E-Governance

E-GOVERNANCE

To prepare for GOVERNANCE  for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about E-Governance. It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the Governance syllabus (GS-II.). E-Governance terms are important from Governance perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams. Even these topics are also highly linked with current affairs. Almost every question asked from them is related to current events. So, apart from standard textbooks, you should rely on newspapers and news analyses as well for these sections.

 

  • The ‘e’ in e-Governance stands for ‘electronic’. According to the 2nd Administrative Reform Commission (ARC) Report: e-Governance is basically associated with carrying out the functions and achieving the results of governance through the utilisation of what has today come to be known as ICT (Information and Communication Technology).
  • UNESCO – “e-Governance may be understood as the performance of governance via the electronic medium in order to facilitate an efficient, speedy and transparent process of disseminating information to the public, and other agencies, and for performing government administration activities.”
  • World Bank – “E-Governance refers to the use by government agencies of information technologies (such as Wide Area Networks, the Internet, and mobile computing) that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses and other arms of government.
  • These technologies can serve a variety of different ends:
  • Better delivery of government services to citizens
  • Improved interactions with business and industry
  • Citizen empowerment through access to information or
  • More efficient government management.
  • The broad goals of the e-Governance are:
  • Better service delivery to the citizens
  • Ushering in transparency and accountability
  • Empowering people through information
  • Improved efficiency within Government
  • Improved interference with business and industry
Potential of e-governance
  • Fast, Convenient and Cost-Effective Service Delivery: With the advent of e-Service delivery, the government can provide information and services at lesser costs, in reduced time and with greater convenience.
  • Transparency, Accountability and Reduced Corruption: Dissemination of information through ICT increases transparency, ensures accountability and prevents corruption. An increased use of computers and web-based services improves the awareness levels of citizens about their rights and powers. It helps to reduce the discretionary powers of government officials and curtail corruption.
  • Expanded Reach of Governance: Expansion of telephone network, rapid strides in mobile telephony, spread of internet and strengthening of other communications infrastructure would facilitate delivery of number of public services.
  • Empowering people through information: Increased accessibility to information has empowered the citizens and has enhanced their participation. With easy access to the government services, the faith of the citizens in the government increases and they come forward to share their views and feedback.
  • Improve interface with Business and Industry: Industrial development in India has been hampered in the past with complex procedures and bureaucratic delays. E-governance aims to expedite the various processes important for industrial development.
Interactions in E-Governance:
  • E-Governance services can be shared between citizens, businessman, government and employees. These four models of e-governance are:- Government to citizen (G2C), Government to government (G2G), Government to businessmen (G2B) and Government to employees (G2E).

Government to Citizen (G2C):-

  • It allows citizens to access government information and services promptly, conveniently, from everywhere, by use of multiple channels.
  • Expands the accessibility and availability of government services and also improves the quality of services.
  • Some of government to citizen services are:
  • Government services like direct benefit transfer for Kerosene and PDS, information regarding APMC, e-NAM, information regarding soil health, meteorological information during monsoon period, etc. can be provided to all farmers.
  • Health care services like e-Mamta (mother and child tracking system) by the Government of Gujarat, e-Aushadhi by the Rajasthan Government, etc.
  • Educational services like Swayam, Swayam Prabha, National Academic Depository, National Digital Library, MOOC Online courses, etc.
  • Transport aspects that can be easily e-governed include: Registration of motor vehicles, Issue of driving licenses, Issue of plying permissions (Permits), Tax and fee collection through Cash and Bank Challans and Control of Pollution.

Government to Government (G2G):

  • This model refers to the services which are shared between the governments.
  • In this interaction, Information and Communications Technology is used to reorganise the governmental processes involved in the functioning of government entities as well as to increase the flow of information and services within and between different entities.
  • Main intent of this interaction is to increase efficiency, performance, and output.
  • Some of government to government services are:
  • Government is trying to create a Secretariat by equipping officials with IT enabled systems which aid their day to day activities. Example: E-Secretariat in Rajasthan.
  • In an e-democracy the Government informs the citizen, represents the citizen, encourages the citizen to vote, consults the citizen and engages the citizen in the Governance.
  • Under E-Police various state police departments are trying to leverage the usage of ICT in order to reduce the crime rates. Example: The Delhi Police have come out with a slew of mobile and web-based apps to make the force more people- friendly like Himmat, an app that a woman can use in case of distress to send SOS alerts and even audio-video feeds if caught in a situation where there is threat to their safety.

Government to Businessmen (G2B):

  • In this type of interaction, e-Governance tools are used to help the business organizations that provide goods and services to seamlessly interact with the government.
  • They share information through this model like:
  • Collection of taxes
  • Rejection and approval of patent
  • Payment of all kind of bills and penalty
  • Sharing of all kind of information, rules and data
  • Complaints or any kind of dissatisfaction can be expressed
  • Some government to businessmen services are – Defence E-Procurement Portal, Government e-Marketplace (GeM), etc.

Government to Employees (G2E):

  • The aim of this relationship is to serve employees and offer some online services such as applying online for an annual leave, checking the balance of leave, and reviewing salary payment records, among other things.
  • This model increases the transparency between government and its employees and thus strengthens their relationship.
Importance Of E-Governance:
  • Governance of a highly populated country like India through traditional methods and techniques has become very difficult and hampers efficiency. E-governance brings in simplicity, efficiency and accountability in government and also extends reach of effective governance to a larger population.
  • The emergence of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has provided means for faster and better communication, efficient storage, retrieval and processing data and exchange and utilization of information to its users, be they individuals, groups, businesses, organizations or governments.
  • Increases efficiency and effectiveness of government processes and aids the emergence of the digital citizen.
  • Industrial development in India has been hampered in the past with complex procedures and bureaucratic delays. E-governance aims to expedite the various processes important for industrial development.
  • An increased use of computers and web-based services improves the awareness levels of citizens about their rights and powers. It helps to reduce the discretionary powers of government officials and curtail corruption.
  • Most of the Government expenditure is appropriated towards the cost of stationary. Paper-based communication needs lots of stationary, printers, computers, etc. which calls for continuous heavy expenditure. The Internet and Phones make communication cheaper, saving valuable money for the Government.
Challenges With E-Governance:
  • Lack of information on the Human resource requirements to support the central and state e Governance mission.
  • Non-availability of specific standards, policy guidelines for e-Governance.
  • Inaccessibility: An e-government site that provides web-based access and support often does not offer the potential to reach many users including those who live in the remote areas, have low literacy levels and exist on poverty line incomes.
  • Cost: In developing countries like India, cost is one of the most important obstacles in the path of implementation of e-governance projects. A huge amount of money is involved in implementation, operational and evolutionary maintenance tasks.
  • Privacy and Security: A critical obstacle in implementing e-Governance is the privacy and security of an individual’s personal data that he/she provides to obtain government services.
  • Lack of thrust on institutional capacity building in the domain of e-Governance.
  • In-adequate expertise and skills within the state training institutions to lead training programs at the policy maker level.
  • Interoperability: Interoperability is the ability of systems and organizations of different qualities to work together. The e-Governance applications must have this characteristic so that the newly developed and existing applications can be implemented together.
  • Local language: The e-governance applications must be written in the local language of the people so that they may be able to use and take advantage of these applications.
  • Maintenance Issue: As the Information Technology changes very fast and it is very difficult for us to update our existing systems very fast. Maintenance is a key factor for long living systems in a rapidly changing technical environment.
  • Digital Divide: In India only 30% population have internet connection. The Digital divide also shows grim picture of gender gap in internet access. Only 29% women have access to internet.
  • Resistance to Change: Both bureaucracy and people show status quoist nature to adopt new things and e-governance is not an exception to this.

Suggestions For E-Governance:

  • e-Governance through regional languages is necessary for nations like India where people from several linguistic backgrounds are the participants.
  • Increasing awareness about internet and its usage.
  • Reducing digital illiteracy by investing in digital education.
  • Strengthening digital infrastructure

Some of recommendations given by 2nd ARC are:

  • Governmental forms, processes and structures should be redesigned to make them adaptable to e-Governance, backed by procedural, institutional and legal changes.
  • Each government organization should prepare a time bound plan for providing transactional information through their websites.
  • Evaluation of success or failure of e-Governance projects may be done by independent agencies on the basis of parameters fixed
  • Public-Private partnership should be promoted in several components of e-Governance projects.
  • Gram Panchayats should be involved in monitoring the operation of the Common Service Centres in the first four years of their operation.
  • Union and State Governments should take proactive measures for establishing Knowledge Management Systems as a pivotal step for administrative reforms in general and e- Governance in particular.
  • Develop a national e-Governance ‘enterprise architecture’ framework as has been done in some countries.
  • Developing Technological Solutions: Develop a national e-Governance ‘enterprise architecture’ framework as has been done in some countries.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Monitoring of e-Governance projects should be done by the implementing organization during implementation. It should be done in the manner in which project monitoring is done for large infrastructure projects.
  • A hybrid approach needs to be adopted for enhancing interoperability among e-governance applications which will encompass a centralised approach for document management, knowledge management, file management, grievance management etc.
E-Governance Initiatives in India:
  • The Government of India is implementing the ‘Digital India’ programme with the vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. Digital India is an umbrella programme that covers multiple Government Ministries and Departments and is being coordinated by MeitY (the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology).
  • Various e-Governance initiatives taken by Government under Digital India programme are as follows:
    • Under the National e-Governance Action Plan (NeGP) which is now subsumed under Digital India, core infrastructure components are being implemented such as:
  • State Data Centres (SDCs),
  • State Wide Area Networks (SWANs),
  • Common Services Centres (CSCs),
  • State e-Governance Service Delivery Gateway (SSDGs),
  • e-District and Capacity Building
  • e-Kranti (Electronic delivery of services): The focus of the e-Kranti is to transform the e-Governance services by expanding the portfolio of Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) in e-Governance under various Government Departments, undertaking Government Process Reengineering (GPR), work flow automation, introducing latest technologies such as Cloud and mobile platform and focus on integration of services.
Following are some of the successful e-governance initiatives which are being implemented in India.
G2C Initiatives:

 

•        Computerisation of Land Records (Department of Land Resources): A pilot project on computerisation of Land Records, which was 100% centrally-sponsored started in1994-95 onwards.

•        Bhoomi Project in Karnataka (Online Delivery of Land Records): Bhoomi is a self-sustainable e-Governance project for the computerised delivery of 20 million rural land records to 6.7 million farmers.

•        Gyandoot (Madhya Pradesh): It is an Intranet-based service delivery with the twin objective of providing relevant information to the rural population and acting as an interface between the district administration and the people. The services offered through the Gyandoot network include: daily agricultural commodity rates (mandibhav), income certificate, public grievance redressal, BPL family list etc.

•        Lokvani Project in Uttar Pradesh: Its objective is to provide a single window, self-sustainable- Governance solution with regard to handling of grievances, land record maintenance and providing a mixture of essential services.

•        Project FRIENDS in Kerala: FRIENDS (Fast, Reliable, Instant, Efficient Network for the Disbursement of Services) is a Single Window Facility providing citizens the means to pay taxes and other financial dues to the State Government.

•        MyGov: It aims to establish a link between Government and Citizens towards meeting the goal of good governance. MyGov encourages citizens as well as people abroad to participate in various activities i.e. ‘Do’, ‘Discuss’, ‘Poll’, ‘Talk’, ‘Blog’, etc.

•        Digi Locker : It serves as a platform to enable citizens to securely store and share their documents with service providers who can directly access them electronically.

G2B Initiatives:

 

•        e-Procurement Project in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat: To reduce the time and cost of doing business, to realise better value for money spent through increased competition and to standardise procurement processes across government departments, this project was started.

•        SWIFT initiative: As a part of the “Ease of Doing Business” initiatives, the Central Board of Excise & Customs, has taken up implementation of the Single Window Project to facilitate the Trading Across Borders in India. The Single Window Interface for Trade (SWIFT), would reduce interface with Governmental agencies, dwell time and the cost of doing business.

G2G Initiatives:

 

•        Khajane Project in Karnataka: The project has resulted in the computerisation of the entire treasury related activities of the State Government and the system has the ability to track every activity right from the approval of the State budget to the point of rendering accounts to the government.
Recommendations of 2nd ARC on e-governance:
  • Building a Congenial Environment: Building a congenial environment is a sine-qua-non for successful implementation of e-Governance initiatives. This should be achieved by:
  • Creating and displaying a will to change within the government
  • Providing political support at the highest level
  • Incentivising e-Governance
  • Creating awareness in the public with a view to generating a demand for change.
  • Business Process Re-engineering: Governmental forms, processes and structures should be redesigned to make them adaptable to e-Governance, backed by procedural, institutional and legal changes.
  • Capacity Building and Creating Awareness: Capacity building efforts must attend to both the organisational capacity building as also the professional and skills up gradation of individuals associated with the implementation of e-Governance projects.
  • Developing Technological Solutions: Develop a national e-Governance ‘enterprise architecture’ framework as has been done in some countries.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Monitoring of e-Governance projects should be done by the implementing organization during implementation. It should be done in the manner in which project monitoring is done for large infrastructure projects.
  • Public-Private Partnership (PPP): Several components of e-Governance projects lend themselves to the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode. In all such cases (PPP) should be the preferred mode. The private partner should be selected through a transparent process. The roles and responsibilities of government as well as the private partner should be clearly laid
  • down in the initial stage itself, leaving no room for any ambiguity.
  • Protecting Critical Information Infrastructure Assets: There is need to develop a critical information infrastructure assets protection strategy. This should be supplemented with improved analysis and warning capabilities as well as improved information sharing on threats and vulnerabilities.
  • The Common Support Infrastructure: The State Data Centres (SDCs) should be maintained by Government agencies such as NIC as it involves handling of sovereign data. Further, all data centres at the State level should be subsumed in the SDCs.
  • Mission Mode Project on Computerisation of Land Records: Surveys and measurements need to be carried out in a mission mode utilising modern technology to arrive at a correct picture of land holdings, land parcels and rectification of outdated maps. This needs to be accompanied by an analysis of the existing mechanism for updating land records – which varies from State to State – to be supplanted by an improved and strengthened mechanism which ensures that all future transactions in titles are immediately reflected in the land records.
  • Legal Framework for e-Governance: A clear road map with a set of milestones should be outlined by Government of India with the ultimate objective of transforming the citizen government interaction at all levels to the e-Governance mode by 2020.
  • Knowledge Management: Union and State Governments should take proactive measures for establishing Knowledge Management systems as a pivotal step for administrative reforms in general and e-Governance in particular.
Digital Dividends
  • Growth, jobs and services are the most important returns to digital investments. By reducing information costs, digital technologies greatly lower the cost of economic and social transactions for firms, individuals, and the public sector.
  • They promote innovation when transaction costs fall to essentially zero. They boost efficiency as existing activities and services become cheaper, quicker, or more convenient. And they increase inclusion as people get access to services that previously were out of reach.
  • In India, it is expected that wide scale use of digital technologies would usher good governance, bring ease of doing business, create India as knowledge economy and empower people of India, especially vulnerable section of society.
  • However, the World Bank in its recent report highlighted that digital dividends are not spreading rapidly.
  1. Almost 063 billion Indians are offline and they cannot participate in the digital economy in meaningful way.
  2. There exist digital divides across gender, geography, age, and income dimensions.
  3. Approximately 40% population is living below poverty line, illiteracy rate is more than 25-30% and digital literacy is almost no-existent among more than 90% of India’s population.
  • Not surprisingly, the better educated, well connected, and more capable have received most of the benefits – circumscribing the gains from the digital revolution.

What can be done reap digital dividends?

 

  • Making the internet universally accessible and affordable should be a global priority.
  • Rapidly expand digital infrastructure and ensure its cyber security to imbibe confidence for digital technologies among people of India
  • To maximize the digital dividends requires better understanding of how technology interacts with other factors that are important for development
  • The “digital Economy” also requires a strong foundation consisting of regulations, that create a vibrant business climate and let firms leverage digital technologies to compete and innovate; skills that allow workers, entrepreneurs, and public servants to seize opportunities in the digital world; and accountable institutions that use the internet to empower citizens.
Ease of Governance:
  • The idea of ease of governance was mooted very recently by the Minister of Personnel, Public Grievances and pensions.
  • As per this idea, the main aim of e-governance should be ‘ease of governance’ leading to ‘ease of living’ of people. This is essential for the emergence of a ‘New India’.

 

  • “Ease of Governance” essentially means “Ease of access to governance where public policies are people centric with empathetic and responsive government mechanism with ear on the ground and connects far more effectively”.
  • One example of such governance is swift move by the Ministry of aviation to ask airline operators to do away with high cancellation fee on flight booking. Cancellation fee up to Rs. 3000 were quite high and even sometimes, more than actual cost of the ticket.
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