• IPC 2017

eGovernance Between Myth & Reality

By GovernanceToday
In Cover Story
January 13, 2017

“….. to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman.”

With these words, JAWAHARLAL Nehru, succinctly put the task before people’s representatives and the services, as the first Prime Minister of India, in his famous Tryst with Destiny speech of 15th August 1947. A deeper look at these tasks would establish that these goals are entirely within the realm of governance, and the works are still in progress.

cover-storyIn absence of an accepted definition of governance, there is divergence of opinion and million negotiations to ensure what is good governance in reality. The onus is now shifting to IT presenting a new paradigm of social regulation, but creating million more negotiations for egovernance in its truest form. No theory of governance would be intelligible unless it is seen in the context of its time. Here, it is very important to understand that a complete 360 turn-around was required to change the processes and systems in-place so that governance could get new shape and fresh perspective.

The biggest myth is, initially, it was felt that e-Governance is simply switch over to automated systems or simply computerization of the erstwhile manually-fed data and the replacement of traditional typewriters with Personal Computers. Just like replacing traditional postal mail with e-mail, e-Governance is also replacement of traditional governance with ‘e’ or electronic tools of governance. We have to rise above it to the next level. And this is possible through innovation.  Let’s make an honest attempt to understand and differentiate clearly between technology automation and eGovernance before moving further in the New Year. Let’s burst the myth!

One must understand that eGovernance is the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses and other arms of Government with the usage of information technologies. All biases relating to inability to cope with the new systems in place should be negated and it must be understood that e-Governance will usher a new era of simplified systems and provision of services, making or receiving the payments through automated systems, all certificates and documents retrieval at the click of a button or at the doorsteps of a common citizen, etc.

Let’s see a new horizon with the wish lists for good governance!

What are the e Governance myths to be broken in the New Year?

The present government has given a renewed thrust to e- Governance through the initiative of ‘Digital India’ by bringing in public accountability through mandated delivery of government’s services electronically. The program aims at providing digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen as well as high-speed internet as a core utility in all gram panchayats. However, it is a myth that only e- governance will result in good governance because for it to become a reality, e-Governance needs to be implemented as a tool. In order to make e-Governance effectively implemented, firstly there is a need to impart technical knowhow to the common man. India is a country with low literacy as well as poor internet penetration especially in the rural areas that needs to be addressed with immediate attention. Also since e-Governance is totally based on technology, IT infrastructure services need to be upgraded to prevent problem of slow internet connectivity.

Secondly, e-Governance as the sole mechanism for program implementation does not enable people to people contact as a result the citizens are not able to present their grievances to the  government.

Thirdly, e-Governance as the  only mechanism for access of services is extremely tedious for the senior citizens who are not usually tech savvy.

Fourth, 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 in the country 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 fully adapt the Aadhar card.

Fifth, the implementation of public administration functions via e-governance requires the presence of two levels of trust wherein the user must be confident as well as comfortable of the tool or technology as well as trust of the government. There has to be a balance between ensuring that the system prevents fraudulent transactions and the burden that extensive checks can take place on honest people. Trust, along with financial security, are two l factors limiting the adoption of e-government services in the country.

Sixth, cost is one of the most important factors that come in the path of e-governance implementation in India where a large number of people are living below the poverty line.

Lastly, there exists a wide digital divide in the country between those having access to information technology and those that do not have such access. The digital divide exists because of social, economic, infrastructural and ethno-linguistic differences in India. Efforts have to made by  the government at every level to reduce this divide in order to make e-Governance a reality in the country.

To conclude, I perceive e-Governance as a ray of hope that provides the poorest of the poor in India a better access to government amenities as well as facilitates their financial inclusion. However, e-Governance continues to be more of a myth as it remains just a policy measure of the government. It will only become a reality when e-Governance becomes effectively implemented at every level of government from the panchayats to the centre through digitalized provision of services to the citizens. In order to make this a reality, the digital divide needs to be overcome with greater digital literacy and internet penetration along with strengthening of cyber security in the country.

heera-lal2016 has been revolutionary in terms of technology change, spread of connectivity and its ecosystem building. Digital India drive uplifts the mobile connectivity even to the rural areas, at the same time 4G launched and now available to most of the urban areas.

Government should ride-upon this vehicle of change and explore the new opportunity to serve the public in more convenient way. This year e-Governance should be transformed from Computer to Mobile and from paper to paperless.

It has been propagated to the masses that e-Governance is for urban citizen or computer literate person. This myth need to be broken. Government and private actors shall work towards mobile app based citizen centric services where citizen will avail the services in local language interface and can apply with the help of Aadhar card and pay through debit cum ATM card and mobile application baking.

lokesh-mehraThe intent of rebooting the governance system to make it more citizen friendly is a noble intent, and with demonetization the transition to a cashless society will give the much required impetus to e-governance. UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific clearly outlines good governance to have eight major  characteristics namely accountable, consensus oriented,effective, efficient,equitable, inclusive, participatory,responsive and transparent. There are some myths surrounding e-governance which need to be dismantled.

Myth 1: E-governance is effective only for people possessing smart phones – Feature phones having basis SMS Services can be used for effective citizen services delivery and this is no longer only about record management or web facing portals. In general the public has low expectancy from Govt. departments assuming that they adhere to traditional paperwork methods. However with adoption of electronic delivery channels, the perception is changing – Today IRCTC PNR SMS feature is one live example.

Myth 2: Government Departments have poor IT culture and customer sensitivity – Prior bad experiences dealing with Govt. departments on large scale projects or procurement put off the private sector for further interactions. Fortunately, the Government has been proactively transitioning to corporate like structures and hiring consultants having extensively worked in the private sector – the reluctance to deal with Government is waning off and Mission Mode Projects have shown the way forward for successful PPPs.

Myth 3: Availing services is too complex for rural, illiterate population leading to Social exclusion– Single Window systems, which provide adequate transparency, accountability and empowerment, have enabled people to interact with Govt. within the defined service timelines especially like Birth/Death certificates, grievance redressal, etc.

Myth 4:  E-governance is managed and run only by Govt. officials – The common man’s perception is that only bureaucrats and Govt. officials create the framework and rules of  governance and imposed on the public. Mann ki Baat and my gov. in have led to greater participation in decision-making involving and consulting the citizens, making people’s voices count.

Myth 5: There are no backup, security and disaster recovery mechanisms–Regular Disruption in services like servers down in banks and ATM’s, frequent power cutsmake people feel that we lack proper infrastructure and are prone to hackers. Infact all Public Sectors critical information systems have adequate measures in place to prevent data loss and ensure services are resumed at the earliest. Given the spurt in digital transactions, the recent Government notification has mandated all banks to share IT breaches information within 2 hours.

vimal-wakhluFor the past 70 years, any person who is able to circumvent the system in the country either with the aid of the politicians or with his ingenious techniques, has been considered to be smart, and an honest citizen dumb. However, what we have witnessed in the last couple of months is something unprecedented in the history of post Independent India.

What is your advice and eGovernance wish list for 2017?

There are three things that happened during this period- Demonetisation of higher value currency, aggressive work in the direction of implementation ofGST and Benami Property Act implementation. While the demonetisation has been in the news and has broken all records, the other two events too have got a potential of transforming the nation. This trident will lead the nation from a developing nation to a developed one.

e-Registration of all existing and new properties is expected to be done in the 2017, probably before the end of the financial year. This would break the myth that e-governance in a country like India where bulk of the people are not educated and are poor, is a utopian concept. There was a myth in the country that black money in real estate is there to stay, and no amount of e-Governance can control it. With e-Registration of all properties, new and old, the ‘benami’ properties which have been a safe haven for unscrupulous people, a conduit for parking their ill gotten wealth, will not be able to sustain. The source of income for acquisition of any property shall have to be stated.

With demonetisation drive having at least succeeded in bringing all the black money into circulation, the noose around the black money promoters seems to be getting tightened. Benami property act would further strengthen the hands of the government in unearthing black money. GST when implemented in 2017 would certainly prevent tax evasion which has been a major source of black money generation.

It has been a paradox for years- in some of the terrorist affected areas, despite shutdowns and the life being difficult with loss of productivity in a big way , some  people have been prospering by leaps and bounds. It is amazing to see the level of prosperity compared to their counterparts in the other parts of the country, which are relatively peaceful. Now it is clear that it has been the fake currency pumped by our enemies, which has been responsible for this. Demonetisation is going to address this issue as well at least till the enemy camp finds an alternative to this.

Heera Lal  Managing Director, UPDESCO, GoUP-
It should be directed to mobile/ ISP companies to waive off data charges for e-Governance services. Citizen who wants to avail the government services shall apply through his mobile even if they don’t have data pack, similar to mobile emergency services. It has been directed to mobile companies to launch their new product with government services app, pre-installed.

Wish list for 2017
» Over the counter service delivery of at least 10 most voluminous services to citizens.
» Government mobile wallet creation.
» Mobile –aadhar based PDS delivery.
» Virtual Government ID and verification.
» Turning from government 2 to government 3.
» Business correspondence model in each village of UP.
» Promotion of innovations and entrepreneurship through the best startup policy to solve social problems on mass scale on the basis of minimum government and maximum governance.

Lokesh Mehra Director – Workforce Development Oracle India Pvt. Ltd.
Wish List would include key elements where ICT is used as an enabler  Business Process Reengineering of all departments which outlines the various processes for any task to be completed. These processes should adopt forward and backward integration as well interlock with other departments. For instance the Ministry of Skills and Entrepreneurship has now reached out to 17 other Ministries also conducting common skilling programs to ensure synergy. This not only streamlines and simplifies processes but also integrates data and services of all concerned departments.

Adoption of a standards based approach to enable integration with other related applications improving accessibility of information to citizens. This would also result in power equation changes within the system.

Ensuring Capacity Building of key stakeholders across different function levels, involved in change management– this would create a dedicated cadre who have the capability to prioritize, conceptualize, develop and manage e-Governance projects.

Creating public awareness campaigns especially using Social media on the benefits of e-Governance – these could be similar to the ones used for polio eradication or the recent cashless digitization launch. The older generation needs to be targeted especially since they are not so ICT savvy.

Barely 35% of India is conversant with English and Localization and Availability of e-governance in multiple languages is a must to ensure speedy diffusion and adoption. Adequate measures to protect PII (personally identifiable information) which is prone for loss and theft with correct policy regulations is a must.

The past decade has seen a multitude of e-governance projects with good learning. In a country where paperwork still rules the roost, improving operations, capacity building, portability, reliable services with lower transaction costs would result in successful implementation and higher adoption.

Vimal Wakhlu Former Chairman & Managing Director TCIL-
Incentivising cashless transactions is going to benefit the country in a big way. Transactions using cash should prove to be more expensive. In the Delhi  NCR region, there is a lot of hesitation on the part of both consumers as well as retailers in avoiding cash. The consumers get blackmailed into using cash. For a proper receipt andpayment through card the charges levied are 15 to 22% higher . People generally fall into this trap, and the government is deprived of revenue, and is turn is tempted to impose more taxes, cess etc., to shore up its resources. Thus it is a vicious cycle, where a genuine honest citizen of the country is penalised, while the sharks have a field day.

Recently, a small trader  known to me was explaining to me how during Diwali festival, dry fruits worth 2 crores were sold from a single shop with none in the supply chain paying any tax at all, thus the government losing almost 3040 lakhs in this single case.  Once GST is in place, taxes on goods and  services shall become inescapable, thus government would be able to ensure better tax compliance, and further lower tax rates.

My e-governance wish list for 2017 is :

cover-story11. Make Aadhaar registrationmandatory for all people living in the country. This would ensure that the money meant for intended beneficiaries actually reach them instead of some unscrupulous middle men who have been thriving for so long.

2. Without succumbing to political blackmail by vested interests, work further on e-Registration of all properties- new and old, to sift out benami properties. This would eventually bring down the property prices, and make housing affordable for all, besides breaking this conduit of laundering black money.

3. ERP platform for 80 million MSMEs in the country on Pay as You use basis. Under normal conditions MSMEs find it difficult to afford an ERP system, though it would help them improve their efficiencies and also help them on saving on costs . In case government invests into this, and makes its use mandatory, it would be able to recover the cost in just one year, given the resultant tax compliance from this segment.

4. Incentivise cashless transactions by making them cheaper as compared to cash transactions. Government can leverage the strength of its public sector bank infrastructure to  give  it a fillip. The private sector banks would have to fall in line for their survival.

5. e-procurementshould to be made mandatory for all tendering process in all governments departments of the centre, and also the State Governments to ensure transparency .

6. Work towards Digital education of the masses. Literate masses only can work in a cashless environment. A mass campaign needs to be started to work in this direction. One educated (10+2) person from each village, designated as e-Mitra can be trained at the taluka level/ district level, and he in the process can digitally educate his fellow villagers.

7. Work on Big data Analytics to ensure an effective intelligence gathering to prevent the hence forth hoarders of black money from laundering their money again, and in the process bringing the efforts of the government and the sacrifices of the people during the last couple of months to a naught. No body, whether it is a politician, businessman or a common man for that matter should be able to cheat the nation.

8. Places like Delhi NCR face a major environmental challenge during winter months in particular. Automated Monitoring of pollution of individual vehicles and the industries at source, through a centralised system, which would ensure that punitive action is taken after a proper warning to defaulters would go a long way in mitigating this challenge.

9. Speed up Bharatnet. Nearly one billion Indians live in rural India. For a cashless society, we need to have a reliable broadband network to all the villages. Bharatnet, an ambitious and flagship project of the Government  of India needs to be expedited to make this dream come true.

The time is ripe for these changes. It is a matter of do or die. In case we fail this time, we shall be destined to be a developing country for another 70 years !

Pramod Tripathi
Electronic Governance (e-Governance) is the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for the planning, implementation, and monitoring of private & government programs, projects, and activities. This is more systematic cost effective process where the information can be remotely accessed, shred and interpreted. This also brings resources at a platform of comparison, modification and correction of models.

Education in India is provided by the public sector as well as the private sector, The public education system which dominates the base of school education control has funding coming from three levels: central, state, and local. Under various articles of the Indian Constitution, free and compulsory education is provided as a fundamental right to children between the ages of 6 and 14. According to current estimates, 85% of Indian schools are public schools and remaining 15% private, where the combination of students is uneven, 71% students are enrolled in public schools and remaining 29% of Indian children are privately educated.

India being a 7th largest country in terms of area and 2nd largest in terms of population has huge challenge to educate and develop skills to its upcoming generation e-governance in Indian school system is still at its infant stage and we rarely see any kind of coordination between projects and institutions.  

Challenges in education.
» Large country 3287 million Sq km Area.
» Requirement of schools and qualified staff to village level.
» Limited resources and fund allocations considering the thrust of problem
» Monitoring of projects and quality implementation
» Review, audit and correction to ongoing projects for better results.
» Awareness about e-education, home schooling and e-governance.

Advice and e-Governance

Considering the two important statistics’ of time where 40% of Indian population is grouped as young and BRIC nation pool major part of world’s work force, it mandatory for administrators and policy makers to make education more digital and governance more remotely controlled.

Virtual class rooms for lecturing can solve the problem of shortage of quality teachers and disparity between rural and urban divide. This will also control student’s migration to urban and ru-urban area for quality education.

Resource centres should be established for sharing resources, teaching aid material and library. Schools will get attached to this resource centre’s for their projects and practical’s. the process is more cost effective and allows students  and teachers from different locations to interact and exchange ideas.

Teacher as human resource to be shared by more than one location / centre for its optimum utilization, this will encourage individual and allows him to work in the area of his interest.

The class room teaching is a unique and dynamic, which changes from time to time and from situation to situation. Sharing knowledge across the centre’s and directions beyond boundary and systems will bring revolution in quality education at remote locations.

Teachers attendance is major issue in public education system, as per record is 40%, this can be simply overcome from e-Governance where any biometrics  system can be connected to national server for real time attendance.

Admissions to different level can happen with single entry system by giving priority to locations. This will save time and energy of organizers as well as participants’.

Report card, attendance and child’s progress can be better monitor through digital system than physically on records.

General administration of physical assets, moveable assets, consumable and non consumable resources and wisely utilized when updates and usages record is available.

Financial planning and future growth can be planned well in advance.

In conclusion we feel that digitization of resources and e-Governance is the need of time and can solve various obstructions from the current education systems. The free and compulsory education for all can be only achieved effectively through this means. We need to advance bit faster towards these developments to achieve 100% literacy and improving skilled work force. The pride of nation in with skilled & technically educated populations.

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