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An initiative towards digitalisation

An initiative towards digitalisation
There are many problems in our country like untrained manpower, huge population, lack of arrangement, illiteracy, and corruption. In the past decades, our government has done commendable works to address these issues. 

Government comprises of various Departments and Ministries, Authorities, Divisions, Commissions, Panels, Experts, Boards, Scientific and Research bodies, Universities, Bureaus, Public Sector Undertakings, and several other things. For communication among all these bodies and also for public, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a good option. It is cheap, fast, and easy. And here comes E-Governance. Its objective is to reach every person in the country at its doorstep with transparency, equality, and effectiveness.

Our Prime Minister is promoting “Make in India”, an initiative to improve the economic conditions of our country. However, if a person wants to set up an industry in India he has to contact various departments like water, electricity, land registration, equipment insurance, environment, exemptions, calibration, custom, excise, sales tax, income tax, quality control, transportation, safety, provident fund, employee insurance, labor welfare, telecom, Internet connectivity, etc. 

Writing so many applications to so many Departments are a hurdle to NRIs. So to narrow down this list and to accelerate the process government is considering some solutions with IT experts. New terms such as E-governance, SMART (Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent) government, government to public  are coined.

E-Governance supports democracy. Democracy has been derived from a Greek word “demokratía” which means “rule of the people”. It says that everybody has an equal right to participate in the country either directly or through their elected representative. With the use of internet, democracy is acquiring the aspect of e-democracy. E-democracy is the use of ICT and policies of the government as because of large population it is not possible for the government to reach to every person directly.

Objectives of e-governance
E-governance, also known as digital government, online government or one-stop government, will help in breaking the shell created around the government for a common man. Main objectives of e-governnance are to make public centric government:

  • to bring transparency among various parties and public
  • to provide information to public through phones and internet
  • to reduce corruption
  • to strengthen the connection between public and government
  • to increase trustworthiness and reliability
  • to work administration effectively

Benefits of E- Governance
E-governance is not only the digitalisation of information and records. It will encapsulate government and public and develop trust in the society. People can get answers to their questions without writing so many applications to the government and it will reduce exploitation, bribery, dishonesty, fraud, and corruption. Some of its benefits are listed below:

  • It will reduce corruption and lethargy
  • Enhance Right to Information
  • Speed up solution to various queries of public
  • Bring transparency and faith in public
  • Improve administrative performance
  • Implement real-time monitoring
  • Integrate networks and information
  • Boost protection
  • Optimum use of resources
  • Reduce crime

Challenges
E-governance looks very impressive at first but it is not that easy to implement. Various hurdles should be encompassed to initiate e-governance. Some issues to be considered are given below:

  • Discovering uncovered areas: The government has to find out the areas where they have to invest more.
  • Categorisation of information: To maintain the sensitivity and confidentiality of the information government has to categorise it into different levels depending upon the conditions who can access which information up to which extent.
  • Custom standard actions: Some standard procedures should be implemented to the overall system to make uniformity in all departments. Information from all departments should undergo the same procedures.
  • To integrate different departments: Databases should be designed in such a manner that they can reply complex queries involving information from various departments.
  • Inter-departmental data transfer: Some policies, protocols, and procedures will be required to facilitate inter-departmental data transfer.
  • Funds: To implement e-governance, many projects have to be initiated at departmental as well as inter-departmental level. An enormous amount of money is required for that.
  • Security: Multilevel security constraints should be added to make secure transactions of data. To avoid unauthorised access of data, various security features should be implemented like firewall, digital signatures, cryptography, encryption, biometrics, and proxy servers etc.
  • Educate people about IT: Existing employees should be trained to make use of IT.
  • To digitalise the exiting records.

Implementation
Governance-centric approach will help to implement e-governance successfully instead of techno-centric approach. Many initiatives have been taken by various states of different countries, however, these efforts are not acceptable all over. Lack of literacy, skillfulness, funds, infrastructure, trained manpower are central hurdles in this. So to start e-governance successfully governance-centric approach should be enforced. Following are the proposed stages which may work:

  • Determine e-governance scope
  • Explore the need for this project
  • Define architecture of e-governance
  • Analyse and evaluate the architecture
  • Redesign the process and architecture
  • Implement the final designs
  • Monitor the performance and take feedbacks
  • Make improvements

Establish systems
Monitor ongoing processes, audit and make required updates

E-governance may have various types of interactions: While implementing the model for e-governance all these perspective should also be considered. Respective interfaces should be created to get access for the services like public and access the services offered by the government only if they have citizen-to-government interface.

  • Government to government
  • Government to citizen
  • Citizen to government
  • Government to business
  • Business to government

E- Governance enabled countries
Various developed countries like Korea, Australia, Singapore, Japan, France, USA, New Zealand, Finland, etc. already have e-governance and are upgrading with time. It helps in reducing crime and corruption. It brings a sense of equality for all by providing information to everybody despite the barriers of class, gender, region, and financial conditions. Developing countries are also in this line and trying to implement e-governance in their country at different levels.

Policies launched in India
India is moving towards digitalisation and has already taken many steps in this direction. E-governance is one of these steps. Various states of India have started different policies to implement e-governance. Some of these policies in progress by different state government are given below:

  • Gyan doot: State government of MP started this project in Dhar and this project won Stockholm challenge IT Award 2000. In this project various e-governance services are included like e-mail facility, online applications, market status, online registration, information about the person below poverty line, land records, fast access to forms etc.
  • CARD: (Computer-Aided Administration of Registration Department). It is for public administration and management initiated by State Government of Andhra Pradesh. It is used for property and document management so that transparency can be maintained. Parallel initiatives have been taken in other states as well like SARITA (State Government of Maharashtra) STAR (State Government of Tamil Nadu), etc.
  • Bhoomi: It is digitalisation of Land Records initiated by State Government of Karnataka to reduce corruption and enhance reliability and transparency. It helps the agricultural farms in taking bank loans and resolving clashes by providing Record of Rights Tenancy and Crops (RTC).
  • Vahan and Sarathi: State government of Tamil Nadu started this project for Registration of Vehicle, renewal and cancellation of RCs, issuing of licenses like driving license, conductor license etc.
  • E-Basta: People can save their documents in digital form online so that they can use them independent of the location.
  • Aadhar card: Every citizen of India should have a unique identification number which will help in checking crime, estimating the population of different areas, identifying any person etc. It is implemented at country level by the government.

Conclusion
Many countries are trying to implement e-governance, however, the main obstacle in its implementation is that it is being considered techno-centric rather than governance-centric. Interfaces should be made by keeping in mind not the technicalities but the ease of use. Various states in India have also initiated e-governance. 

Developing countries are lacking in this regard because of lesser funds, insufficient infrastructure, and untrained employees. E-governance will not only accelerate the working  of government but also bring transparency and reliability in society. Availability of internet everywhere remains a cause of concern.

(The views expressed are strictly personal.)
Dr. Shyamalendu Niyogi and Sarita Rathi

Dr. Shyamalendu Niyogi and Sarita Rathi

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