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Issue of May 2006 
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Changing with the times

The Ministry of Company Affairs and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have recently launched an online portal to provide electronic filing services to its stakeholders. Sneha Khanna tracks the project's implementation


Tanmoy Chakravorty

The Indian government under the aegis of Ministry of Company Affairs has recently launched a project called MCA-21. The project was formally launched at Coimbatore in February 2006 and is expected to go live all over the country before May 2006.

TCS has been assigned a six-year contract to provide and maintain an online portal to enable companies to file their annual statements with the Registrar of Companies (ROC). 20 offices of ROC, which include regional offices at New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad are involved in the project.

Says Tanmoy Chakravorty, Vice-president, Global Head of Governance Practice, Tata Consultancy Services, “The project implementation commenced with the signing of a contract with TCS. Under the project, TCS is implementing the project for a period of 60 days and thereafter an operational period of six years.” Officials at the 20 ROC offices in India are likely to benefit. In about a year’s time, they will no longer have to deal with an annual deluge of 60 million sheets of paper from six lakh companies.

Under a Single Hub

Under the MCA-21 project, the ministry has launched a full suite of services to the stakeholders of ROC through their Web site, www.mac.gov.in. With registration, stakeholders can now file their statements online.

Says Chakravorty, “The project serves the interests of all its key stakeholders. Primary among them are businesses and corporates, which now enjoy simple, hassle-free interaction on compliance matters.” The MCA-21 portal will serve as a uniform, single point for filing all statutory returns. It will also provide the benefit of online access to public records.

Under the contract, TCS is making sure that the initiative is successful. They have opened centres called Physical Front Offices (PFO) at 53 locations throughout the country. At these PFOs, authorised facilitation personnel will be deployed to help stakeholders switch over to the new system.

Says Chakravorty, “Once implemented throughout the country, the project will enable delivery of services with speed, transparency and certainty to all the stakeholders. Performance level benchmarks have been clearly defined both for facilitation centres as well as back offices.”

The ministry will spend Rs 345 crore on the project. The National Institute of Smart Governance (NISG) will monitor the project under the National E-Governance Plan (NEGP).

‘Boot’ing Up MCA-21

TCS is executing the project on BOOT (Build, Operate, Own and Transfer) model. Says Chakravorty, “Under the project framework, TCS will be responsible for project design and implementation.”

TCS is implementing the project on a public private partnership model. It has deployed solutions from Cisco consisting of routers, switches, and hubs, Unix servers and desktops from IBM, and scanners and printers from HP. VSNL is deploying the Wide Area Network connectivity for the project using its ISP network.

Certified for Integrity

To ensure information integrity, TCS, the certifying authority for Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) for this project, is issuing Director Identification Number (DIN) to the companies.

The DIN is necessary to obtain the DSC for companies, which wish to use electronic filing facilities. Says Chakravorty, “The ministry has called upon all the existing directors to apply for the allotment of DIN.”

The SLA Guaranty

TCS has SLAs with the ministry on four major areas:

  • Connectivity service level
  • Availability of software
  • Availability of hardware
  • Support service level

Qualitative Benefits

A visit to the Registrar of Companies’ office will no longer be required for corporations and professionals. They will be able to interact with the the MCA-21 portal from their offices, home or by going to the facilitation centres

The main attraction for all stakeholders in the project is the electronic filling of documents. Says Chakravorty, “This key feature aims to bring about a paperless environment and shorten the time taken by MCA to provide services and greater transparency.” Some of the other benefits of the project are the following.

A visit to the Registrar of Companies’ office will no longer be required for corporations and professionals. They will be able to interact with the ministry using the MCA-21 portal from their offices, home or by going to the facilitation centres.

There are multiple options for making payments online through credit cards or an Internet banking facility. Besides this, the traditional payment through demand draft will be accepted against a system-generated challan at more than 200 bank branches across the country.

There will be a unique and lifetime identification number called DIN issued to all current and prospective directors. The system would also enable stakeholders to track their service request through a Service Request Number (SRN). It will facilitate electronic submission of forms through DSC.

Prepared for any Eventuality

TCS has set up its primary data centre at VSNL’s data centre in Delhi. This is backed by a disaster recovery set up at VSNL’s Chennai data centre.

In case of disaster, information can be recovered within 12 hours. “The system is secure and has built in redundancy to ensure that services are continuously available round the clock,” says Chakravorty.

 
     
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