MPs go hi-tech, Rajya Sabha paperlessSeptember 7th, 2011 - 4:35 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) It’s the high-tech pill for going green and saving reams of paper — members of India’s upper house of parliament, equipped with tablet computers, can now read debates, know schedules and scan voluminous documents with the touch of a button.
The Rajya Sabha will be soon go paperless, a green initiative that is aimed at streamlining systems and making proceedings more efficient.
MPs usually get a one-time computer allowance of Rs.150,000 and this has now been hiked to Rs.200,000. The extra Rs.50,000 or nearly $1,000 is to allow them to buy either an Apple iPad or a Samsung Galaxy tab. The devices can only be ordered from the Rajya Sabha.
Samsung’s 8 GB Galaxy Tab 7.1 is available to MPs for Rs.26,000 and the 32 GB iPad 2 for nearly Rs.41,000.
The devices would be connected with the internet through a wi-fi network inside the house.
Owning a tablet is mandatory for all MPs, officials said.
And for MPs who find themselves technically challenged and not up-to-date with latest technology, the Rajya Sabha secretariat is organising special know-how classes.
This will be followed by a personalised training course for the MPs on how to use special applications created by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) from where daily schedules and lists can be downloaded.
According to a Rajya Sabha circular, an e-reader-compatible software application has been developed for “easy access to daily parliamentary papers through Apple iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab devices”.
“Using this application, members shall be able to access the latest list of business, papers laid on the table of the house, latest parliamentary bulletins, questions lists, and members’ birthdays on their devices,” the circular reads.
According to Sharada Subramaniam, joint secretary for IT in the secretariat, over 125 members from the total 245 have already bought the tablets.
Stating that the idea was to reduce paperwork, Subramaniam told IANS: “With the touch of a button, they can read debates, do all parliamentary business.”
Many Rajya Sabha MPs - with an average of 62 years - are quite happy with the initiative.
Communist Part of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said he had been using the device for a while. “I have referred to my notes on my iPad earlier but have not yet read out a speech from it.”
Others are a little wary but looking forward to embracing the new technology.
Naznin Faruque for the Congress said she was in a bit of tizzy but was slowly getting used to the new device.
“It is a very good move. We should be updated and well versed with the changing technology. That is what the time demands. I have not learnt it fully, but slowly and steadily we are getting used to it and are learning,” said the 57-year-old MP from Assam.
Her colleague Vijaylaxmi Sadho, also of the Congress, added: “Our paperwork would be reduced. Just this sleek device in our hands and everything is a click away.”
The Lok Sabha is strongly considering a similar scheme and a recommendation.
Outside parliament in the net world, the initiative has met with a mixed reaction. “Really gud news 4 thm tht Nw thy can play game on their tab during their ‘working hours’….!!!! (Sic),” Facebook user Vipal B. Parikh from the University of Bridgeport wrote on the social networking site.
The fact that tax payers’ money is being used to buy the devices has also come under sharp criticism. “Every Indian MP to get an Ipad..Poor Indian public should be given the liberty to call it iPaid!” user @nishuarora wrote On Twitter.
(Sarwar Kashani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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