Current Public Administration Magazine (July - 2016) - Good Governance Through e-governance with Special Reference to India

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Information and Communication Technology

Good Governance Through e-governance with Special Reference to India


Implementation of the e-governance services requires the focus on three prerequisites: (i) human capital and capacity building structures; (ii) well defined institutional structures with clear roles, responsibilities and accountability; (iii) widespread access to technology platforms with focus on initiatives of (a) internet adoption, (b) cloud enablement, (c) open data initiatives, and (d) cyber security. India’s e-governance transformation has been progressing rapidly since 2006 when the Indian government launched a vision for stronger delivery of citizen services through the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). While the country is grappling with host of human capital, structural and technological challenges, there are success stories to share. But India has a long way to reach standards of e-governance. The country must accelerate its e-governance movement from vision to broad-based and effective implementation. The way forward lies in increasing the demand for egovernance services, both by driving up internet adoption and through creating more focused offerings. For this, India’s e-governance missions need to clearly identify their implementation functions, and create empowered, focused leaders with teams held accountable for their delivery.


Despite e-governance initiatives from a service management perspective in recent past, e-governance applications developed to meet the immediate requirements have not been satisfactory due to following reasons:

(i) Complex procurement processes of the government departments;
(ii) Lack of expertise and guidelines to handle complex procurement and development of application software; and
(iii) Lack of reusability of e-governance applications.

In order to address the complexity of issues, the Government of India envisages:

(i) speeding-up the development and deployment of e-governance applications;
(ii) replication of successful application across states to avoid duplication of effort and cost in development of similar applications; and
(iii) availability of certified applications at one place.

Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DietY) of the Government of India has in recent years embarked on setting up its own Cloud (Meghraj) to host an e-GovAppStore which could act as a common platform to host and run the applications at National Cloud.20 Such application can be easily customised and configured for reuse by various other government organisations without investing efforts in developing afresh. If a project is already in operation in a similar environment somewhere in the country and is classified ‘good’, acceptance by all concerned is much faster and smoother. For an effective digital delivery of public service that is device-agnostic and low cost, governments will have to architect systems for interoperability and openness within a citizencentric model.


Government at one level with extensive e-governance experience may have adequate information, skills and resources needed to implement new initiatives rapidly. Those with less experience may find it useful to proceed in phases, running pilots and developing detailed business cases before building capabilities at scales. This approach can allow governments at other levels to build robust databases and supporting systems before building large-scale projects. Governments may have different capability levels and objectives for e-governance programmes, but they can all benefit from three ways: sharing data across public organisations; pursuing partnership with the private sector; and promoting citizen co-creation.

Disseminating and Sharing Information

Most public sector organisations complain that it is difficult to exchange data with other organisations. This obstacle limits the value of e-governance analysis which requires multiple agencies to contribute to current valuable data, including information on demographics, health care and educational services, travel and transport terrain and other aspects of the economy.21 In many cases information sharing is difficult because government departments rely on different data sources and computer platforms. Getting all groups and institutions to agree on a uniform approach to data collection and management would facilitate development, but this may not be possible in decentralised systems where agencies operate autonomously. If governments tend to create uniform platforms for disseminating and information sharing, they also consider instituting safeguards in order to ensure that data are adequately protected. For example, data sets could be classified into levels based on sensitivity. The lower layers would be accessible to many other organisations, with progressive access restrictions for higher layers. With such protections in place, departments might be more willing to share relevant data. In such a information exchange environment governments not only reduce costs but also save time by establishing a centralised system that oversees joint projects between departments and helps all involved personnel find information more easily, “Mee Seva” (in Telugu literally translates to ‘At your service’) initiative of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, for example, aimed at service to citizens. It has been conceptualised and planned with the objective to provide universal and non-discriminatory delivery of all government services, using information and communication technology. Mee Seva provides faster, easier and transparent access to various G2C services through more than 7000 + Kiosks (run by self employed youth in the remote corners of the state). The project has been integrated with external and internal government ICT systems, such as: (i) Centralised Card for Registration Department, (ii) WEBLAND for Revenue Department, (iii) ISES certificates (for caste, income and nativity) and Universal Birth and Death certificate for Municipalities and Panchayats, (iv) Centralised CDMA (Commissioner and Director of Municipal Administration).

Pursuing Partnerships with Private Sector

Many public and private organisations are pursuing e-governance initiatives in several fields, and there may be some overlap between their efforts.22 Building partnerships across relevant organisations and sectors can allow different groups to pool their material, financial and personnel resources, thereby reducing redundancy and helping to catalyse better insights. In the sphere of health care, this is quite common. In some states, municipal governments have partnered with multiple external groups on e-governance services for public service delivery.

The successful partnerships typically involve two or more parties that are equally interested in the project. Rather than simply exchanging data, they are willing to meet and share ideas about questions to get at solutions. It also helps if both parties have compatible computer systems, or at least use the same data sets, since they will otherwise have difficulty in sharing information. Unique Identification Project (UID), for example, was initially conceived by the Planning Commission (GOI) as an initiative that UID aims to empower residents of India with a unique identity and a digital platform to authenticate anytime, anywhere. The core values of UID include “Integrity, commitment to inclusive nation building collaborative approach.” The mission of the UID was to “encourage innovation and provide a platform for public and private agencies to develop Aadhaar linked applications”. It was to “collaborate with partners and service providers in leveraging Aadhaar to serve residents effectively, efficiently and equitably”.

Promoting Citizen Co-creation

Compiling and analysing data is a tedious task. But governments can reduce some of the complications by promoting citizen involvement in many ways. The Deputy Commissioner in the District could call on citizens to report problems in their neighbourhoods, such as damaged public property. Although governments cannot mandate participation, they may find that public interest is high and that people want to be part of the solution, especially for problems that concern their own neighbourhoods. Governments could also encourage citizen participation by offering them competitions or ‘hack-a-thons’ in which computer programmes develop geospatial applications based on public data. If governments choose to garner information from the public, it might be helpful to create a central database of all reports, which will provide officials of the departments with an integrated view of the issues that matter to constituents. A central database can also enhance efficiency by reducing response time and making it easier to analyse data. Call centres in the rural or urban areas will map requests and can see where calls of specific types are coming from and also makes this data available to the public. Citizens only need to know one phone number or Website to receive help from all city agencies. Governments would need to create trust-based relationships with citizens and businesses through greater transparency and accountability by setting up a foundational infrastructure for key digital services.


e-Governance has been recognised as a vital force for transformational improvement in quality, efficiency and effectiveness of governance. Nearly all governments of the world are now moving from the traditional way of handling administrative tasks to e-governance applications to meet the expectations of the growing populations. The importance of e-governance has been recognised and applied at the highest level in the country. The government departments are now offering information and transactions services through their websites on the internet. In this way these websites will be the primary touch points for the citizens. Although sets of organisations have been set up and several strategies, programmes and initiatives are currently at different stages of operationlisation, the country lags at a lowly rank of 19 out of 57 in terms of the range of e-governance offerings. This shows that India’s limited success with e-governance is not entirely due to a lack of offerings, but due to some fundamental barriers. These include the limited availability of internet infrastructure, high cost of access and usage, lack of awareness and low digital literacy, narrow range of applications and services and an unfavourable business environment. Successful leveraging of e-governance opportunity, therefore, involves building of institutional capabilities, adopting and implementing a sound e-governance policy, and deepening the use of technology platforms. There is the need to look at present e-governance initiatives from management perspective of ‘good governance’ wherein a citizen needs to have a channel of requesting a service, i.e. a service as per citizen demand.


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