E-governance in India: Applications, Models, Successes, Limitations, and Potential
- The rise of e-government has been one of the most striking developments of the web Global shifts towards increased deployment of IT by governments emerged in the nineties, with the advent of the World Wide Web.
- The technology as well as e-governance initiatives have come a long way since then. Recognizing the increasing importance of electronics, the Government of India established the Department of Electronics in 1970.
- The subsequent establishment of the National Informatics centre (NIC) in 1977 was the first major step towards e-Governance in India as it brought‘information’ and its communication in focus. However, the main thrust for e-Governance was provided by the launching of NIcNET in 1987– the national satellite-based computer network.
- This was followed by the launch of the District Information System of the National Informatics centre (DISNIc) program to computerize all district offices in theCountry for which free hardware and software was offered to the State Governments. NIcNET was extended via the State capitals to all district headquarters by 1990.
- E-governance may be defined as delivery of government services andinformation to the public using electronic means. Such means of delivering information is often referred to as Information Technology or ‘IT’.
- Use of IT in government facilities is an efficient, speedy and transparent process for disseminating information to the public and other agencies, and for performing government administration activities.
- The term governance may be described as the process by which society steers itself.
- In this process, the interactions among the State, Private Enterprise and Civil Society are being increasingly conditioned and modified through the influence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), constituting the phenomenon of e-Governance. E-Governance is thus a wider concept than e-Government, which is the use of ICT’s in the dissemination of services of government.
- In this process, it is crucial that the capacity of government to be open to criticism as well as the application of a new social contract, between all stakeholders, confirming a shared responsibility on the transformation process.
- So, the effectiveness of ICT in government is closely related with the capacity of governments to induce a culture of change placing networking within its institutions as instrumental to transparency and knowledge exchange and creation. It forces a rethinking of the way hierarchical structures are placed.
- The transition to a more horizontal government structure, where integration of functions plays a greater role, takes time since the main players need to change attitudes and behavior as they acquire new skills and knowledge that make them confident in the work culture.
- There is a close relationship between levels of infrastructure development, education, democratization, political leadership and commitment to the principles of good governance and thelevel and quality of e-Governance implanted in the countries. These are strong indicators of e-readiness and the opportunity cost of such endeavor.
- The resulting benefit can be less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience, efficiency, revenue growth, and or cost reductions, as well as increased legitimacy.
There are four pillars of E-Governance
- CONNECTIVITY:-Connectivity is required to connect the people to the services of the government. There should be a strong connectivity for an effective e-governance.
- KNOWLEDGE: - Here knowledge refers to IT knowledge. Government should employ skill full engineers who can handle the e-governance in an efficient way. These engineers also handle all kind of fault that may occur during the working of e governance. It also implies fostering ICT awareness among citizens through sustained efforts.
- DATA CONTENT: - To share any kind of knowledge or information over the internet, there should be its database. This database should have the data content which is related to government services.
- CAPITAL:-Capital can be on public or private partnership. It refers to money used by government to provide their services or to that sector of the economy based on its operation.
- Policymaking, budgets, accountability, decision making, and service delivery were all embedded within a vertically integrated delivery chain based on specific government functions. E-governance projects should be citizen centric and not technology centric.
- To improve citizen services, the government needs to collaborate as the major challenge is that each department works in silos with its own infrastructure data centres, network etc.
- Citizens and businesses want greater access to government information and services , with simpler processes, less paperwork, and more efficientinteractions. Citizens also expect flexible, convenient interactions, sophisticated online services, and prompt responses to their requests. Increasingly frustrated by complexity, the need to visit multiple locations, and the need to execute multiple transactions to satisfy simple requests, citizens now demand 24x7 access and rapid resolution.
- Another important consideration is social inclusion. By far, the poorest and most vulnerable groups are often the greatest users of government services. But these populations are the least equipped to use technology.
- The ultimate goals of implementing technology solutions are to free more resources, help socially excluded groups, and to eliminate the digital divide. Technology advances have opened up new possibilities and raised expectation about governments’ role and how governments should serve communities.
These factors include:
- Cloud computing as a viable ICT provisioning model and a way to reduce costs and deliver new services
- Social media to enhance and improve levels of participation and citizen satisfaction.
- Unique identity technologies enable greater degrees of inter-agency collaboration and information sharing. Open data and government data stores to allow much wider access to publishing and distributing public information.
Models of E-governance
E-GOVERNANCE services can be shared between citizens, businesshouse, government and employees. These four models of e-governance are as:-
- Government to citizens (G2C)
- Government to government (G2G)
- Government to employees (G2E)
- Government to businessman (G2B)
Government to citizens (G2C):- This model of e-governance refers to the government services which are shared by citizens. Here, citizens visit to the link of services that they want to use. This models strong the bond between government and its citizen. Type of services which are provided by this model includes:
- Payment of online bills such as electricity, water, telephone bills etc.
- Online registration of applications.
- Copies of land-record.
- Online filling of complaints.
- Availability of any kind of online information.
Some successful initiatives: Computerisation of Land Records (Department of Land Resources, Government of India): From 1994-95 onwards, it was implemented in collaboration with the NIc.
The main objectives of the scheme were:
- Ensuring that landowners get computerized copies of ownership, crop and tenancy and updated copies of Records of Rights (RoRs) on demand,Realizing low-cost and easily-reproducible basic land record data through reliable and durable preservation of old records,Ensuring accuracy, transparency and speedy dispute resolution,Facilitating fast and efficient retrieval of information for decision making ,
- According legal sanctity to computer-generated certificates of land records after authentication by the authorized revenue official,Setting up a comprehensive land information system for better land-based planning and utilization of land resources,Focusing on citizen-centric services related to land and revenue administration.
Bhoomi Project in Karnataka : Online Delivery of Land Records
- Bhoomi is a self-sustainable e-Governance project for the computerized delivery of 20 million rural land records to 6.7 million farmers through 177 Government-owned kiosks in the State of Karnataka.
- It was felt that rural land records are central conduits to delivering better IT-enabled services to citizens because they contain multiple data elements: ownership, tenancy, loans, nature of title, irrigation details, crops grown etc.
- In addition to providing the proof of title to the land, this land record is used by the farmer for a variety of purposes: from documenting crop loans and legal actions, to securing scholarships for school-children. To make the project self-sustaining and expandable, Bhoomi levies user charges.
Gyandoot (Madhya Pradesh)
- Gyandoot is an Intranet-based Government to citizen service delivery initiative. It was initiated in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh in January 2000 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 basic idea behind this project was to establish and foster a technologically innovative initiative which is owned and operated by the community itself. The services offered through the Gyandoot network includes Daily agricultural commodity rates (mandibhav),Income certificate,Domicile certificate, caste certificate, Public grievance redressal, Rural Hindi email,bPL family list,Rural Hindi newspaper.
LokvaniProject in Uttar Pradesh
- To achieve this, the programme format uses the local language, Hindi, and is spread throughout the district to a chain of LokvaniKiosk centres. These Kiosks have been established by licensing the already existing cyber cafes.
Project FRIENDS in Kerala
- iFRIENDS (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.
- It was launched in Thiruvananthapuram in June 2000 and replicated in other district headquarters during 2001-02.
- The services are provided through FRIENDS JanasevanaKendrams located in the district headquarters.
e-Mitra Project in Rajasthan
- This e-Governance initiative builds upon the experiences gained through the LokMitra and JanMitra pilot projects launched in 2002. While LokMitrawas centred in the city of Jaipur, JanMitra was piloted in Jhalawar district to provide information and services under one roof to urban and rural populations. e-Mitra is an integration of these two projects in all the 32 districts using PPP model.
- There are two major components – ‘back office processing’ and ‘service counters’. back office processing includes computerization of participating departments and establishing an IT enabled hub in form of a mini data centre at the district level (e-Mitra data centre).
- All participating departments and the service centres hook up to this data centre. It is managed by the Facility Management Service Provider on behalf of the district e-Governance Society (under chairmanship of the district collector). Private partners (Local Service Providers) run the kiosks/centres.
- The e-Mitra project has been chosen by the Government of Rajasthan to roll out the community Service centre project under NeGP.
Revenue Administration through computerized Energy (RAcE) billing Project, Bihar
- The Patna Electric Supply Undertaking (PESU), which is one of the seven area boards of the bihar State Electricity board (bSEb), caters to the energy requirements of thePatna Urban Area.
- The entire billing and payment process was manual and anomalies in the system were resulting in harassment to the consumers and loss of revenue to the board. The major problems which had cropped up in the system were irregular billing cycle, ineffective data management, lack of transparency and delayed accounting.
- To address these problems, it was decided by the BSEB to take the assistance of IcT in providing value added and consumer-friendly service to the clients. A separate department of IT was created inBSEBto implement the project and the software was designed by NIC.
Government to government (G2G):- This model refers to the services which are shared between the governments. There is lots of information that need to be shared between various government agencies, department and organizations. These types of services or information are as:-
- Sharing of information between police department of various state.
- Government document exchange which includes preparation, approval, distribution, and storage of all governmental documents is also done through e governance. Most of the finance and budget work are also done through e-governance.
Khajane Project in Karnataka
- It is a comprehensive online treasury computerization project of the Government of Karnataka. The project has resulted in the computerization 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.
- The project was implemented to eliminate systemic deficiencies in the manual treasury system.
SmartGov (Andhra Pradesh)
- The Andhra Pradesh Secretariat comprises a number of departments. The processing of information in the Government is predominantly workflow intensive. Information moves in the form of paper files from one officer to another for seeking opinions, comments, approvals etc.
- SmartGov has been developed to streamline operations, enhance efficiency through workflow automation and knowledge management for implementation in the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat. The solution automates the functioning of all levels of Government entities and provides a well defined mechanism for transforming the “hard copy environment” to a “digital environment”.
- It enhances productivity through use of IT as a tool. SmartGov replaces the paper file with an e-file. SmartGov provides the features of creation, movement, tracking and closure of e-files, automation of repetitive tasks, decision support system through knowledge management, prioritization of work, easy access to files through an efficient document management system and collaboration between departments.
Government to businessmen (G2B) - Through this model, bond between private sector and government increase and businessmen use to communicate. They share information through this model like:
- Collection of taxes.
- Rejection and approval of patent is also done by this model.
- 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 shown by this.
Some Key Initiatives
- e-Procurement Project in Andhra Pradesh
- Prior to the introduction of an e-Procurement system in Andhra Pradesh, procurement in Government departments was done through a manual tendering process.The Government of Andhra Pradesh introduced the e-Procurement project in 2003 with the objectives of to reduce the time and cost of doing business for both vendors and government,
- To realize better value for money spent through increased competition and the prevention of cartel formation, to standardize procurement processes across government departments/agencies,to increase buying power through demand aggregation to provide a single-stop shop for all procurements; and to allow equal opportunity to all vendors .In order to achieve these objectives, the entire e-Procurement process was designed to avoid human interface i.e., supplier and buyer interaction during the pre-bidding and post-bidding stages.
- The system now ensures total anonymity of the participating suppliers, even to the buyers, until the bids are opened on the platform. The e-Procurement application provides automatic bid evaluation based on the evaluation parameters given to the system. These improved processes have eliminated subjectivity in receipt and evaluation of bids and has reduced corruption to a significant extent.
- e-Procurement in Gujarat
- The system of e-procurement was introduced in the State of Gujarat from October 2004 onwards. Roll out of the system was carried out in a phased manner starting from few works/items for limited departments and was made compulsory for all government departments in 2007.
- The project was funded by the State Government with the objective of deriving the benefits of increased efficiency from e-enablement of business processes.It aims to establish transparency in procurement process, shortening of procurement cycle, availing of competitive price, enhancing confidence of suppliers and establishingflexible and economical bidding process for suppliers.
- The Ministry of corporate Affairs has implemented the MCA 21 Mission Mode Project under the NeGP in September 2006 and presently the project is in the post- implementation phase.
- The project aims at providing easy and secure online access to all registry related services provided by the Union Ministry of corporate Affairs to corporates and other stakeholders at any time and in a manner that best suits them. The goals of this project were formulated keeping in mind different stakeholders. These were:
- Business: to enable registration of a company and file statutory documents quickly and easily.
- Public: to get easy access to relevant records and effective grievances redressal.
- Professionals: to enable them to offer efficient services to their client companies.
- Financial Institutions: to easily find charges for registration and verification.
- Employees: to enable them to ensure proactive and effective compliance of relevant laws and corporate governance.
The MCA 21 is designed to automate processes related to the proactive enforcement and compliance of the legal requirements under the companies Act, 1956.
Government to employees (G2E):- This model increases the transparency between government and its employee. Here, employee can keeps a check on the functioning and working of government and government can keeps on its employees. Information that can be shared by this model:-
- All kind of data submission(attendance record, employee record etc) from various government offices is done by this model .
- Employee can file all kinds of complaints and dissatisfaction by this model.
- All kind of rule- regulation and information for employees can be shared by this.
- Employees can check their payment and working record.
- Employees can register all kind of working forms online.
NATIONAL E-GOVERNANCE PLAN
- The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) has been formulated by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY) and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG).
- The Union Government approved the NeGP, comprising of 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and 10 components on May 18, 2006.
- The NeGP aims at improving delivery of Government services to citizens and businesses with the following vision: "Make all Government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency & reliability of such services at affordable costs to realise the basic needs of the common man."
Implementation Strategy, Approach and Methodology of NeGP
Implementation of e-Governance is a highly complex process requiring provisioning of hardware & software, networking, process re-engineering and change management. Based on lessons learnt from the past and the experience from successful e-Governance applications, the approach and methodology adopted for NeGP contains the following elements:
- Common Support Infrastructure: NeGP implementation involves setting up of common and support IT infrastructure such as: State Wide Area Networks (SWANs), State Data Centres (SDCs), Common Services Centres (CSCs) and Electronic Service Delivery Gateways.
- Governance: Suitable arrangements for monitoring and coordinating the implementation of NeGP under the direction of the competent authorities have also been substantially put in place. The programme also involves evolving/ laying down standards and policy guidelines, providing technical support, undertaking capacity building, R&D, etc. DEITY is required to adequately strengthen itself and various institutions like NIC, STQC, CDAC, NISG, etc. to play these roles effectively.
- Centralised Initiative, Decentralised Implementation: e-Governance is being promoted through a centralised initiative to the extent necessary to ensure citizen-centric orientation, to realise the objective of inter-operability of various e-Governance applications and to ensure optimal utilisation of ICT infrastructure and resources while allowing for a decentralised implementation model. It also aims at identifying successful projects and replicating them with required customisation wherever needed.
- Public-Private Partnerships (PPP): PPP model is to be adopted wherever feasible to enlarge the resource pool without compromising on the security aspects.
- Integrative Elements: Adoption of unique identification codes for citizens, businesses and property is to be promoted to facilitate integration and avoid ambiguity.
- Programme Approach at the National and State levels: For implementation of the NeGP, various Union Ministries/Departments and State Governments are involved. Considering the multiplicity of agencies involved and the need for overall aggregation and integration at the national level, NeGP is being implemented as a programme, with well-defined roles and responsibilities of each agency involved. For facilitating this, appropriate programme management structures have also been put in place.
- Facilitator role of DEITY: DEITY is the facilitator and catalyst for the implementation of NeGP by various Ministries and State Governments and also provides technical assistance. It serves as a secretariat to the Apex Committee and assists it in managing the programme. In addition, DEITY is also implementing pilot/ infrastructure/ technical/ special projects and support components. DARPG’s responsibility is towards Government Process Re-engineering and Change Management, which are desired to be realised across all government departments. Planning Commission and Ministry of Finance allocate funds for NeGP through Plan and Non-plan budgetary provisions and lay down appropriate procedures in this regard.
- Ownership of Ministries: Under the NeGP, various MMPs are owned and spearheaded by the concerned line Ministries. In case there are any ongoing projects which fall in the MMP category, they would be suitably enhanced to align them with the objectives of NeGP. For major projects like Bharat Nirman, Rural Employment Guarantee Schemes, etc. the line ministries concerned are advised to make use of e-Governance as also automation techniques from the inception stage. States have been given the flexibility to identify a few additional state-specific projects, which are relevant for the economic development of the State.
PPP IN E GOVERNANCE
- Worldwide, PPPs are often essential to the efficient, speedy and sustainable design and delivery of e-government services and programmes. E-government initiatives in developing countries are constrained by lack of financial resources, low level of skills and capacity within governments, and the absence of incentive structures for rewarding performance – and the case in India seems to be no different.
- PPPs in e-government can help overcome many of these constraints, while at the same time increasing opportunities for the private sector.PPP can assume a wide spectrum of shapes like, BOO, BOOT (Build Own-Operate-Transfer), BOT for specified periods -otherwise called concession contracts, joint ventures, private finance initiative (PFI), partial privatisation through partnering with strategic investor etc.
- The idea is to arrive at the right combination of public sector accountability with private sector efficiencies and to also to share the risk correspondingly. To mitigate risk and ensure quality and performance levels of the private sectors, it is important to set standards. The Government of India is currently working on standards management and has various drafts prepared relating to inter-operability, technical and security standards.
- Experiences across the globe show that IT is one of the areas which is eminently suited for PPP – especially, in areas such as driving licenses, utility bill collections, management of land records etc.
- Investments in information technology by governments have an opportunity cost since there are limited resources of money, time and attention. Investing these in IT would explicitly deny such investments in other development areas like provision of water, sanitation, health, shelter, production technology and skills development. Investments in information technology have therefore to be made very strategically by governments.
- The Government of Andhra Pradesh, for instance, has focused its energies on creation of content and t and digitisation of databases so that transaction based services become attractive for private sector players. For example, in the case of the TWINS project after a successful demonstration of the pilot, private sector partners have been involved to provide services to citizens.
- In the case of infrastructure creation, government has leveraged assets like land for attracting private sector investments to set upfacilities like Hitec City. Similarly, the government has used the provision of a royalty free right of way for attracting investments into setting up high-speed optical fibrenetworks.
- The possible usage of such networks for e-government applications in the future has in turn enhanced their commercial viability.
The key challenges with electronic governance are not technology or internet issues but organizational issues like:
- Redefining rules and procedures
- Information transparency
- Legal issues
- Infrastructure, Skill and awareness
- Access to right information
- Interdepartmental collaboration
- Tendency to resist the change in work culture
The other set of challenges lie in extending the reach of e-Governance services to 70% of Indian population that lives in villages.
- Assessment of local needs and customizing e-Governance solutions to meet those needs
- Content (local content based on local language)
- Building Human Capacities
Lack of Integrated Services: Most of the E-Governance Services being offered by state or central governments are not integrated. This can mainly be attributed to Lack of Communication between different Departments. So the information that resides with one department has no or very little meaning to some other department of Government.
Lack of Key Persons: eGovernance projects lack key persons, not only from technological aspect, but from other aspects as well.
Population: This is probably the biggest challenge. Apart from being an asset to the country it offers some unique issues, an important one being Establishing Person Identities. There is no unique identity of a person in India. Apart from this, measuring the population, keeping the database of all Indian nationals (& keeping it updated) are some other related challenges.
Different Languages: A challenge due to the diversity of the country. It enforces need to do governance (upto certain level), in local languages. Ensuring eGovernance in local language is a big task to achieve.