Straight Talk with R. Sri Kumar

IPS R. Sri Kumar was the former vigilance commissioner in the Central Vigilance Commission, India. He was in the team that cracked Shri Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. He is best known for unearthing the stamp paper scam involving kingpin Abdul Karim Telgi. He speaks to Sameera Fernandes on his present plans and the various initiatives to support the country through transformations on the technological front.

What are your plans to support the state with the Sustainable Development Goals Vision 2030?

Over the years we have been developing a monitoring and evaluation ICT platform called GPMS Transportal to facilitate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations from global to local levels. The platform is ready with regards to SDG 3 – Health and SDG 4 – Education. This platform can be further expanded for all goals from SDG 1- Poverty alleviation to SDG 17- Partnerships for Goals. All 17 goals with their 169 targets and 231 indicators can be monitored and evaluated on real time basis for performance appraisal at all levels in the hierarchy.

What is your key area of focus keeping in mind the emerging trends of the Healthcare sector?

Presently, we are focussing on the End of Tuberculosis by 2025 – a mission India has set for itself to achieve five years ahead of the rest of the World. It is a big challenge considering that nearly a Million plus are supposed to be missing from the trace, track, treat regime currently in operation in the country. We have built the platform – that is cloud based and hosted out of a Government facility in Bangalore and our role is to keep developing and adding modules so that the entire nation benefits from focussed attention being paid at all levels in a coordinated manner on 231 indicators related to the 17 Goals.

Can you share some of the other initiatives that you are working on?

We have a smart city module that is currently implemented in Tumakuru city which is in the first list of 100 Smart cities being developed across India. Smart cities need to leverage technology and the digital transformation to make the urban spaces less cluttered, more coordinated and well connected. Large scale migrations should not degenerate the developing Smart cities, and therefore the Smart cities should adequately cater to their rural hinterland too. Tumakuru smart city Limited is a special purpose vehicle set up for speeding up all the smart city related developments.

The project on farm breading of Milch Cattle has taken a back seat. What is needed to get this into a self-sustaining mode?

Artificial intelligence can help Indian farmers tremendously. Same validated data can be made available to all the stakeholders at the time of their need and this can be a game changer. For the farmers, better breeds of cows and buffalos ensures more milk yield and overall improvement of the economy. The portal to boost indigenous breed development program of animal husbandry was launched in November 2016 and has been maintained by us without a break since then. We look towards taking forward Centre- State cooperation in this vital sector since this is a central program in which many State organisations as well as private players are also working and need to share some data constantly to smoothen the operations.

How can cloud computing system for farming, benefit the agricultural sector across India?

Doubling of farmers income through timely market intelligence is another system that is under development. There is therefore a provision to be inclusive for those who are presently computer illiterate. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has a national e-governance division and through this entity, they have set up over 3.5 lakhs Common Service Centres at the village level operated by village level workers/ entrepreneurs in the seven lakh villages all over the country. The system can be used to detect health of cattle, spread of subclinical diseases, and farmers can reach out for help to a nearby artificial insemination technician for servicing their milch cattle. Farmers can report on symptoms of Covid, seek medical assistance on line, they can use digital platform for payment of taxes, electricity and other utility bills etc. Making people to use technology for day to day problems is one of our biggest challenges and we address this through constant communication through various customer touch points.

The Agricultural sector has a long way to go in making farming a profitable profession. What steps are needed in this direction?

Several programs are taken up by different ministries. e.g. Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, has the doubling of the farmers income as one of their initiatives. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launches satellites to collect terrestrial data including moisture content and Vegetation. Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) compiles Weather & Weather-based Information. Soil types and Surface water information is available with other organisations like the National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC) and Water resources ministry. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and its National e-Governance Division (NeGD) have developed an APP called Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG). This application integrates with our GPMS trans portal as well. It is time to use the digital platform and technology to disrupt India’s Agriculture sector, the dairy industry and thus help the farmers. The best way forward is to build multi-stakeholder partnerships that can tap into these opportunities.

The views and opinions published here belong to the interviewer and the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sameera Fernandes
Sameera Fernandes is the Director of Ecosol Global and Chairperson of External Affairs - Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC). She is also the former Director – Strategy, St. Francis College, Bengaluru.

She was conferred with the Nirbhaya Award and also the ‘Woman of Influence’ Award by Archbishop Dr. Peter Machado.

Her past stints include Sun Microsystems, Nokia (UAE), Jet Airways, Al Ghurair Investments (UAE) and has been a regular contributor to the Friday Magazine of Gulf News.

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