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In House’s tech makeover, senior MLAs let young take lead, Speaker says ‘flip tablet pages like a book’

THEY MAY have taken many a young legislator under their wing but during a session organised in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly on Saturday to train House members in using the tablets installed on their seats, many senior MLAs chose to sit back and learn from their younger colleagues instead.

As part of its efforts to go paperless, the state government has installed tablets on 416 seats in the Assembly under the National E-Vidhan Application project.

As experts from the National Informatics Centre shuttled between seats, patiently trying to explain the nuances of the paperless system to the MLAs, there were many senior leaders who turned to the younger leaders to help understand the technology.

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On the other hand, Speaker Satish Mahana remained calm as he boosted the morale of the House.

“Jaise kagaz ki kitab ke panne palatate hain, waise apni ungaliyon ka upyog karte hue palatiye (Flip the pages on the tablet, just like you turn the pages of a book,” Mahana said, trying to explain to the members how they could flip pages of an e-book on their tablets.

The struggle to understand technology also blurred party lines. So, when BJP state Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi got up to ask how he could access the “My Notes” section on the tablet, BSP MLA Uma Shanker Singh came to his rescue. There were also some MLAs who were seen clicking selfies with the swanky tablets and uploading them on social media while tech-savvy legislators like Samajwadi Party MLA Irfan Solanki were seen exploring the new paperless system on their own.

As one of the House members from the treasury benches tried to ask a rather complex question – how to upload a supplementary question online while taking notes on the system – Mahana asked them to not rush and take things slowly else others would get confused. “Aap abhi Class 1 mein nahi pahunche aur PhD karne chale hain (You haven’t passed Class I and you are trying to pursue a PhD),” he said in jest.

What is new about the system:

With 403 members, Uttar Pradesh is the first state in the country to experiment with a paperless system on such a large scale. Talking about the new paperless system, NIC expert Rashid Husain said that each House member can log in on tablets through a unique ID and password.

What each e-book will have:

After they log in, members would be able to access documents related to the proceedings of the House – right from the Governor’s speech and the agenda of the House to Bills, notices and, questions and answers. Members can access the questions and their answers individually. The e-books also include a “rule book” for Uttar Pradesh Assembly.

Special feature for Ministers:

Ministers would be able to exchange notes directly with their secretaries via a special system that would be installed on their tablets. Sources said that often ministers are unable to access relevant data while answering supplementary questions. This feature would help ministers get in touch with their secretaries to seek information. .

Online submission of questions and notices:

Hussain said that while members can currently submit their questions online by logging into the system from their offices or home, NIC is also working to introduce features like e-voting and biometric attendance. “As for now, the members have been given login and passwords but later they will be able to log into their tablets with their biometric details,” said the NIC expert.

Real-time record of speeches:

Under the paperless system, whenever an MLA or the Speaker speaks, their picture would appear on the tablets of other members as well as on the screens installed in the Assembly. The screen would record the start and the closing time of all speeches, making it easier to ascertain the number of minutes each member spoke in the Assembly.

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