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Saturday, May 21, 2022

e-Governance in Bharat

Electronic governance or e-governance refers to the functioning of the government using ICT (Information and Communications Technology) as tools. The objective of e-Governance is to provide SMART Governance -Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent governance.

Kinds of interactions in e-governance:

1. G2C (Government to Citizens) — Interaction between the government and the citizens.

  • This enables citizens to benefit from the efficient delivery of a wide range of public services.
  • Enhances the accessibility and availability of government services and also improves the quality of services.
  • It aims at making the government citizen-friendly.

2. G2B (Government to Business):

  • It enables the business community to interact with the government by using e-governance tools.
  • The objective is to cut red-tapism which will save time and reduce operational costs. This aims to create a more transparent business environment when dealing with the government.
  • The G2B initiatives help in services such as licensing, procurement, permits and revenue collection.

3. G2G (Government to Government)

  • It enables seamless interaction between various government entities.
  • This kind of interaction can be between various departments and agencies within government or between two governments like the union and state governments or between state governments.
  • The primary aim is to increase efficiency, performance and output.

4. G2E (Government to Employees)

  • This kind of interaction is between the government and its employees.
  • ICT tools help in making these interactions fast and efficient and thus aiming to increase the satisfaction levels of employees.

e-Governance Initiatives

Steps taken to promote e-governance in Bharat are as follows:

  • A National Task Force on Information Technology and Software Development was set-up in 1998.
  • The Department of Information Technology was created at the Centre in 1999 which was renamed as Department of Electronics and Information Technology in 2012. In July, 2016 it was converted into a full- fledged ministry.
  • Initially a 12-point agenda was listed for e-Governance for implementation in all the central ministries and departments.
  • The Information Technology Act (2000) was enacted. This Act was amended in 2008.
  • The first National Conference of States’ IT Ministers was organised in the year 2000, for arriving at a Common Action Plan to promote IT in Bharat.
  • Government set-up NISG (National Institute for Smart Government) in 2002.
  • National Institute for Smart Government (NISG) is a not-for-profit company set up by the Government of India (GoI) on the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model with Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) as its Chairman. NISG is shaped as an institution of excellence in e-governance to assist governments for ushering in smart governance, process reforms and digitalization.

Over the past 20 years of its existence, NISG has built key expertise in the conceptualization of information and communications technology (ICT) solutions and implementation of various e-Governance initiatives.NISG has played a key role in the design and implementation of several mission mode projects (MMP) in Bharat including MCA-21, Passport Seva Project, UID (Aadhaar), commercial taxes, immigration, health, and agriculture are some of them. 

The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) was launched in the year 2010.  Currently it consists of 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and 8 support components.

The National Policy on Information Technology (NPIT) was adopted in 2012.

Digital India Mission (launched in July, 2015) predominantly aims at promoting e-governance by incorporating digital infrastructure creation, digital delivery of services, and digital literacy for the citizens. Digital India Mission and e-governance are the two sides of the same coin.  Extending international outreach for the flagship Digital India programme, the Union government has operationalized a new digital portal that will facilitate trade between Bangladeshi and Bharatiya traders.

NPCI International Payments (NIPL) The international arm of National Payments Corporation of India has partnered with Liquid Group, a cross border digital payment provider to enable QR based UPI payments’ acceptance in 10 countries across north and south east Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan). In July, 2021 Bhutan became the first neighboring country to use UPI platform for payments.

The 23 rd National Conference on e-Governance under the theme India 2020 adopted the 10-fold Mumbai Declaration on e-governance and during the conference, Blockchain Sandbox and Draft Sandbox Policy for Maharashtra was launched. Maharashtra became the first state of Bharat to have a dedicated Fintech policy.

The Sandbox is a community-driven gaming platform where creators can share and monetize voxel (computer based modelling or graphic simulation) assets and gaming experiences on the blockchain.

Block chain is a chain of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.  Each block typically contains a cryptographic hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a time stamp and transaction data. By design, block chains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. A block chain is typically managed by peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks.

Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority.Block chain technology has the potential to give a fillip to e commerce initiatives in the country and provide a safe platform for digital payments in addition to making the current e governance move from transaction based to transformative phase.

Over the last 17 years, 14 states in more than 1000 ULBs (Urban Local Bodies) across Bharat are covered under e Governance to ensure that the citizensare able to access all services they need with ease and transparency. We still have a long way to travel in order to cover all 4000+ towns and cities in Bharat under the e Governance.

Mobile governance (m-governance) portal also known as Mobile Seva provides an integrated platform for delivery of government services to citizen over mobile devices using SMS, USSD, IVRS, CBS, LBS, or mobile applications installed on the mobile phones. Users can access mobile apps store, eSMS service etc. The portal is managed by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Ministry of Information and Technology.

The e Procurement System of India,a G to B model enables the Tenderers to download the Tender Schedule free of cost and then submit the bids online through this portal for tendering in government organizations. (https://eprocure.gov.in/eprocure/app;).

Stages in e Governance

  • Computerization
  • Networking
  • On-Line presence
  • On-Line interactivity

In terms of the desired outcomes the stages in e-Governance can be classified as under:

Phase 1- Information

Phase 2- interaction

Phase 3- transaction

Phase 4- transformation

We can say that India is slowly moving from Phase 1 to Phase 3 and we are yet to reach the phase 4- Transformative stage.

Reasons for slow pace of implementing e-governance initiatives

  • Lack of IT Literacy and awareness regarding benefits of e-governance
  • Underutilization of existing ICT infrastructure
  • Unfriendly attitude of Government Departments
  • Lack of coordination between Government Department and Solution developers (GST and IT Portal are classic examples for this)
  • Resistance to re-engineering of departmental processes
  • Lack of Infrastructure for sustaining e-governance projects on national level

RTI and e-Governance

RTI and e-governance are connected in such a way that e-governance cannot be fully achieved unless RTI Act is implemented fully; neither will the RTI prove to be efficacious if there isn’t a full-fledged system of computerization of the administrative work.

The Right to Information Act, 2005 has a progressive approach and seeks the implementation of Information technology to store the data efficiently to disseminate information. Section 4 of the RTI Act itself emphasizes that “All public authorities maintain all its records duly cataloged and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under this Act and ensures that all records that are appropriate to be computerized are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerized and connected through a network all over the country on different systems so that access to such records is facilitated.” This provision has been specifically included in the RTI in order to provide e-governance to the citizens as a statutory obligation.

Shift from outlays to outcomes orientation

Since 2005-06 the government’s focus has shifted from outlays to outcomes, i.e., results (at least on government’s records and policy documents). The Government has introduced a system for monitoring and evaluating the performance of Government Departments and Ministries from the year 2009-10. The system seeks to address three basic questions

  • What are Departments basic objectives?
  • What actions are proposed to achieve these objectives during the year?
  • How would we know at the end of the year the degree of progress made in implementing these actions i.e., what is the relevant success indicators?

As per the system, at the beginning of each financial year, all Ministries/ Departments are required to prepare a Results-Framework Document (RFD) consisting of the priorities set out by the Ministry concerned, corresponding success indicators and time bound targets to measure progress in achieving these objectives.

At the end of year, all Ministries/ Departments are required to review and prepare a report listing the achievements of their Ministries/ Departments against the agreed results for placing before the Cabinet for information.

Starting from 2011, all the ministries and the departments have been preparing on yearly basis, Results-Framework Document (RFD) and submitting their performance report accordingly and the same was being disclosed in their websites for public information.

However, With PMO and Cabinet Secretariat directly monitoring progress of schemes and projects of all ministries through eSamiksha and PRAGATI projects, the government has scrapped this scheme of RFD in December, 2015. Consequently, all the ministries and the departments have stopped preparing the RFD and stopped disclosing the same in their websites for public information.

The esamiksha website is basically meant for the ministries and the departments to share their performance data for a review by the cabinet secretariat the general public do not get access to the information as this platform of digital governance is meant only for the government ministries and the departments for exchange of information.

Therefore, it is time that the government reviews this mechanism and restores the freedom to the ministries/ departments so that they can share their performance report under the RFD format in their websites for public information. In fact, such performance disclosure by the ministries and departments should be on quarterly basis instead of annual basis so that the public accountability of the government at various levels will improve significantly.

“Information is the currency of democracy”- said Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the USA. Bharat being the largest democracy of the world, let us hope our country will set an example to the rest of the world by taking its e Governance initiatives to much greater heights.

References:

  1. https://www.india.gov.in/e-governance-portal
  2. https://digitalindia.gov.in/.
  3. https://www.meity.gov.in/content/mission-mode-projects.
  4. https://esamiksha.gov.in/.

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Dr. B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Dr. B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Ex- Senior Banker, Financial and Management Consultant and Visiting faculty at premier B Schools and Universities. Areas of Specialization & Teaching interests - Banking, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Economics, Global Business & Behavioural Sciences. Qualification- M.Com., M.B.A., A.I.I.B.F., PhD. Experience- 25 years of banking and 16 years of teaching, research and consulting. 200 plus national and international publications on various topics like- banking, global trade, economy, public finance, public policy and spirituality. One book in English “In Search of Eternal Truth”, two books in Telugu and 38 short stories 50 articles and 2 novels published in Telugu. Email id: [email protected]

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