Expedite digitization of Civil Secretariat records

Certain imperative changes and introduction of innovative methods in the administrative system may be the need of the hour for every State in India but for Jammu and Kashmir, it is unquestionably mandatory for more reasons than could otherwise be felt. Digitization or digitalization of official records is one of the most urgently required administrative requirement and was not any negotiable prerequisite which could be deferred at will, if not made to wait indefinitely. Nowhere in the country is the royal tradition prevalent where entire administrative apparatus was being shifted on half yearly basis between two of its capital cities. We do not dispute the practice under the changed timers or want its final reviewing although disruption of more than two weeks takes place and equal number of working days are lost as lorries, trucks and other mode of transportation are used to shift records, files, papers, etc in respect of various departments of the Civil Secretariat. The process involved not only huge expenditure on such shifting and its collateral expenses which looking to the state of affairs of the revenue earnings of this State (now going to be Union Territory after the end of the next month) was unwarranted but entailed risks of part of records getting torn, detached from bounds and files, misplaced, worn out or even lost.
On the other hand, readers may recall that a devastating fire in the Civil Secretariat at Srinagar in the year 2013 destroyed official records of more than six departments. Not only this, the crucial records in respect of employees, the “Service Books” of as many as 300 employees suffered extensive damages. Again, in the year 2014 unparalleled devastating floods consumed official records of several of the departments functioning in the Civil Secretariat at Srinagar. Retrieving process and reconstructing the same was felt not only difficult but accuracy of records could not be deemed to be cent percent while certain records which needed original forms could never be remade . All these factors warranted for a lasting solution which led the Government authorities agree about the dire need of digitization of all the official records and this decision was reiterated by all the successive Governments in principle as no one could find any flaw therein but only all the merits and measures of ample safety embedded in the proposed process. Otherwise also, hardly is there any PSU under the Central Government or most of the departments of other States where records were not maintained in digits. Infact the era is called as digital and on that count also, the process was needed the most.
However, on assessment of the implementation of this decision, we find as on date that there was no progress worth the name in the transformational process and writing, recording, preserving, recording and even shifting of vital records and files was all being done manually. The fast approaching Darbar -move process was going to be again done in traditional way as was being done 50 years or even earlier. There were high expectations from the administration to break the status-quo in the matter but utter slackness and even recklessness in early implementation were rife and at the same time, there was no word from the General Administration Department as to by which time, the entire process would be completed. The State Administration could even safely outsource the job so as to get it done in a professional manner if the Information Technology Department had certain limitations in getting it done. Not only could the records be safely maintained and secured but retrieval process could also become quick, safe and smooth through Data Management System managed by authorised users. On the other hand, File Tracking System too has not been fully implemented in all the offices in the Civil Secretariat. The process was loaded with resulting in ensuring efficiency, accuracy, consistency and effective monitoring which could automatically result in transparency and accountability too.
It is customary with the State Administration that whenever an emergency or an unprecedented happening, both natural and manmade took place, the proverbial digging of wells was being resorted to and panic buttons pressed instead of making enough prior provisions to pre-empt or ensure the minimum possible damages. It is, therefore, hoped that the process of digitalization in the Civil Secretariat would be given top most priority as the State needs it urgently.