E-Governance : The Way Ahead

    • By,
      Nirmal Ganesh – Student, Kautilya

In a vibrant multi-party democracy such as India, the party or coalition alliance which forms the government, make significant strides towards improving the governance model than their preceding governments. The concept of good governance broadly refers to the management of public affairs and public resources for the realization of human rights, effective implementation of the rule of law and ensuring transparency in governmental procedures.

Kofi Annan has described good governance as ensuring respect for human rights, strengthening democracy, promoting transparency and capacity in public administration. There are 8 principles of good governance enlisted by the UN Global and National Leadership in Good Governance which are accountability, transparency, responsiveness, equitable and inclusiveness, effectiveness and efficiency, rule of law, citizen participation, and consensus-oriented. These values are necessary for the effective administration of good services to the people. ‘E-Governance’ – electronic governance is a system of rendering government services and information to the public through electronic means.

E-governance has seen a phenomenal rise over the past few years due to the inefficacy of traditional systems to meet the needs of citizens. There has been a rise of new emergent models such as managerialism, new public management, market based administration.There has been greater partnership between the public sector and private entities to administer necessary facilities to citizens.

There is a rise in the system of public- private partnership as the traditional system was characterized by inefficiency and corruption. This systemic failure has led to models like “managerialism”, “new public management”, “market based public administration”, the “post bureaucratic paradigm” or “entrepreneurial government”.

There are five important factors in implementing e-governance: The primary barriers posed by the political class is the reluctance to adapt to change in terms of accepting new technologies. Social factors such as awareness of electronic services, willingness and trust of the citizens to make use of new technologies acts as an important factor enabling the usage of electronic services for governmental tasks. Sufficient incentives need to be provided for using digital platforms that are initiated by the government such as enabling accessibility to Information Communication Technology. Technological factors deal with providing compatible-standardized IT hardware for working seamlessly with other institutions. Organizational factors decide whether the employees in the government are willing to adopt this change or not. The last and the most important one is financial resources. Long-term investments in infrastructure are required to make e-governance a successful thing.

Rajiv Gandhi famously once said that “only 15 paise reaches the needy” and the reason for this unjust practice is the pervasive nature of corruption at every level of the government. This has been the problem in serving the welfare schemes to the poor of our country since ages. In order to counter this practice the government of India has brought a new system where beneficiaries will get the funds deposited to their bank accounts directly. This has been only made possible due to the Jan dhan-Aadhar- Mobile Trinity. This arrangement was used to transfer funds directly to beneficiaries during the pandemic. This is illustrative of the interplay of e-governance and good governance.

There are four types of interactions in the e-governance sphere: 1) Government to Government 2)Government to Business 3) Government to Citizens 4) Government to Employees. India has witnessed a rise in the application of e-governance since the early 2000s till now. Its usage has evolved and its importance in government policymaking has increased. In 2014, the government of India came up with e-governance 2.0 named E-Kranti aiming to include e-governance in all the departments. The plan is ambitious and aims to revolutionize the governance structure and aims to introduce significant developments in education and healthcare sector.

Recently, PM Modi has iterated how technology is helping governance to fight poverty. According to the United Nations E-government survey 2022 India ranks at 105th rank. India’s performance has significantly dropped from 96th in 2018 to 105th in 2022. The report gives a recommendation that India should increase its investment in building essential infrastructure like fibre optic, data centres, service delivery gateways etc. for aiding the development of it’s e-governance program. Some states like Tamil Nadu are also investing in their e-governance infrastructure. States and the Central Governement must play a proactive role together to increase the rankings in the UN Survey as a first step towards promoting electronic government services.

During the Covid – 19 Pandemic, the Government of India has introduced several initiatives like e-vidya, Diksha, Swayam Prabha TV, Vidyadaan, and E-Pathshala. E-vidya is a comprehensive plan to unify digital and online education and provide multi modal access. Diksha is an online knowledge-sharing platform to help students access online lessons and free NCERT textbooks. Swayam Prabha runs educational content on 32 television channels. Vidyadaan is an initiative to get donations from private players and educational institutions to fund the infrastructure for online education. Overall, 25 crore people have benefited from these initiatives.

The synergy of health care service providers and technology has also generated positive impact. E-hospital is an initiative introduced by the Government of India introduced for the purpose of administering services such as laboratory services, documentation of medical receipts..This mix of governance and technology with the principles of good governance is a good example of how e-governance is an enabler of good governance.

To enable the administration of public utilities in a more transparent and efficient manner it is required that the government makes judicious use of electronic governance platforms as well as to instill the public faith in the governance structure of the country.