Deshmukh reviews Maharashtra IT literacy venture
CHIEF minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Monday took stock of the progress made on the state government’s tie-up with Microsoft Corporation to spread IT literacy in the state and enable better delivery of e-governance services. Maharashtra had signed an MoU with Microsoft Corporation in June this year during Mr Deshmukh’s tour of the US to hard-sell the state. At a meeting on Monday also attended by Microsoft Corporation chairman Ravi Venkatesan, Mr Deshmukh took a review of the initial formalities completed so far and the roadmap for the future. A key component of the Maharashtra-Microsoft tie-up is the objective of making e-governance useful for farmers. Microsoft would serve as technology provider as well as e-governance consultant to the state government under the MoU, sources said. “Land records and information on government schemes have to be made accessible for farmers. It is in this respect that the state government wants Microsoft to chip in so that e-governance does not remain an urban facility only,” an industry department official said. The state has sought Microsoft’s expertise and technologically prowess to develop software in Marathi so that lack of knowledge of English does not remain a hurdle for millions of people, sources said. Under Project Bhasha, Microsoft plans to develop Marathi interfaces for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, sources said. “We are regularly in talks with Microsoft over all aspects of this partnership. Several government departments like industry, school education, agriculture, and of course IT are involved in the programme,” said an official. Another major component of the partnership towards accelerating e-literacy is the collaboration between Microsoft and schools and universities in the state under the partners-in-learning programme. Microsoft has already set up 2 IT academies in Pune and Nagpur and plans to build a third facility also under this agreement. Each of these academies would train over 20,000 teachers who would pass on the knowledge to two lakh school students, sources said