Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Failures Of Indian E-Governance Initiatives

E-Governance in India has always been projected as a “success” though it is far from that. The problem lies with the fact that Indian politicians lacks the “will and knowledge” to execute various e-governance projects in India. The position is further made worst by Indian bureaucrats who enjoy blanket protection for their inefficiency and non accountability. Few of the recent cases illustrate this scenario.

The clouds of uncertainty have come to haunt the ambitious e-suvidha proposal following the tiff between the agencies managing the services over anomalies in payment and the over all administration. The agencies in questions -- CMS computers and e-suvidha (the nodal agency) -- have been in thick of controversy after the two alleged each other of breaking the agreement they had entered into when the services were thrown open to public some eight years ago. Well placed sources in the CMS computers, which had mooted the proposals said that it was because of the apathy on the part of e-suvidha's nodal agency that the proposal might soon be dumped. The result: harried denizens and their lost of faith on government claim of e-governance.

Similarly, a huge e-governance project that was to cost over Rs 40 crores, has been cancelled at the last minute after members of the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) standing committee reportedly failed to reach an amicable solution on who should be awarded the tender. The e-governance ERP (Entrepreneur Resource Planning) project is part of obligatory reforms that the Pune Municipal Corporations is supposed to carry out to continue to receive funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

Further, the much hyped Rs 21 crores e-governance project of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has come under cloud with several irregularities in the tender process coming to fore. NMC floated the tender on January 19. Seven firms purchased the tender document. The pre-bid meeting was held on February 2. In this meeting, some firms sought several relaxations many of which were granted. However, NMC did not publish a corrigendum in newspapers to inform other prospective bidders about the relaxation in conditions. It merely sent an e-mail about replies to the queries in pre-bid meet to the firms that had purchased the tender forms. The same was put on NMC's website. However, the relaxation in the conditions was not separately mentioned.

Clearly there is lack of transparency, accountability and insight among the people managing Indian e-governance initiatives. India needs good ICT Policies and Strategies to resolve issues pertaining to ICT in India. There is also a need to establish accountability of bureaucrats and other people managing the e-governance projects in India.