Current Public Administration Magazine (September - 2014) - Good Governance Through E-governance with Special Reference to India

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine

Information & Communication Technology


ELECTRONIC GOVERNANCE, popularly known as e-governance, is a distinct dimension of New Public Management (NPM) which has gained considerable momentum since the early 1990s. The term ‘e- overnance’ is often used to describe the networking paradigm and its decentralising and communicatory implications. There is the overlap between egovernment and e-governance as competing paradigms that intersect at times during their development.Some suggest that government makes use of e-governance strategy to improve the quality of governance. e- Governance is the process of enabling governance experts using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to make governance effective for citizens in terms of efficiency, transparency, and cost-effectiveness. The term ‘e-Government’ has been used too broadly to define initiatives and programmes that should rightly be deemed e-governance. Over the past few years, “governments have hurriedly adopted e-government technologies and ideas from simple, online communication of government information to real time, secure transactions for various processes and payments. Demands generated from political leadership, other associated governments, capacity building needs and perceived citizen expectations all contribute” to adoption of e-government methods for good governance. At a broader level, apart from delivering government services, e-governance includes integration of several stand-alone systems and services between Government-to-Citizens (G2C), Government-to-Business (G2B), Government-to-Government (G2G) as well as back office processes and interactions within entire government framework. The overall objective of such a catalogue is to enable the administration to provide services with affordable cost and optimum time to the end user (citizen). In a broader sense, ‘e-governance’ is all about reform in governance facilitated by the creative use of ICT.

India’s e-Governance Transformation Initiatives India’s e-governance transformation initiatives started in the 1990s. Since then the country has made considerable progress in the information and communication technology sector. To improve IT performance and productivity, the Government of India approved the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP)3 on May 18, 2006 which seeks to improve delivery of government services to citizens and business establishments with the vision to “make all government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realise the basic needs of the common man”.e-Governance has become the basic requirement to any form of governance at the local, regional, national or international level. While the 1980s saw the development of computerisation in the government sector, the 1990s witnessed the importance of overall computerisation with a centralised model in India. With the cost of communication and IT infrastructure going downwards and demand going upwards, the e-governance initiatives took shape in the decade of 2000s. Thus the government sponsored e-governance projects with the corporate world took a big leap to provide the impetus for longterm growth of e-governance within the country. Demands generated from political leadership, capacity building needs, and perceived citizen expectations all have contributed to IT innovations. At the state level, many state governments started off their initiatives in the same period by taking up projects to serve their people through ICT. Today every state has a State Electronic Mission (SEM) to provide e-government services to the citizens. India’s e-governance transformation has been progressing rapidly. By 2013, over one billion e-government transactions have been logged and growth rate is rising exponentially.The government has taken several initiatives in the journey from e-governance vision to implementation. Some purposeful steps and initiatives from vision to implementation include:

1. Thirty one Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) across a wide range of public services such as passport seva, e-procurement digitisation of land records, national citizen database, etc.
2. Eight e-Government Support Components to help set up the required infrastructure (State Wide Area Network, State Data Centres, Common Service Centres, etc.) with technical and financial partnership with the private sector.
3. e-Government Management Structure comprising multiple committees to resolve bottlenecks and oversee programme execution.

Today with the launch of State Electronic Mission and under the State Data Centre guidelines, inclusion of ‘Citizen Services under Governance’ has become a necessity in every State/UT. The Mee Seva of Andhra Pradesh, Nimmadi of Karnataka, e-Sampark in Chandigarh, Friends in Kerala, Beti Vidhao in Gujarat, Haryana Land Records Information System, i-Bhu-Goal in Bihar, e-Payment Gateway (GOI), Online Monitoring of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (GOI), Electronic Bank Realization Certificates (GOI), Passport Seva Project (GOI) and similar projects have started bearing fruit in the form of acceptance by end-user citizens. With Mobile penetration at the grassroots level and under user’s acceptance to small applications, governments at all levels in India are moving towards e-governance on mobile as well.6 Mobile telephony is revolutionising the outreach of Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and that of the government in both remote areas and in populated parts of the country. It offers one of the most effective channels for information access and dissemination anytime, anywhere, and can help governments provide citizen-centric public service.

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India’s base of nearly 125 million Internet users is currently the thirdlargest in the world. In the recent past, e-governance in India has successfully penetrated deeper and wider across various Central and state government departments than ever before. The journey of e-governance is guided and empowered by the 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) which acts as a powerful driving force for today’s presence of e-governance in all government ministries and departments. Some standard programmes and projects at the state and central levels which offer e-governance services to citizens include : certificates, licenses, land records, utility services and tax payments, (health, education and pension), RTI and grievance, public distribution system, election, police, agriculture, local government service, employment, industry and commerce, property registration, passport and visa and state specific services.

Before the era of e-governance, government delivery of services was manual and opaque which caused great difficulties to the citizens. Scenes of overcrowded government offices, long queues, employee absenteeism, arrogant and rent seeking attitudes and inefficiencies were a common sight. It appeared that the focus of employees was more on corrupt practices than on citizen’s service delivery. Government land and other registration records, birth and death registration, municipal permission, etc. which were essential aids in getting benefits under welfare programmes remained buried in files. Citizens faced hardships in having access to government services because of the tedious office procedure, and longer time lags. e-Governance has now been widely recognised as an important means for transformational improvement in quality, efficiency and effectiveness of governance the world over. There is now a noticeable progress in the delivery of e-governance services in both developed and developing countries at the International level. However, the greatest impact of egovernance is felt in remote areas where citizens usually face immense challenges in getting any public service. In Nagaland which is cut off from advanced stage of development by mountainous terrains, for example citizens wanting to apply for the Nagaland Public Service Commission (NPSC) recruitment examinations used to traverse a difficult terrain for several hours to the NPSC office in the capital city just to collect the application form. Since the NPSC went online almost two years ago, applicants save considerable time and money while applying for the NPSC examination. The United Nations e-Governance Survey 2013 reported that many countries have put in place e-governance initiatives and information and communication technology applications for the people to further improve efficiency and effectiveness and also further streamline governance systems to create synergy for inclusive sustainable development. But India does not show much progress on e-governance front when compared with countries such as Republic of Korea, Singapore, Japan, Israel, Malaysia, the USA, the UK, France and Canada. These countries rank high at the global level and have robust e-governance delivery mechanisms. According to the 2012 United Nations Survey rankings based on e-Governance indices, the Republic of Korea is the world leader (0.9283) followed by the Netherlands (0.9125), the UK (0.8960) and Denmark (0.8889), with the US, Canada, France, Norway, Singapore and Sweden close behind. India lags at a lowly rank of 125 out of 190 countries surveyed with an index of 0.3829.


A large government machinery with its multiple agencies and bureaucratic legacies in place has been set up to address the needs of governing at the national and state levels.9 The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) which is funded by Planning Commission of the Government of India and the Union Ministry of Finance seeks to lay the foundation and provide the impetus for long-term growth of e-governance within the country. Institutional Network at National Level Structural mechanisms for the implementation of the e-Governance agenda at the national level comprise the following outlay.

(i) Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY): The function and role of DeitY include national level strategy and policy-making, programme monitoring and project implementation, managing NeGP, serving as a secretariat to the Apex Committee, assisting National e-Governance Advisory Group and Prime Minister’s Office and implementing infrastructure projects such as State Data Centre (SDC), State
Wide Area Network (SWAN), National e-Governance Service Delivery Gateway (NSDG), e-District MMP, etc.

(ii) National Informatics Centre (NIC): The NIC which is attached to the DeitY acts as a frontrunner in the development of initial e-governance interface systems in a large number of departments both at the Centre and states.

(iii) Ministries and Departments: Departments are responsible for the implementation of the assigned Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and other IT projects in the respective ministries and departments.

(iv) Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DAR & PG): The DAR & PG in collaboration with the DietY plays vital roles including identification and prioritisation of e-governance projects, formulation of strategy for change management, human resource development and training, awareness building and defining organisational structures for public service delivery.

(v) Planning Commission (PC): The PC of the Government of India undertakes holistic strategic planning and along with Ministry of Finance allocates for NeGP through plan and nonplan budgetary provisions. Recently the Commission has set up an Empowered Sub-Committee for e-Governance Reforms as mandated by the National Development Council (NDC).

(vi) Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC): As an R & D institution, the CDAC is involved in the design, development and deployment of advanced Information Technology based solutions. It also assists the DeitY in taking major initiatives in the area of e-governance and offers solutions and services.

(vii) Directorate of Standardisation, Testing, Quality and Certification (STQC): The Directorate of the STQC has established itself as a premier organisation for quality assurance in the field of electronics and information technology providing testing, calibration, training and certification services through its network of test laboratories.

(viii) Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA): The function of the CCA is to promote e-governance through the wide use of digital signatures.

(ix) National Institute for Smart Government (NISG): The NISG has been established to provide an institutional mechanism for bringing together competencies and resources from leading private sector players into e-governance projects. The NISG is also responsible for conceptualisation and development of core scoping of e-governance projects, HR development including capacity building and specialised training.

(x) Media Lab Asia (MLAsia) and NeGD: In collaboration with research institutions, industry, NGOs and government, the MLAsia aims to develop culturally appropriate and sustainable technologies for e-governance solutions. The NeGD which is an independent business division under the MLAsia not only provides technical assistance to the DeitY, central line ministries and states but also undertakes appraisal of egovernance projects. It also functions as a central agency for implementation of the capacity building plan.

Institutional Network at State / UT Level Institutional mechanisms for the implementation of the e-governance projects and programmes at the state and UT levels comprise the following outlay.

(i) State and UT Governments: The State and UT governments are responsible for implementation of State MMPs / Sector specific MMPs of NeGP under the line ministries. Most States/ UTs have set up an institutional mechanism in line with the guidelines of DietY comprising e-Governance Council headed by the Chief Minister, apex committee headed by the Chief Secretary and department-level committees headed by departmental heads.

(ii) Department of IT/e-Governance: The Department of IT/e- Governance is generally headed by the Principal Secretary/ Secretary IT/e-Governance and is responsible for state-wide e-governance programme management, review of the progress of ongoing projects and programme and their review and appraisal.

(iii) State NIC: The State NIC is involved in application development and providing technical assistance to line departments and reports to the NIC at the Centre. e-Governance Societies and Nodal Agencies: State level-e- Governance Societies and Nodal Agencies provide consultancy, procurement services and implementation support to the state government departments for their e-Governance initiatives.

(v) State e-Governance Mission Teams (SeMTs): The SeMTs funded through the capacity building scheme of the Government of India have been put up in place for providing technical and programme level support to the States/UTs.

(vi) Project e-Mission Teams (PeMTs): The PeMTs are the project level teams to monitor and oversee the project execution. It may be mentioned here that the institutional mechanism under the supervision of the apex committee, the State DIT with assistance from SeMT manages programmes while the departmental committee with support from PeMT manages e-governance projects at the state level. Some state governments like Andhra Pradesh have set up District e- Governance Societies at the district level. Such societies are registered and empowered to function as nodal agencies for the implementation of egovernance projects such as Mee Seva in the districts of Andhra Pradesh.


The NeGP, formulated by the Department of Electronics and Informations Technology (DeitY) and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DAR & PG), has been playing an important role in the identification and prioritisation of e-governance projects in the country. The NeGP seeks to lay the foundation and provide the impetus for long-term growth of e-governance within the country. It comprises 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) which are further classified as state, Central or integrated projects. Implementation, strategy, approach and methodology of the NeGP have the following key elements:

(i) Public Private Partnerships: Service to citizens is based upon public private partnership under the e-governance plan. PPP is intended to pool in resources, expertise and experience.

(ii) Common Support Infrastructure: To carry out e- overnance plan, common IT infrastructure such as State Wide Area Networks (SWANs), State Data Centres (SDCs), Common Services Centres (CSCs) and electronic service delivery gateways are set up.

(iii) Governance: Implementation strategy for the MMPs includes governance standards and policy guidelines, technical support, capacity building, R&D and strengthening DeitY, NIC, STQc Directorate, CDAC, NISG, etc.

(iv) Centralised Initiative, Decentralised Implementation: To ensure citizen-centric orientation, with inter-operability of various e-governance applications ensuring optimal utilisation of ICT infrastructure and resources, NeGP envisions taking up centralised e-governance initiatives and a decentralised implementation.

(v) Integrative Approach: The NeGP envisions adopting programme approach at the national and state levels with welldefined roles and responsibilities of each agency involved through appropriate programme management structures. Further, the NeGP adopts unique identification codes for citizens, business and property to facilitate integration and avoid ambiguity. Manipur state in the North East, for example, has integrated the state portal with the Mobile Service Delivery Gateway (MSDG) of the Government of India for information exchange through text messages as well as with the National Payment Gateway for e-payment.

Here, it may be mentioned that the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) at the national level is the principal institution for policy-making in e-governance and provides assistance in process re-engineering and change management. Ministries which spearheaded several MMPs may also align any ongoing projects to the states with provision of flexibility. Each state government can also define MMPs specific to its requirements. In brief, National e-Governance Plan aims at taking up e-governance initiatives across the country, integrating them into a collective vision and a shared cause at Central and state government levels to bring public services closer to citizens. State e- Governance Service Delivery Gateways (SSDG) provides standard-based message switching, seamless interoperability and exchange of data across independent and diverse entities of the states, and Department/Ministry/ Domain specific Gateways (DSDG) facilitate the interoperability within a local administrative body.

The government at all levels in India has the aim to work to alleviate poverty (nearly 35% of the country’s total population of 1250 million live on less than $ 2 a day) improve education and health situation, stem corruption and implement economic and social reforms. Delivering public services effectively is essential to maintain confidence in democratic government.11 Governments in business and performance generally control a broad array of decisions and information related to economy, polity and such areas as health, education, social welfare programmes, etc. As part of good governance, governments ought to provide high quality services to all segments of the society, especially when large or demographically diverse areas are involved. Government departments and public sector employees can improve service delivery by using e-governance mechanisms including geographic information system (GIS) with a view to optimise resource deployment. For example, health departments and emergency services could use geospatial services to pinpoint the best locations for dispatch facilities or hospitals based on projected ambulance transport time. Governments can also use GIS to determine which locations are most in need of specific services. In Chandigarh, for instance, citizens can report municipal problems, such as vandalised or damaged public property, through its Citizens Club/ Connect Programmes. Users can identify issues through the Programme’s Website or call centre, or by using a mobile application.

The image of governance is created by the performance of land administration, which is facilitated by the state revenue department through maintenance of land records, registration of property transactions and updating of records through mutations and cadastral maps. To improve accessibility, to check frauds and increase efficiency of the land records system, the Government of India has launched National Land Record Modernization Programme (NLRMP) with a primary objective of end-toend computerisation of land records, and subsequently migration from the existing presumptive titling system to a conclusive titling system. In Haryana, the workflow based property registration information system (HARIS) and land records information system (HALRIS) were standardised, stabilised and dynamically integrated to reflect the impact of registration of land on Jamabandi and to provide authenticated and secure a copy or Nakal of Record of Right (ROR) services to citizens.


There has been an ongoing pursuit and effort on the part of the government to make governance effective for its citizens in terms of delivery government has to face several difficulties. The challenge faced by the supporters of IT initiatives in India is the limited scope of expansion of the Service Catalogue to cover a varied range of services. The underlying reason for this is the style of IT implementation by service provider agencies wherein individual processes are automated. Further, the main link of interdepartmental information exchange is largely missing and is left to the end-user to bridge by manual means leading to rework at the customer end. There is an urgent need to work at the citizen solution level at each government agency in order to build an interface layer to facilitate the information flow.

Besides these issues, the country has several challenges and contextual factors which form the milleu in which improvements in good governance and now e–governance are sought to be brought about.14 The large population with diversity of cultures and demography brings up its own challenges. Furthermore, internal migrations to urban regions with relatively better facilities and employment opportunities create additional burden on delivery mechanisms of government services. The challenges are further accentuated due to large sections of the population being poor, the Indian economy being at different stages of growth in different sectors and the administrative structure being fragmented. Today, governments worldwide are making use of ICT including egovernance methods to deliver end-to-end services right at the citizen’s doorstep with efficiency, transparency and cost effectiveness. e-Governance is increasingly seen as one of the most important mechanisms to improve governance. With e-governance applications there has been a noticeable progress in the delivery of outline services in most countries around the world. The United Nations e-Governance Survey 2013 reported that nearly all countries have put in place e-governance initiatives for the people to further enhance public sector efficiencies and streamline governance systems to support sustainable development. The overall conclusion that stems from the United Nations e-Governance Survey is that governments need to place greater emphasis on ‘institutional linkages’ between and among tiered government structures in a bid to create synergy for inclusive sustainable development. e-Governance services, indeed, have empowered ordinary citizens.

(Source-R.K. SAPRU AND YUDHISHTHIRA SAPRU, IIPA Journal, April-June 2014)

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