(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Citizen Participation and Rural Well-being
Citizen Participation and Rural Well-being
- The building blocks of good governance are citizen participation and civic engagement, and e-governance is the critical component of good governance. Regarding rural development, it is essential to focus on sustainable governance, considering its contribution to national income (nearly 50 percent) and about 70 percent workforce residing in rural areas. The rural sector is more of an agri-based economy and contributes to the rural livelihood; and hence it deserves better facilities, including health, education, drinking water, sanitation, housing, employment opportunities, and an overall better standard of living.
e-Governance and Rural Economy
- e-Governance is a mechanism through which public services are made available and accessible to the common man at their doorstep at ease, through common services delivery outlets. It further ensures services’ efficiency, transparency, and reliability at affordable prices. e-Governance is ICT friendly which establishes connections between providers and users of government services.
- The Government of India implemented National e-Governance Plan in 2006, especially for the rural areas by providing services including birth and death certificates, land registration, employment opportunities, market-related information, farming, and veterinary services, education and matrimonial along with a special effort to capture the information about the people below the poverty line.
Dimensions of Rural e-Governance:
- Rural e-governance is the core of the socio-economic development of the rural economy and so also the Indian economy. The effectiveness and impact of rural e-governance is measured through various dimensions. The various dimensions of e-governance in the rural sector are: ICT infrastructure, access to e-government services, mobile first, e-literacy, usage behaviour, localized content, employment and productivity, participatory governance, grievance redressal, and inclusion.
- The role and importance of ‘participatory governance and citizen participation’ played a vital role in the e-governance dimensions mapping process. Over all, these dimensions are required to be strengthened and rebooted to get the best outcome and optimisation of public policy, designed for developing the rural economy.
Citizen Participation and Governance:
- Citizen participation is essential in all public policy-making, especially in e-governance, designed for rural areas. Citizen participation has a significant role in shaping and transforming ‘governance into good governance’, which is the need of the hour.
a) Citizen as a customer: Citizen is considered as a valued customer as public services are meant for public use and consumption. Hence as a consumer, citizen participation and their feedback is very essential in designing public services and ensuring quality service delivery at an affordable cost.
b) Citizen as an owner: In a democratic set-up, citizens are the real owners of public services and even they are considered as investors in public services as they contribute through taxes, etc. As an owner, citizen involvement is essential, and he/she must seek information about public services and delivery.
c) Citizen as a co-producer: Citizens are often asked to play the role of co-producer in providing public services. Citizens are expected to act as a partner; hence their involvement and participation will improve the quality and timely delivery of services.
d) Citizen as a quality evaluator: Being the co-producer and consumer, the citizen can become the evaluator of the public services quality and their delivery effectiveness. Thereby he/she can contribute the government in designing better e-governance facilities and suitable public policy.
Benefits of Citizen Participation:
- e-Governance is the need of the hour and that helps in providing the basic facilities to the rural sector at low-cost and with least time. The benefits of e-governance can be reached to the last mile with the help of people’s participation and rural empowerment. Overall awareness, accountability and ownership of actions, and a sense of voluntarism among the citizens will strengthen the public policy process and will set the ground for good governance.
Active participation in policy-making will open-up array of benefits:
- Citizen participation helps in the smooth formulation and implementation of public policy. It helps in transparency and makes citizens more accountable and responsible.
- Citizen participation in e-governance will enhance the projects’ efficiency and efficacy. It develops a sense of belongingness and upholds ownership. Engaging the public in creating policy directly impact them is one method to assure accountability.
- Participation and contribution of various stakeholders, individuals, communities, political parties, and government agencies will reduce the conflicts and confusion and make it more coherent. Thereby, it will become more people-driven, participatory, and meaningful.
- It will lessen the political will-based e-governance and help in bringing more inclusiveness and positive outcomes. It will help in improving the political positioning marginalised and vulnerable groups, those are often neglected or not taken into consideration.
- It will help in developing long-term sustainable e-governance and outcome-focused initiatives.
- It will help in community empowerment, leading to better awareness and superior monitoring.
- e-Governance initiatives have been recognized to have a transformational effect on the digital landscape in providing public services. Their deliveries to the masses are especially effective in rural India. It remains the key enabler in the realisation of government mandate. Thereby helping ease the life and living standard of people and bridging the digital divide. It is expected that outcome of e-governance will be optimised through active citizen participation.
- The vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy can be accomplished only through citizen participation and engagement. Citizen participation includes the participation of all types, including political, policy, and social participation. Bringing individuals, institutions, corporates, and governments together is the key mandate of inclusiveness and sets the agenda for e-governance. The collaborative approach of policy-making emphasises more on citizen participation and ownership of actions. This will surely reduce socio-economic stress, minimise deprivation, and help overall development. A variety of services can be delivered in rural areas with collaborations with all the stakeholders, with maximum citizen participation.