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Centre, states to review projects today through videoconference

Centre, states to review projects today through videoconference
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First Published: Thu, Feb 26 2009. 09 25 PM IST
Updated: Thu, Feb 26 2009. 09 25 PM IST
New Delhi: Cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar, the country’s top civil servant, will hold talks with state chief secretaries on Friday via video link, a first-of-its-kind initiative that is aimed at cutting costs and saving time amid the economic downturn.
The meeting will review state projects and programmes that have either been stuck or are not performing in line with expectations.
The government has been experimenting with videoconferencing technology for sometime now, although Friday’s meeting of top bureaucrats will mark the first time it is used for such an event, said officials who didn’t want to be named, although it is a common corporate practice.
“One major reason for the move by many organizations to videoconferencing is the cost factor. This is a recent factor as with the economic downturn cost has become very important,” said Dinesh Sehgal, regional director, TANDBERG, a company that competes with Cisco Systems Inc. and Polycom Inc. in the videoconferencing market.
“Earlier, the main factor behind companies adopting videoconferencing technology was productivity of employees,” Sehgal said.
The government expects India’s economic growth to drop to 7.1% in the year ending 31 March, the slowest pace in six years. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earlier written to his colleagues urging austerity within the government even as the finance ministry directed other ministries to slash spending and even stop holding conferences at five-star hotels.
Friday’s meeting will be divided into two sessions, each comprising chief secretaries of seven states interacting with the cabinet secretary.
“This is a unique arrangement which has been worked out and will save enormous amount of time and resources, which otherwise (would have) had to be deployed if these chief secretaries had to travel to Delhi,” said a senior government official who didn’t want to be named.
K.P. Narayana Kumar and Shauvik Ghosh contributed to this story.
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First Published: Thu, Feb 26 2009. 09 25 PM IST