The perks of being an Ahmedabad city councillor now include getting a high-end laptop — even if the councillor concerned cannot open a Microsoft Word document on a computer.
That’s what Vibes of India found when our team visited the elected officials’ wing of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC).
The civic body plans to purchase high-end laptops, collectively worth over Rs 1 crore, for its 192 councillors and 50 officers in line with fulfilling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of a digital India, Bhaskar Bhatt, leader of the ruling BJP in the AMC, said.
The laptops are meant to ensure that the councillors can keep in touch with their constituents in real-time, he waxed eloquent.
However, most councillors fumbled on the keyboard when Vibes of India offered them a laptop — the sarkari ones will arrive in some three months — and asked them to open a Microsoft Word document.
Bhatt shrugged it off: “We will hold learning sessions for the councillors who don’t know how to operate a laptop.”
The Opposition councillors, too, were happy and — surprise — with the ruling party on the digital learning curve.
“I am looking forward to getting a laptop,” said Nirav Baxi, Congress councillor from Dariyapur. “We anyway use smartphones, and it won’t be difficult to learn how to operate laptops.”
New entrant AIMIM’s councillor Mushtaq Khadiwala offered similar reasoning. “Everyone does not come from a background where using a laptop is commonplace. We are willing to learn and use the available technology to the best of our abilities,” he said.
The VoI team then visited the ruling party’s wing at the AMC to check how close — or far — they were from fulfilling their leader’s dream of digital India. The result? Well, watch it here:
The AMC officials said the process of buying and distributing laptops is carried out every five years.
“We have released a tender for purchase of the laptops,” said Hitesh Barot, chairman of the AMC’s Standing Committee. “We intend to buy around 250 laptops. We are at the first stage of the buying process. The budget can be stretched up to Rs 2 crore.”
BJP leader Bhatt iterated to VoI that the laptops would help the councillors connect better with the people.
“We want to ensure that all the councillors are digitally equipped to connect with their electorate as well as improve the ease of doing business,” he said.
He also said those who already have laptops might not be provided one. “The process of sanctioning the funds, purchasing and distributing the laptops will be over in around three months,” Bhatt said.