Tribal Affairs Ministry bags prestigious SKOCH Challenger Award for “Best Performance in eGovernance”

Tribal Affairs Ministry bags prestigious SKOCH Challenger Award for “Best Performance in eGovernance”

New Delhi: The Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) has received the much-coveted SKOCH Challenger Award for the “Best Performance in eGovernance” due to implementation of policy initiatives through government programs. The award was received by the honorable Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, Shri Arjun Munda, at the Virtual 70th SKOCH Summit 2020 titled ‘Public Policy for Tribal and Marginalized,”

The ministry has digitized all the processes leading to a paperless office, monitoring is data-driven, communication to states is online, the report system is analytics-based and a performance dashboard is updated on a real-time basis. There is transparency with data available in the public domain across the following: Performance Dashboard, Prayas– PMO Dashboard, NITI Aayog and DBT Mission.

 This is the second time that the ministry has bagged such an honour. Earlier, in July 2020, the Scholarship Division of the Ministry received a SKOCH Gold Award for its project called “Empowerment of Tribals through IT-enabled Scholarship Schemes”.

Speaking about the award the honorable Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, Arjun Munda explained that the award is the validation of the good work the ministry has been doing for the community. “The award gains prominence as it is considered to be India’s highest independent award and is bestowed after exhaustive research and expert evaluations,” said Mr. Munda.

Highlighting the other successful projects for Tribal and Marginalized implemented by the ministry Shri Munda said that MoTA is fully committed to the smooth and effective implementation of the Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) that aims to bring transparency, eliminate misuse of funds and enable enhanced monitoring of the Schemes implemented by the Government of India. “In DBT, benefit or subsidy is directly transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries. Public Finance Management System (PFMS) acts as the common Platform for DBT,” he said.

It should be noted that to assimilate with the larger vision of ‘Digital India’ and to realize the cherished goal of e-governance, MoTA has integrated all 5 Scholarship Schemes with DBT Portal under the guidance of DBT Mission. Beneficiary data is available online and 19 states/UTs send data using web services and 12 on National Scholarship Portal (NSP).

“All 5 scholarship schemes have been digitized as per DBT Mission mandate. 13 schemes are on the ministry dashboard; 6 initiatives are on Prayas PMO dashboard” informed Mr. Munda.

He also emphasized on the importance of understanding the people and culture of the tribal areas to help them utilize rich natural resources and manpower for their benefit and empowerment and also help them protect the environment in the process. “Therefore, we have implemented the Forest Rights Act (FRA) to maintain the balance,” he added.

Mr Deepak Khandekar, Secretary, MoTA who also graced the occasion is of the opinion that the technology has changed the definition of remote areas as the ministry receives correct data at a faster rate from remote areas like Mizoram for any project implemented by the ministry. “Earlier we would define remote areas with the distance from the main road, now technology has erased that definition as it has brought those areas nearer to us,” he said.

He also added that the tribal knowledge that exists for ages with the tribal needs to be explored. “We need to change our attitude towards the tribal people. The best example is ‘Giloy’ medicine that proved to be effective in keeping the virus at bay during COVID pandemic. The knowledge of which was with the tribal community for centuries, such vast knowledge of our environment and its resources needs to be explored for betterment of the society and also of the people from the areas,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Sameer Kochhar, Chairman, SKOCH Group stated Technology is very essential for growth and generally no one would associate Tribal Affairs Ministry with eGovernance, but the ministry has surprised everyone with their excellence in eGovernance . “The Ministry has taken several initiatives that have benefitted the tribal and marginalised community at large. Making the entire scholarship release process online has enabled 64- lakh beneficiaries to receive scholarships directly into their accounts through DBT. The availability of data on PM Dashboard, MoTA, and DBT dashboard adds to the transparency,” said Mr. Kochhar.

SKOCH Challenger Award is SKOCH Group’s topmost honor. It is considered India’s Highest Independent Honour and is bestowed after exhaustive research and expert evaluations.