to citizens,” he observed.
He explained that technology is being extensively used in CBIC across the country, leading to greater facilitation to the tax-payer and tangible benefits to the tax administration.
“We have always been pioneers in the application of technology to development and governance. Efforts are being undertaken across the country to improve governance and citizen service delivery through the use of next-generation technologies. AI, machine learning, and Blockchain technologies — all have enormous potential,” he stated.
“These technologies enable organisations to address long-standing issues. We must utilise digital technology for the greater good of humanity and increase our efficiency,” Gupta stated.
Dr Neeta Verma, Director General, National Informatics Centre, expressed her thoughts, stating that despite pandemic concerns, technologists now have access to incredible tools. “We can utilise them to create applications that were previously impossible,” she explained, adding that cybersecurity threats are not only increasing in number, but also in sophistication. As a result, cybersecurity must be an integral aspect of all digital initiatives.
Pawana Kumar Joshi, NIC's Deputy Director General, explained during his address that citizen expectations for e-governance services have been gradually increasing, and as a result, NIC is putting in place tools and technology to enable government departments to deliver the best CX experience when citizens interact with them.
Vijay Jayaraman, Director, Presales Systems Engineering, Citrix, discussed the growing need of having an agile and scalable IT infrastructure to maintain business continuity during his keynote talk. He stated that government organisations performed admirably during the epidemic, utilising cloud technology and scalable applications such as the Arogya Setu app and integrated command and control centre to help alleviate the pandemic's challenges.
“Integrated platforms powered by digital technology maintained business continuity for departments of all sizes during the pandemic and advanced the digital transformation journeys of many organisations,” he explained. Government organisations have recognised the realities of hybrid work and are speeding their remote work strategy through the use of tools and technologies.”
He emphasised the difficulty of offering enterprise-grade security and experience to remote workers, as a secure and scalable distributed workforce necessitates rethinking where and how teams operate. “Employees expect to be able to access their work from any device, at any time. And organisations require a low-cost, straightforward solution for securely distributing applications and desktops to employees,” he said, adding that Citrix has years of experience in enabling this.
The symposium also witnessed a special panel discussion on the Building Resilient and Secure Digital India moderated by Pankaj Khurana Partner, Government & Public Sector Consulting, EY, in which senior government technology leaders including Dr Saurabh Gupta, Joint Secretary (NATGRI), Ministry of External Affairs, Amit Sharma, CEO, Jammu & Kashmir e-Governance Agency, Vijay Devnath, CISO and GM, Centre For Railways Information System, Golok Kumar Simli, CTO, Passport Seva Project, Ministry of External Affairs, and Ashwini Rao, Sales Leader – Public Sector, Citrix — shared their views on how government organisations can make their system agile and secure with the adoption of next-generation technology and platforms.
Additionally, they emphasised the critical problems associated with enabling secure access to apps, remote desktops, and data from any location. Vijay Devnath of CRIS, Amit Sharma of JaKEGA, and Ashwini Rao of Citrix all stressed that while technology adoption has expanded throughout the pandemic, the surface of cyberattack for hackers has increased as well. As a result, public sector leaders must incorporate security into their overall plan.
All of the speakers agreed that a hybrid workplace is a reality and that the necessary tools, technology, and connectivity are accessible. They claimed that government organisations must capitalise on the technological advances made during pandemics while maintaining security.