The actual term governance comes from an ancient Greek word, ‘kebernon’, which means to Steer. In current usage, to govern means to steer, to control, and to influence from a position of Authority. It is a set of the systems and processes concerned with ensuring the overall direction, effectiveness, super vision and accountability of an organization. E-Governance involves new styles of leadership, new ways of debating and deciding policy and investment, new ways of accessing education, new ways of listening to citizens and new ways of organizing and delivering information and services.
Just like the term e-Commerce, the term e-governance was born out of the Internet boom. However, it is not limited to Internet use or publicly accessible systems for direct use by customers or citizens. E-Governance started as a practitioner field, basically convening practitioners struggling to meet the new challenges of the Internet medium by implementing new systems creatively. For example, in the United States the (then) Vice President Gore led the National Performance Review, which placed a strong emphasis on the role of e-government in federal Services.
“E-governance is the application of information & communication technologies to transform the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of informational & transactional exchanges with in government, between govt. & govt. agencies of National, State, Municipal & Local levels, citizen & businesses, and to empower citizens through access & use of information”. In other words e- Governance is the implementation and delivery of government services through the information communication technology to provide Transparent, Effective, Efficient, Responsive and Accountable governance to the society.
Responsiveness, Accountability, Equity and inclusiveness. Information and communication technologies have a valuable potential to help meet good governance goals in India. EGovernance is the application of Information-Technology in the processes of Government functioning to bring about Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent (SMART) Governance.
E-GOVERNANCE IN INDIA
In the past, service delivery mechanisms of the government departments left much to be desired in India. Cramped spaces; shabby ambience; discourteous dealing personnel and their chronic absenteeism; demands of gratification; inefficiency in work; long queues; procrastinating officials; procedural complexities; etc., were some of the undesirable features of the working of the government departments. Consequently, a visit to government department by a citizen to make use of any service used to be a harrowing experience. With the rising awareness amongst the citizens and their better experiences with the private sector – the demand for better services on the part of government departments became more pronounced. The infusion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has played a prominent role in strengthening such a demand. The metamorphosis in the quality of delivery of services to the citizens by the government has been more pronounced in recent years with the advent of e-governance.
Egovernance, which is a paradigm shift over the traditional approaches in Public Administration, means rendering of government services and information to the public using electronic means. This new paradigm has brought about a revolution in the quality of service delivered to the citizens. It has ushered in transparency in the governing process; saving of time due to provision of services through single window; simplification of procedures; better office and record management; reduction in corruption; and improved attitude, behavior and job handling capacity of the dealing personnel. Information and communication technologies have a valuable potential to help meet good governance goals in India. The concept of e-governance originated in India during the seventies with a focus on development of inhouse government applications in the areas of defense, economic monitoring and planning.
The deployment of IT was aimed to manage data intensive functions related to elections, census, tax administration etc. The efforts of the Nat ional Informatics Center (NIC) to connect all the district headquarters during the eighties was a very significant development. Early nineties onwards, IT technologies were supplemented by ICT technologies to extend its use for wider sectoral applications with policy emphasis on reaching out to rural areas and taking in greater inputs from NGOs and private sector. According to Former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi A. Annan, “Good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting Development in the nation and its citizens”
To provides organizations the flexibility to select different hardware and software for implementing cost-effective e-Governance solutions. It, therefore, promotes technology choice, and avoids vendor lock-in. It aims for reliable long-term accessibility to public documents and information in Indian context . To make all Government services accessible to the common man in his locality, ensure efficiency, transparency & reliability of such services at affordable costs and to all other stakeholders like public agencies and their employees and business communities. To meet this objective, there is a need to cooperate, collaborate and integrate information across different departments. Government systems characterized by islands of legacy systems using heterogeneous platforms and technologies and spread across diverse geographical locations, in varying state of automation, make this task very challenging. In short, the aim is to provide knowledge-based governance rather than person centric governance.
Stages of e-Governance
It is evident that e-Governance is intrinsically linked with the development of computer technology, networking of computers and communication systems. In developing countries, such technologies and systems became available with a perceptible time lag as compared to developed nations. However, in the case of India, with the liberalization of the economy from the early 1990s onwards, there has been a convergence in the availability of cutting edge technologies and opportunities in the field of e-Governance. Generally speaking, the Indian experience demonstrates that the onset of eGovernance proceeded through the following phases:
(a) Computerization: In the first phase, with the availability of personal computers, a large number of Government offices got equipped with computers. The use of computers began with word processing, quickly followed by data processing. (b) Networking: In this phase, some units of a few government organizations got connected through a hub leading to sharing of information and flow of data between different government entities.
(c) On-line presence: With increasing internet connectivity, a need was felt for maintaining a presence on the web. This resulted in maintenance of websites by government departments and other entities. Generally, these web-pages/web-sites contained information about the organizational structure, contact details, reports and publications, objectives and vision statements of the respective government entities.
(d) On-line interactivity: A natural consequence of on-line presence was opening up of communication channels between government entities and the citizens, civil society organizations, etc. The main aim at this stage was to minimize the scope of personal interface with government entities by providing downloadable Forms, Instructions, Acts, Rules etc. In some cases, this has already led to on-line submission of Forms. Most citizen-government transactions have the potential of being put on e-Governance mode.
G2B: A set of services exchanged between government and the business community. G2C: A set of services exchanged between government and the citizen. G2E: A set of services exchanged between government and government employees. G2G: A set of services exchanged between government agencies.
Seamless data storage and search if data is stored in UNICODE. All 22 officially recognized Indian Languages including Vedic Sanskrit represented in UNICODE.
WAI –Web Accessibility Initiative
CSS -Cascading Style Sheet It’s important to design a website for a wide range of audiences. This includes people with -disabilities, -people using mobile devices, people with outdated technology.
XML is used to develope-Government frameworks, Architecture sand services and improve interoperability between systems
Infrastructure Creation: The e-governance scenario envisages a continuous data flow from all the departments and from all over the State i.e. from district/block/tehsil levels and even below that, updating the databases on the State Govt. PORTALS. Therefore, a minimum IT infrastructure needs to be created in the entire State, including a specific and strong communication network, that is, a Statewide Government INTRANET.
Software Development: Only a Comprehensive Integrated Information Systems development approach needs to be adopted by all Departments, by interfacing and encapsulating the Islands of Computerisation, as components in the new developments. The Databases thus created in various systems are then further integrated in a Data Warehouse enabling analytical data mining to support decision-making for any policy-formulation.
Training: Appropriate regular training is necessary for all in-service Government employees for bringing change in the mindset and spreading culture of using IT in their day to day working. It will also now be appropriate to make it essential having computer keyboard typing skills for all the new recruits at Group-C level, when they enter service .
Present Scenario of e‐Governance
The e‐Governance scenario in India has come a long way since its origin. A large number of initiatives have been taken by the Union and the State Governments that initiatives can be broadly classified into the following categories:
Computerization of Land records and their online delivery e.g.Project Bhoomi implemented in Karnataka and Project CARD implemented in Andhra Pradesh.
Online registration, disposal and monitoring of public grievances e.g. Project SETU implemented in Maharashtra and Project Gramsampark implemented in Madhya Pradesh
Online availability of information on administrative procedures and forms e.g. Project STAMPS implemented in Maharashtra and Project WebCITI implemented in Punjab Providing essential, important and useful information of public interest e.g. Project Gyandoot implemented in Madhya Pradesh and Project JAN MITRA implemented in Rajasthan
Online facility to pay all statutory dues and taxes as well as utility payments e.g. Project FRIENDS implemented in Kerala and Project MUDRA implemented in Bihar Online facility to make applications and avail various types of services e.g. Project Vidya Vahini implemented at national level and Project FAST implemented in Andhra Pradesh.
Facilitating all procurements by online tenders and evaluation of bids e.g. Project Lok Mitra implemented in Himachal Pradeshand Project Mahiti Shakti implemented in Gujarat.
Providing easy and secure online access to registry/compliance related services e.g. Project MCA21 implemented at national level.
Every state government has taken the initiative to form an IT task force to outline IT policy document for the state and the citizen charters have started appearing on government websites.
Action plan for achievement of e‐Governance objectives
Government leaders in India are starting to realize that e‐governance is the key to drive today’s economy with an increased citizen participation. Providing services online is no longer going to remain optional for local and central government as demand for providing services at internet speed from the citizens has increased in the recent years.
How do government agencies overcome the obstacles and build a strategy to facilitate the transition to successful online or “e” service delivery. If the government waits, it is perceived as being ignorant or unaware of the citizen needs and loses an opportunity to realize the tremendous benefits of online service delivery and larger citizen participation in overall service delivery. However, if the e‐governance projects are started and implemented in haste, they are doomed to fail.
Following are some of the strategies/action plans for a successful implementation of an e‐Governance system for one billion people of India:
Have clearly defined objectives and interoperability policies to achieve such objectives
Effectively manage and continuously update the content efficiently and regularly
Create literacy/awareness and commitment to e‐Governance at high level
Conduct usability surveys for assessment of existing e‐Governance projects and act upon the results of such assessment, wherever required
Start with the implementation of pilot projects and replicate the successful ones
Follow the best practices in e‐Governance
Build nationwide Resource database for e‐Governance projects
National e-governance Plan
The NeGP Vision consists of making 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. The Government has approved the National e- Governance Plan (NeGP), comprising of 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and 10 components.
MCA 21 – The first Mission Mode Project to be launched under NeGP
The National Institute of Smart Governance
E-Governance in Rajasthan
Has set up over 500 e- mitra service centres on PPP basis in 31 out of 32 districts with services including certificates, payment of bills, transport ticketing, ration card etc with business process reengineering in linked departments.
– SARATHI (Stamp and Registration Automation with Technology and Information) eregistration in an hour. Jan Mitra, RajSWIFT, Lokmitra, RajNIDHI
E-Governance Strategy in Rajasthan
The state of Rajasthan would benefit greatly from an overall enterprise IT strategy for achieving the collective business objectives of its departments. An IT Strategy that is based on an overarching business strategy rather than separate, unaligned individual department strategies would allow executive department agencies, constitutional offices, the Legislature and the judicial branch to focus their energies and resources to enhance value and introduce cost effective operations throughout the government. Such a strategy is essential to create synergy and achieve an alignment between the state’s IT investments and its desired service outcomes for citizens and businesses. In order to fructify its vision, the Government of Rajasthan needs to focus on the following four elements:
• Delivery Channels
• Performance measures
The Department of Information Technology (DoIT) has been created by the State Government, as the nodal department for furthering IT in the State, having three wings with other associated structure viz. Industrial Development wing, Human Resource Development wing, and Governance wing. The Secretary (Information Technology) is the functional Head of the DoIT.
E-Governance– The SMART Way Forward
e-Governance is the logical next step in the use of ICT in systems of governance in order to ensure wider participation and deeper involvement of citizens, institutions, civil society groups and the private sector in the decision making process of governance. Rapid growth of communications technology and its adoption in governance would help in bringing government machinery to the doorsteps of the citizens. Expansion of telephone network, rapid strides in mobile telephony, spread of internet and strengthening of other communications infrastructure would facilitate delivery of a large number of services provided by the government. This enhancement of the reach of government – both spatial and demographic – would also enable better participation of citizens in the process of governance. This, in turn, would result in enhanced productivity and efficiency in all sectors.