From a data recovery centre to WiFi at 2,500 panchayats, Rajasthan announces a slew of tech-driven initiativesSindhu Kashyap
“Rajasthan is known for its history, for its legacy. With different digital inaugurations, launches and firsts, Rajasthan today is writing new history,” said Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, addressing an auditorium packed with students, entrepreneurs, innovators and change makers at the Government Polytechnic College in Bikaner.
The three-day Rajasthan Digifest in Bikaner, the fifth in the series, was organised to bring awareness about the digital infrastructure across the state, and accessibility to it. The event started with TecRush, where startup founders ran a 5.4 km marathon that was flagged off by former Indian cricketer RP Singh.
Starting and hacking through
A hackathon at the DigiFest saw over 3,500 coders across 800 teams from across the country coding ideas that not only solved problems of everyday life like traffic congestion but worked on devices that could detect survivors during natural calamities. With its robotic snake that was fitted with sensors, Team Venom from Delhi won the Hackathon and took home a Rs 15 lakh government contract as the prize.
Startups from across the state pitched their products in the sectors of education, agriculture, sustainable housing and even cybersecurity. Three startups received funding of Rs 15 lakh each from the Bhamashah Techno Fund: edtech startup Bodhisatva AI, medical healthcare records platform Medcords, and security startup Capitia Connect.
The Government also organised a Job Fair, through which over 5,000 students secured jobs in different parts of the country, including with companies such as Wipro and PaisaBaazar.
“Today, Rajasthan stands out as an example. Be it adoption of technology, e-Governance or Startup promotion, states from all over India are queuing up to learn, to take a leaf out of Rajasthan’s development book,” said the Chief Minister at the awards ceremony.
Her government’s startup incubation centre, iStart, has begun work on two iStart Nest incubation centres in Jodhpur and Kota. iStart Nests also function in Jaipur and Udaipur. “Startups from across the country need to find it easy to work and do business in Rajasthan. For that, the first step is to foster and encourage people to start up in the state,” the Chief Minister said.
Technology touching grassroots
The government is also keen on innovations and the use of new technologies that would help the common man in sectors such as agriculture, government, finance, education and even in traditional arts and crafts. “Even the remotest regions need technology, and we are working towards that very end,” Akhil Arora, Principal Secretary DoIT&C, said at the DigiFest.
Highlighting some initiatives that the government had taken up like e-sakhi (digital literacy trainers), he said it was important for women to learn technology and know how to use it.
“Rajasthan is working towards becoming a dream of a state in India where every citizen will have digital enablement and access to everything on their mobile phones,” said Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Manipal Global Education, Startup mentor and investor.
Governance goes truly digital
The government’s Bhamashah programme, which was implemented before the announcement of Aadhaar, has been issuing ATM cards and benefits for women in rural Rajasthan.
At the DigiFest, the Rajasthan government launched ‘Abhay’ command centres for seven districts in the state. An Abhay command centre uses technology to help local authorities control and prevent crime.
The government also launched a Security Operations Centre for cybersecurity in Jaipur, a disaster data recovery centre in Jodhpur, an integrated health management system, the ‘Jal Dhaara’ command centre, a water plant for over 300 villages, and a video conferencing facility for the state and Raj WiFi, which will encompass 2500 panchayats.
“This, however, is just the beginning. The idea is to ensure that every state in the country follows Rajasthan and truly makes every aspect of their governance digital. We, as a state and country, are at a cusp of transformation. We can either leapfrog towards evolution, or move back into a vast abyss of underdevelopment. The idea is to leap and move ahead,” the Chief Minister said.