Friday, July 23, 2010

What Failed E-Governance In India

E-governance in India has become a source of corruption rather than removing corruption and bringing transparency. Various e-governance projects in India have been achieved on papers alone without any transparency and accountability for the hard earned public money wastage.

E-governance in India has by and large a flop show. There are many factors that led to the poor performance of the e-governance in India. The major among them are lack of planning, omnipresent corruption in governmental offices, lack of accountability, misleading policies, etc. Further, e-governance in India has never been considered a part of good governance.

E-governance is beyond the scope of e-government. While e-government is defined as a mere delivery of government services and information to the public using electronic means, e-governance allows direct participation of constituents in government activities.

E-governance is not just about government web site and e-mail. It is not just about service delivery over the Internet. It is not just about digital access to government information or electronic payments. It will change how citizens relate to governments as much as it changes how citizens relate to each other. It will bring forth new concepts of citizenship, both in terms of needs and responsibilities.

E-governance will allow citizens to communicate with government, participate in the governments' policy-making and citizens to communicate each other. The e-governance will truly allow citizens to participate in the government decision-making process, reflect their true needs and welfare by utilizing e-government as a tool.

However, e-governance in India has been a complete failure. There is too much stress upon procurement as opposed to management. India has to accept that computerisation of traditional governmental and public functions are not e-governance. We have to empower the citizens with the power of information and communication technology (ICT).

ICT has become an indispensable part of our daily life. It has the potential to streamline procedures, inculcate discipline among workforce, and bring transparency and accountability and reduction of costs. The benefits are tremendous provided we have the will, insight and knowledge to use it.

E-governance in India is in its infancy stage. The National E-Governance Plan (NEGP) is the umbrella under which all e-governance initiatives are taking place. However, there are very few successful and completed e-governance initiatives like MCA21 in India. Whether it is e-courts, e-readiness, legal enablement of ICT systems, e-gazette, e-commerce etc none are even close to success. So where lies the problem?

Firstly, there seems to be lack of insight among the policy-makers. The ICT polices and strategies of India are not covering the e-governance aspects at the national level. No political party ever considers e-governance as an important part of their political agenda before elections. Even commodities like onion and potatoes find place in national debates but not e-governance.

Secondly, there is too much stress upon procurement as opposed to management. India has to accept that computerization of traditional governmental and public functions is not e-governance. We have to empower the citizens with the power of ICT. We have to make the governmental services user-friendly as well as productive and easy.

Thirdly, there is lack of transparency in governmental dealing and in the absence of the same e-governance is just paperwork. In India, we have the Right to Information Act, 2005 but the same has been a failure in India. The public information officers keep on denying the relevant information on flimsy grounds. In exceptional cases, citizens may get some information but by and large very few people get the information.

Fourthly, accountability among governmental officers is missing. There is no mechanism through which we can punish a wrong doer for his violations and negligence. This results in a casual attitude towards public good and e-governance. If we fix accountability and time-bound progress requirements then a lot of problems can be solved.

Fifthly, public participation in both policy making and governmental decisions is missing. If we get the opinion of those who are somehow surviving at the grassroots level we can solve the majority of our problems. However, the fact is that grassroots level problems are never solved.

E-governance will be successful only if we start to undertake due efforts to implement it in all blocks and districts and spread it to the grass root level. Being the largest democratic country, India must show an example to other in this context.

But in last many years we have not seen the efficiency of public servants, who are supposed to be the some of the best brain of India. For attaining developed status our public service system must work in a better way. Citizen must participate in various activities, if we really want to see India as a developed nation. Public service must be strengthened in India in true spirit, if we want to become to become a developed nation in near future.