Introduction

  • The “e” in e-Governance stands for ‘electronic’. Thus, e-Governance is basically associated with carrying out the functions and achieving the results of governance through the utilization of ICT (Information and Communications Technology).
  • While 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. It also ensures government to be transparent in its dealings, accountable for its activities and faster in its responses as part of good governance.
  • However, this would require the government to change itself – its processes, its outlook, laws, rules and regulations and also its way of interacting with the citizens. It would also require capacity building within the government and creation of general awareness about e-Governance among the citizens.

Information –Communication Technology (ICT)

  • Provides efficient storing and retrieval of data, instantaneous transmission of information, processing information and data faster than the earlier manual systems, speeding up governmental processes, taking decisions expeditiously and judiciously, increasing transparency and enforcing accountability.
  • It also helps in increasing the reach of government – both geographically and demographically.
  • In India, 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) programme to computerize all district offices in the country 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. In the ensuing years, with ongoing computerization, tele-connectivity and internet connectivity established a large number of e-Governance initiatives, both at the Union and State levels.

Stages of e-Governance

  • With respect to India, e-Governance proceeded through the following phases:

A) Computerisation

  • This first phase was characterized by the use of computers in a large number of Government offices.

B) Networking

  • In this phase, few government organizations got connected through a hub which facilitated sharing of information and flow of data between different government entities.

C) On-line presence

  • In this phase, the government entities began to maintain websites containing information about the organizational structure, contact details, reports and publications, objectives and vision statements.

D) On-line interactivity

  • Online interactivity began between government entities and the citizens, civil society organizations etc. It also minimized the scope of personal interface with government entities by providing downloadable Forms, Instructions, Acts, Rules etc.

Types of Interactions in e-Governance

A) G2G (Government to Government)

  • This kind of interaction and flow of information and services are within the sphere of government and can be both horizontal (between different government agencies) and vertical (between national, provincial and local government agencies as well as between different levels within the same organization)

B) G2C (Government to Citizens)

  • This kind of interaction is between the government and citizens. It helps in efficient delivery of a large range of public services and also increases the quality of services. The citizens enjoy the choice of when, how and from where to interact with the government. Its purpose is to promote citizen-friendly approach and expand the availability and accessibility of public services.

G2B (Government to Business)

  • This kind of interaction is between the government and the business community. Here, e-Governance tools are used to aid the providers of goods and services. The primary objective is to decrease red tapes, save time and reduce operational bottlenecks. The G2B initiatives can be transactional, promotional and facilitative such as in licensing, permits, procurement and revenue collection, trade, tourism and investment.

C) G2E (Government to Employees)

  • This kind of interaction is between the government and the employees as the Government is by far the biggest employer. This interaction is a two-way process aimed at increasing the satisfaction levels of employees.

Key initiatives

A) Government to Citizen (G2C) Initiatives:

 

  • 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 (RoRs) on demand.
  • Bhoomi Project: Online delivery of Land Records. 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
  • Gyandoot: It is an Intranet-based Government to Citizen (G2C) 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. 
  • Lokvani Project in Uttar Pradesh: Lokvani is a public-private partnership project at Sitapur District in Uttar Pradesh which was initiated in November, 2004. Its objective is to provide a single window, self-sustainable e-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.The services are provided through FRIENDS Janasevana Kendrams located in the district headquarters. 
  • e-Mitra Project in Rajasthan:e-Mitra is an integrated project to facilitate the urban and the rural masses with maximum possible services related to different state government departments through Lokmitra-Janmitra Centers/Kiosks.
  • e-Seva (Andhra Pradesh): This project is designed to provide ‘Government to Citizen’ and ‘e-Business to Citizen’ services. The highlight of the eSeva project is that all the 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. 
  • Admission to Professional Colleges – Common Entrance Test (CET):
    With the rapid growth in the demand as well as supply of professional education, the process of admission to these institutions became a major challenge in the early 1990s. Recourse was then taken to ICT to make the process of admission transparent and objective. One of the pioneering efforts was made by Karnataka. The State Government decided to conduct a common entrance test based on which admission to different colleges and disciplines was made.

B) Government to Business (G2B) Initiatives:

  • e-Procurement Project in Andhra Pradeshto reduce the time and cost of doing business for both vendors and government.
  • e-Procurement project in Gujaratto establish transparency in procurement process, shortening of procurement cycle, availing of competitive price among others.
  • MCA 21(Mission Mode Project under the NeGP launched in September 2006. It aims to provide easy and secure online access to all registry related services provided by the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs to corporates and other stakeholders)

 

  1. C) Government to Government (G2G) Initiatives: 
  • 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. 
  • SmartGov (Andhra Pradesh): SmartGov has been developed to streamline operations, enhance efficiency through workflow automation and knowledge management for implementation in the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat.

National e-Governance Plan

A) Project

  1. It comprises of 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and 10 components. Various MMPs are owned and spearheaded by the concerned ministries.
  2. Physical Architecture
    1. Data Centers
    2. NoFN  – 2Mbps network connectivity to each Panchayat.
    3. Kiosks at the front end. 1 for each 6 village cluster following honey comb structure. Kiosks to have a PC along with basic support equipment like printer, scanner and UPS.
  3. G2C Services to be Offered
    1. Land records
    2. Registration of vehicles
    3. Issue of certificates
    4. Employment exchange
    5. Ration cards
    6. Electoral services
    7. Pension schemes
    8. Issue of licenses
    9. Public grievance
  • Payment of bills

B) Mission Mode Projects

  1. MCA 21:The MMP is in its post-implementation stage and is providing electronic services to the Companies for their related activities such as allocation and change of name, incorporation, online payment of registration charges, change in address of registered office, viewing of public records and other related services. It also makes public the company related data.
  2. Pension:A website provides updated information on government pension rules and regulations; helps facilitating registration of grievances; enables monitoring timely sanction of pension; maintains a database of pensioners.
  3. Income Tax:It offers services including facility for downloading of various forms, online submission of applications for PAN, tracking the applications, e-filing of Income Tax Returns, e-filing of TDS returns, online payment of taxes, issue of refunds.
  4. Passport, Visa and Immigration:The e-services being offered under the MMP include re-issue of Passport, issue of duplicate Passport, issue of Tatkal Passport, change in name, address, ECNR/ ECR suspensions, passport status enquiry etc.
  5. Central Excise:The important e-services being offered include e-filing of Import and Export documentation, electronic processing of declarations, facilities for e-filing of Central Excise and Service Tax returns, e-registration services, digital signatures, e-payment of Customs Duties.
  6. Banking:It includes Electronic Central Registry and One India One Account for Public Sector Banks.
  7. e-Office:The functioning of government offices would be computerized.
  8. Insurance:The MMP is an industry initiative (by public sector insurance companies). The MMP aims at facilitating customer services, automating grievance redressal mechanism and, creating a database.

C) Integrated MMPs

  1. e-Courts:The first phase includes building computer infrastructure in the lower courts and upgrading it at High Courts and the Supreme Court. The second phase of the MMP includes providing services like availability of copies of judgments, e-filing of cases, video conferencing of outstation witnesses, issue of notices to clients through e-mail.
  2. Electronic Data Interchange/e-Trade (EDI):It aims at facilitating electronic data interchange amongst various agencies involved in the process of imports and exports. It  offers services like electronic filing and clearance of EXIM documents and e-Payments of duties.
  3. India Portal:It provides a single window access to information about governments at all levels, in a multilingual form.
  4. e-Procurement:This MMP of the Ministry of Commerce aims at rolling-out IT-enabled procurement by government departments.
  5. Road Transport:This MMP proposes to offer many e-Services like vehicle registration, driving licenses and Smart Card based registration certificates to citizens.
  6. Agriculture:The MMP aims at providing information regarding farm practices, market trends, agricultural and technical know-how. It has two components i.e. AGRISNET and AGMARKNET. AGMARKNET aims at creating an information network which will capture/update information at various mandis. AGRISNET aims at back-end computerization of State Agriculture departments
  7. e-District:This MMP aims at delivery of high volume, citizen-centric services through kiosks. These would primarily be services not covered by other specific MMPs. A minimum of 7 services will be delivered in every State.

D) Analysis of NeGP

  1. The Institutional Structure
    1. It has become essential to ensure that the numerous projects being implemented by the different governments and departments are consistent with a broad policy and adhere to common standards.
    2. This requires empowered institutional arrangements to oversee the projects.
  2. Role of local governments
    1. There is no role for the local governments in the implementation of the plan and not even at kiosk level.
    2. Monitoring bodies of elected local body representatives should be set up to monitor the implementation of the plan.
    3. PRIs should also spread awareness among the people about the services being offered and encourage them to utilize them.
  3. Business process restructuring and capacity building issues
    1. The MMPs have the potential of creating a direct impact on citizens since they provide high volume G2C services. Unfortunately, these are the very sectors where progress in implementation is lagging.
    2. The most critical bottleneck is delay in business process restructuring and insufficient capacity building.
    3. The large scale of the transactions involved, prevalence of outdated and cumbersome procedures, inertia and resistance to change, the overhang of old and outdated records are other issues.
  4. Project management issues
    1. There is lack of clear demarcation of responsibility among the project authorities
    2. Most of the State level e-Governance projects are still at the conceptual stage.
    3. Many of the projects have pre-maturely gone ahead with the ICT component without first prioritizing the governance reforms that are a pre-requisite. This would result in automation of the existing inefficiencies in the system .

E) Status of Implementation

  1. Status of MMPs:Out of the 31 MMPs, 14 MMPs are delivering the full range of services while 9 have started delivering some services to the citizens.
  2. e-TAAL:It is a web portal which aggregates and analyses the statistics of e-governance projects including MMPs on a real time basis. It is expected to enhance the outcome focus of e-Governance programs.
  3. Mobile Seva:It is a unique countrywide initiative on mobile governance to provide public services to the citizens through mobile phones. As on date, 444 departments are on it offering over 200 services. A mobile AppStore has also been launched with 153 applications.
  4. NoFN:Pilot has been conducted and rollout is in progress.
  5. e-Gov AppStore:It will host successful e-governance applications which can be replicated by all government departments intending to implement e-Gov initiatives, thereby saving immense time and costs.
  6. e-Procurement:All departments have been directed to switch over to it.
  7. Meghraj:This is the new Government of India cloud (GI Cloud) computing environment to be created at the national level. It will bring the benefits of cloud computing.
  8. National e-Governance Academy:To promote research, documentation, training, this academy will be opened.

M-governance

  • M-Governance is not a replacement for e-Governance, rather it complements e- Governance. M-Governance, is the use of mobile or wireless to improve Governance service and information “anytime, anywhere”. Mobile applications also rely on good back office ICT infrastructure and work processes. It has potential of using mobile phones as input devices in certain areas where last mile connectivity becomes issues for simple data inputs of critical importance for decision making in government departments.
  • M-Governance is not a new concept. The private sector has been greatly leveraging these of mobile phones for delivery of value added services for the following which however are mostly SMS based: Banking, Media, Airlines, Telecom, Entertainment, News, Sports, Astrology, and Movie Tickets Etc.
  • M-governance has increased the productivity of public service personnel, improving the delivery of government information and services, increasing channels for public interactions and Lower costs leading to higher participation of people.
  • Recent thrust to m-governance is being provided through USSD Services Unstructured Supplementary Services Data (USSD) is a session based service unlike sms which is store and forward service. It can be used by the user to send command to an application in text format. USSD acts as a trigger for the application

Government initiatives for m-governance

A) Mobile Seva

  • It aims to provide government services to the people through mobile phones and tablets. It has been developed as the core infrastructure for enabling the availability of public services through mobile devices.
  • Mobile Seva enables the integration of the mobile platform with the common e-Governance infrastructure consisting of State Data Centers (SDCs), State Wide Area Networks (SWANs), State and National Service Delivery Gateways (SSDGs/NSDG).
  • It enables a government department to integrate both web and mobile based services seamlessly and enhances the access to electronic services tremendously leveraging the very high penetration of mobile phones, especially in rural areas
  • A Mobile Applications Store (m-App Store) has also been developed by DeitY as part of Mobile Seva. The Mobile Governance Portal and the m-App Store can be accessed at http://mgov.gov.in/. The m-Appstore currently hosts over 240 live mobile applications. The live applications can be downloaded and installed free of cost on a mobile phone by any person.
  • The project, “mobile seva” has won the second prize at the prestigious United Nations’ Public Services Awards in the category “Promoting Whole of Government Approaches in the Information Age” for Asia Pacific.
  • A few years ago, Kerala launched ‘Dr. SMS,’ an m-health information system, for providing information on medical facilities available in the locality of the resident.
  • Goa followed, with a mobile governance initiative for issuing alerts for receipt of government applications and complaints and status tracking.
  • Next came Maharashtra. It adopted a similar traffic management system through mobile alerts.
  • A laudable initiative launched by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation in September tries to use technology in a mobile phone-based Intelligent Garbage Monitoring System enables sanitary supervisors to report the status of cleaning of garbage bins through their GPS-enabled mobile phones. Centralised reports as well as those of individual bins can be generated with the system.

Benefit of m-Governance

  • Cost Saving
  • Proficiency
  • Transformation/modernization of public sector organizations
  • Added convenience and flexibility
  • Better services to the citizens
  • Access
  • Adoption
  • Easy interaction

Advantages of e-governance

  • Speed:Technology makes communication speedier. Internet, Phones, Cell Phones have reduced the time taken in normal communication.
  • Cost Reduction: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. Internet and Phones makes communication cheaper saving valuable money for the Government.
  • Transparency:Use of ICT makes governing profess transparent. All the information of the Government would be made available on the internet. The citizens can see the information whenever they want to see. But this is only possible when every piece of information of the Government is uploaded on the internet and is available for the public to peruse. Current governing process leaves many ways to conceal the information from all the people. ICT helps make the information available online eliminating all the possibilities of concealing of information.
  • Accountability:Once the governing process is made transparent the Government is automatically made accountable. Accountability is answerability of the Government to the people. It is the answerability for the deeds of the Government. An accountable Government is a responsible Government.
  • Convenience:E-Government brings public services to citizens on their schedule and their venue.
  • Improved Customer Service: E-Government allows to redeploy resources from back-end processing to the front line of customer service.
  • Increased access to information: E-Government improves the accessibility of government information to citizens allowing it become an important resource in the making the decisions that affect daily life and so it helps in empowerment of citizens

Disadvantages of e-governance

  • The main disadvantage of an electronic government is to move the government services into an electronic based system. This system loses the person to person interaction which is valued by a lot of people.
  • In addition, the implementation of an e-government service is that, with many technology based services, it is often easy to make the excuse (e.g. the server has gone down) that problems with the service provided are because of the technology.
  • The implementation of an e government does have certain constraints. Literacy of the users and the ability to use the computer, users who do not know how to read and write would need assistance. An example would be the senior citizens. In general, senior citizens do not have much computer education and they would have to approach a customer service officer for assistance. And also in case of rural people, it gives scope for middle man, who distort the information.
  • Studies have shown that there is potential for a reduction in the usability of government online due to factors such as the access to Internet technology and usability of services and the ability to access to computers.
  • Even though the level of confidence in the security offered by government web sites are high, the public are still concerned over security, fear of spam from providing email addresses, and government retention of transaction or interaction history. There has been growing concern about the privacy of data being collected as part of UID project. The security of cyber space and misuse of data is still holding back the citizens to full adaptation of Aadhar card.

Challenges in e-governance

  • There are large numbers of potential barriers in the implementation of e-Governance. Some hindrance in the path of implementation, like security, unequal access to the computer technology by the citizen, high initial cost for setting up the e government solutions and resistance to change. Challenges identified as trust, use of local language, resistance to change, digital divide, cost and privacy and security concerns.

A) Trust

  • Trust can be defined along two dimensions: as an assessment of a current situation, or as an innate personality traitor predisposition. The implementation of public administration functions via e-government requires the presence of two levels of trust. The first is that the user must be confident, comfortable and trusting of the tool or technology with which they will interact. The second dimension of trust pertains to trust of the government].
  • There has to be a balance between ensuring that a system prevents fraudulent transactions and the burden that extensive checks can take place on people who are honest.
  • Recently, confidential information on military veterans was compromised when a computer containing their personal information was lost. This type of incident can erode trust and user confidence in government systems. Trust, along with financial security, are two critical factors limiting the adoption of e-government services.

B) Use of local language

  • The access of information must be permitted in the language most comfortable to the public user, generally the local language.

C) Resistance to change

  • The innovation diffusion theory states that over time an innovation will diffuse through a population, and the rate of adoption will vary between those who adopt early, referred to as early adopters and to those who adopt the innovation much later, referred to as ―laggards.
  • The resistant to change phenomenon can explain much of the hesitation that occurs on the part of constituents in moving from a paper based to a Web-based system for interacting with government.
  • Citizens, employees and businesses can all have their biases with respect to how transactions should be processed. However, government entities and public policy administrators cannot ignore the changes that occur as a result of the implementation of information and communication technology (ICT
  • Education about the value of the new systems is one step toward reducing some of the existing resistance. It can also be particularly useful for a leader or manager, to buy into the new system at an early stage in the adoption process.

D) Digital Divide

  • The digital divide refers to the separation that exists between individuals, communities, and businesses that have access to information technology and those that do not have such access.
  • Social, economic, infrastructural and ethno-linguistic indicators provide explanations for the presence of the digital divide.
  • Economic poverty is closely related to limited information technology resources.
  • An individual living below poverty line does not afford a computer for himself to harness the benefits of e-government and other online services. As the digital divide narrows, broader adoption of e-government in the public domain becomes possible. Economic poverty is not the only cause of digital divide. It can also be caused by the lack of awareness among the people. Even some of the economic stable people don’t know about the scope of e -governance.
  • Awareness can only help to bring users to that service delivery channel once. It cannot guarantee sustained use of the system unless the system is also designed in such a way as to deliver satisfactory outcome. Procedures need to be simplified to deliver concrete benefits and clear guidelines provided to encourage their use by the actual end users and reduce user’s dependence on middlemen/intermediaries.

E) Cost

  • Cost is one of the most important prohibiting factor that comes in the path of e-governance implementation particularly in the developing countries like India where most of the people living below the poverty line. Elected officers and politician don’t seem to be interested in implementing e-governance

F) Privacy and Security

  • There will be three basic levels of access exists for e-government stakeholders: no access to a Web service; limited access to a Web-service or full-access to a Web service, however when personal sensitive data exists the formation of the security access policy is a much more complex process with legal consideration. With the implementation of e-government projects, effective measures must be taken to protect sensitive personal information. A lack of clear security standards and protocols can limit the development of projects that contain sensitive information such as income, medical history.

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