In the colonial times, the conventional idea people carried about a Government was fixed to that of an unchallenged authority which restricted and controlled the lives of its citizens. However, with time, things changed and so did ideas and perceptions. Now the Government is seen as the ultimate benefactor responsible for extending services to its citizens just like an organization is responsible for the maintenance of a value chain that leads to output.
The National eGovernance Plan (NeGP) is an initiative adopted by the Government of India to enable its citizens, get an access to all government services via electronic media. The plan has been formulated by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, and the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances.
The NeGP comprises of 31 Mission Mode Projects, and eight components. It was approved by the Government of India on May 18, 2006.
According to the NeGp website , its goal is to “make all Public 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 realize the basic needs of the common man.”
Taking the last few decades into consideration, it has been observed that Information & Technology can make the value chain more productive by enhancing its quality and improving the cost savings. Also, it can make the provision of services to the citizens easier and transparent. Essentially, eGovernance is the implementation of Information and Communications Technology to government operations in order to develop a ‘Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent (SMART) governance’ as maintained by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (Eleventh Report).
The aforementioned report registers the successes and failures of e-Governance measures in India as well as at the global level. The statistics could be made use of to lay down the most effective methods and principles for the execution of this plan optimally.
Its Scope and Functionality
As the largest democracy in the world and one of the fastest developing economies, India has a lot to gain from this new model of governance. Therefore, to reach out to the maximum number of people, especially in the rural areas, the Government of India has established Common Service Centres. These CSCs are Information Communication Technology enabled front end service delivery points at village level, for the delivery of Public, Financial, Social and Private Sector services in the areas of agriculture, health, banking, insurance, education, entertainment, FMCG products, pension etc.
The CSCs are implemented on a public-private partnership, focussing on rural entrepreneurship and market mechanisms. These Centres have been set up by Service Centre Agencies (SCA), who are appointed by the State Designated Agencies (SDAs) through a transparent bid process. SCAs appoint Village Level Entrepreneurs to operate and manage the CSCs.
To facilitate better functionality of the CSC, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) named “CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd” has been incorporated under the Companies Act 1956. The SPV aims to:
- Ensure systemic viability & sustainability of the CSC Scheme
- Keep a check on achievements of the outcomes by the CSCs
- Enable delivery of G2C and B2C services through CSCs
- Furnish a standardized framework for collaborative decision making
- Construct stakeholder capacity and replicate best practices
The Role of DEITY
Department of Electronics, Information and Technology (DEITY) is the backbone of NeGP. It provides e-infrastructure for the delivery of e-services,and promotes manufacturing of electronic hardware, thus, encouraging innovation in the domestic realm of the country. The department also supports development of soft skills and knowledge network. Further to that, it renders security to India’s cyber space.
DEITY supports the employment of ICT for a more inclusive growth. It also works for the promotion of India’s eGovernance initiative at the global level.
The primary focus of the DEITY at present is digitizing of the country, especially villages; equipping them with good broadband connectivity. To achieve its target, it aids and collaborates with Private sectors who are willing to invest in such projects.
The Evolution of ‘Digital India’
Digitalization and eGovernance go hand in hand. ‘Digital India’ is a revolutionary initiative taken by the Government of India to shrink the gap between the government departments and the citizens of the country, with an aim of facilitating people with the best of services through hassle-free process. The plan has been formulated to fasten official procedures by reducing paper works. It also aims at connecting rural areas with high-speed internet networks. The three core components of Digital India are: building digital infrastructure, digital literacy and delivering services digitally.
This year in January, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated Akodara in Sabarkantha, a district of north Gujarat as the digital village to the nation. The project was undertaken by the ICICI Bank. The dedication was done online at a function held in Mumbai. The inauguration of the project marked the bank’s 60th anniversary. The best part of the inauguration was that only a few villagers of Akodara were present at the Mumbai function, while most of the villagers were in Akodar itself watching the function through video conference.
Yet another commendable step undertaken by the Government of India to fuel e-Governance is the introduction of eAadhar Card- a 12 digit individual identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India on behalf of the Government of India. This number will serve as a proof of identity and address, anywhere in India.
Looking at the recent status of the project, as many as 76.83 crore Aadhaar numbers have been generated as on February 15, and about Rs 5,512.18 crore has been spent until January this year.
Last but not the least, a mammoth product of eGovernance is the Smart City Project. A Smart City is “a city outfitted with high-tech communication capabilities. It uses digital technology to enhance performance and well being, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens.”
If a recent report by the Navigant Research is to be believed, the global smart city technology market holds the potential to grow $8.8 billion annually in 2014 to more than $27.5 billion by 2023.
Trendings in e-Governance
Chief Election Commissioner H S Brahma mentioned the possibility of voting online in the future.The first step in this direction is the Election Commission’s plan to make electoral rolls error free.
Commenting on the same, Brahma said,“Voting by internet is the next stage. The first step in the direction was the Election Commission’s ambitious plan to make the electoral rolls totally error free.” To access this news piece, click here.
The National Optical Fibre Network project aims to provide 100Mbps high-speed broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats by December 2016. About 5,000 villages have already been equipped with cable laying.
According to a report by the Financial Express, the Indian Government will soon launch a pilot project to boost the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) digitally, for greater and more effective implementation of this scheme through mobile monitoring system.
At the Rail Budget 2015, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has announced that wi-fi facilities would be provided at over 400 railway stations. source: The Business Today
Delhi Jal Board has launched an online grievance cell, which provides for “automatic escalation” of complaints, if they are not redressed in a time-bound manner.-The Asian Age
They Way Ahead
The concept of eGovernance has brought about a renaissance in the country’s socio-political and economic domains. The era of Globalization demands people and places to stay connected and strongly networked. To meet this clause, it is essentially important to transcend the conventional methods of functioning, and adopt an advanced model which would be faster, cost efficient and maintain better accountability and transparency. However, eGovernance in India is still at its workshop stage on the global parameters. Although the implementation of this model of governance had already picked up a start in 2006, the efficiency rate of the execution of this plan is still under observation. Nevertheless, the strategy of eGovernance ignites a hope amongst the citizens of India that with the effective exploitation of Information and Technology, basic areas of development like health,education and employment could be addressed with greater efficiency; bring the subalterns from the periphery to the centre; bridge the gap between the urban and rural areas and shrink the distance between the Government and its people.