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Information and Communication Technology in India’s Public Service Delivery

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By B.Ramalingam
September 25, 2015 

Introduction

Information and communication technology (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.

Information and communication technology is one of the most democratic tools. For clear visibility, e-governance is essential. In our information rich environment, we need to finds ways to improve information sharing. We have to change our perspective.

From India’s perspective, things are yet to be changed. We are deprived from information and hence, the real motive of public service is never fulfilled. The country would prosper only if complete transparency and the flow of information is ensured by the government.

Much has been written about the application and advances of ICT in the field of governance or public management. This application of ICT has brought new hope of the potential benefits accruing out of these applications. India, even with its stiff bureaucracy and rigid governance structure, has been strangely at the forefront of this new development especially among the South Asia nations.

Among developing countries, India has been an early adopter of e-governance. The first wave can be considered to have evolved bottom-up. Some social entrepreneurs convinced district level officials of the wonders of new ICTs, especially in providing convergent services to remote areas and improving transparency and oversight in this regard. 

E- governance practices

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 website and email. It is not just about service delivery over the Internet. It is not only digital access to government information or electronic payments

E-governance 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 and participate in policymaking. The e-governance will reflect their true needs and welfare by utilizing e-government as a tool.

E-governance: A powerful tool for development

The “e” in e-governance stands for ‘electronic.’ Thus, e-governance is associated with carrying out the functions and achieving the results of governance through the utilization of ICT. E- governance relates to safeguarding the legal rights of all citizens. An equally important aspect is concerned with ensuring equitable access to public services and the benefits of economic growth to all. E- governance causes government to be transparent in its dealings, accountable for its activities and faster in its responses as part of good governance.

Initiatives in the field of e- governance

  • Computerization of land records in collaboration with NIC. Ensuring that landowners get computerized copies of ownership, crop and tenancy and updated copies of records of rights on demand.
  • Bhoomi Project and the online delivery of land records. This project focused on the computerized delivery of 20 million rural land records to 6.7 million farmers, through 177 government-owned kiosks in the State of Karnataka.
  • Gyandoot Project. An intranet-based government to citizen (G2C) service delivery initiative. Initiated in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh in January 2000. This project has the twin objectives of providing relevant information to the rural population and acting as an interface between the district administration and the people.
  • Project FRIENDS in Kerala: FRIENDS stands for Fast, Reliable, Instant, Efficient Network for the Disbursement of Services. It is a single window facility allowing citizens to pay taxes and other financial dues to the state government. The services are provided through FRIENDS Janasevana Kendrams located in the district headquarters.
  • e-Seva (Andhra Pradesh). This project is designed to provide ‘government to citizen’ and ‘e-business to citizen’ services. The highlight of this project is that all services are delivered online to consumers /citizens by connecting them to the respective government departments and providing online information at the point of service delivery.
  • Smart Gov (Andhra Pradesh): Smart Gov has been developed to streamline operations, enhance efficiency through workflow automation and knowledge management for implementation in the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat.

Conclusion

We have seen how the concept of e-governance has evolved in India and how much it is required for transparency and accountability on the part of government. At the same time, it is also a way to increase citizen participation in policymaking by empowering them with the right information at right time. It gives a ray of hope to the citizens of India to tackle the long persisting problems of poverty, corruption, regional disparity and unemployment. Al though there is a criticism on e- governance practice, the e policy and practices in India improved service delivery and saved time and cost of citizen.


Author: Dr. B.Ramalingam  is a faculty member in the Department of Public  Administration at Telangana University, India.

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