Friday, December 25, 2009

E-Governance In India Has Failed

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the core strength of business community of India. The same has, however, failed to find a place in the national policies and strategies of India and in governmental dealings. The ICT Trends of India 2009 showed the naked truth of the contrary claims of Government of India. Despite negative reports and progress in India, the Indian government is loyal to the “India Shining Syndrome” rather than concentrating upon real and effective ICT projects management in India.

According to Praveen Dalal, the leading Techno-Legal Expert of India and Managing Partner of Perry4Law “The Government and Indian Bureaucrats need to change their mindset and stress more upon outcomes and services rather than mere ICT procurement. India needs a services-based approach that is not only transparent but also backed by a more efficient and willing Government. Presently the Bureaucrats and Government of India are in a “resistance mode” towards novel and effective e-governance policies and strategies and they are merely computerising traditional official functions only. This is benefiting neither the Government nor the citizens and is resulting in wastage of thousands of crores of public money and UNDP/World Bank grants amount”.

The continued apathy, mismanagement and lack of accountability has finally shown its impact. The World Bank refused to operationalise the e-governance support project known as “E-Bharat” without its active management role in the same. The World Bank did not agree to the framework for implementation of E-Bharat as it was insisting on certain conditions to manage the project. For instance, against a hands-on project management approach being favoured by the World Bank, India was pushing for a programme mode where assistance could be linked to targets or milestones.

The expectations of World Bank are justified as there is a complete failure of e-governance projects in India barring few exceptions. In the absence of transparency and accountability, investing Crores of rupees in Indian e-governance projects is not a wise and profitable option. The World Bank must actively engage in day to day management functions of the projects it is sponsoring or funding.

In fact, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT, in its latest report noted that e-Bharat project was “in trouble”. Following the Government's decision not to establish a dedicated Special Purpose Vehicle (national e-governance agency), a requirement insisted on by the World Bank earlier, the Bank had advocated a newer look to be adopted inter-alia suggesting termination of the preparation of the E-Bharat Project. With the management controls in its hand, the World Bank may continue this much needed e-governance project of India. It would be good for Indian common man if other fund providing agencies like UNDP also take similar steps so that e-governance projects are not eaten up by corruption of Indian officials.