By Ankit Sharma, Siddhartha Law College, Dehradun.
Today’s world is one of transformation and revolution. Things which are not dynamic are considered as mortal. The rise of e-government has been one of the most striking developments of the web. There are many definitions so as to explain what E-governance is but the real cause of this article will get deflected if I will focus on the complexities of the terminology. It is very often seen that a government makes a policy and forgets about the implementation and execution of the policies with effective and efficient ways and measures. Feedback is a major component which is needed for better control and coordination of any policy framework or formulation which is still under a developing stage as far as the mob of India is concerned where half of the people are living in villages and literacy is an essential factor in its success.
Online working of a government or providing its services online to its citizens at their door step is known as E-Governance. E-Governance is E-Commerce technology which means online availability of government services. The technology and the methods used in E-Governance project provide a roadmap for efficient delivery of services at the door step. In today’s time the development of any country depends on the uses of E-Governance and also their saturation. Development of any country can be judged by the scope of E-Governance in the country. Moreover, the present government has full faith in E-Governance Performa and its widespread network across the world proves it. Due to widespread demand of E-governance and exponentially increasing size of data, new technologies like Open source solutions and cloud computing are needed to be incorporated.
Certainly E-Governance is not only popular in India but is global. To make working of government more efficient, responsive and transparent many developed and developing countries have taken some useful steps for the expansion of e-governance in their respective countries. Countries like UK, USA, New Zealand, Brazil etc. are in the race of e-governance enactment.
India started it by AHSHAYA in Kerala. The project involves setting up of around 5000 multipurpose community technology centers called Akshaya e- Kendra’s across Kerala, run by private entrepreneurs, each e-Kendra set up within 2-3 kilometers of every household, will cater to the requirements of around 1000-3000 families to make available the power of networking and connectivity to common man.
E-Government and E-Governance
The term governance needs to be understood before we move on to e-government and e-governance. Governance is not the exclusive preserve of the government but it extends to civil society and the private sectors also. It covers every institution and organization from family to state. It involves exercise of political, economic and administrative authority to manage the affairs in, and “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development”.
It can be better understood as, “the complex mechanisms, processes, relationships and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations and mediate their differences”.
The two terms- e-government and e-governance are independent of each other, but are at times used alternatively, there by the major distinction between e-government and e-governance is missed out. E-government is understood as the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to promote more efficient and cost effective government, facilitate more convenient government services and allow greater public access to information, and make government more accountable to citizens, whereas governance is a wider term which covers the state’s institutional arrangements, decision making processes, implementation capacity and the relationship between government officials and the public. E-governance is the use of ICT by the government, civil society and political institutions to engage citizens through dialogue and feedback to promote their greater participation in the process of governance of these institutions. Thus, e-government can be viewed as a subset of e-governance, and its focus is largely on improving administrative efficiency and reducing administrative corruption.
E-Government Initiatives in India
The Government of India started the use of IT in the government in the right earnest by launching number of initiatives. First the Government approved the National E-Governance Action plan for implementation during the year 2003-2007. The plan is an attempt to lay the foundation and provide impetus for long-term growth of e-governance within the country. The Government has given approval in-principle to the plan and overall programme content; implementation approach and governance structure. While endorsing the plan, it was observed that: weight age must be given for quality and speed of implementation in procurement procedures for IT services; suitable system of motivating the states for quick adoption be incorporated; provision of delivery of services to the citizens through a single window should be encouraged; Out sourcing of services wherever and whenever feasible; efforts be made to promote and develop public private partnerships to utilize the full potential of private sector investments; and connectivity should be improved and extended up to the block level in the states. Apart from the action plan, the following measures have also been introduced:
- Adoption of “Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 by the Government of India to provide legal framework to facilitate electronic transactions. The major aims of this act are to: recognize electronic contracts, prevents computer crimes, and make electronic filing possible. The Act came into force on 17 October, 2000;
- Establishment of the National Taskforce of Information Technology and Software Development in May 1998;
- Creation of Centre for e-governance to disseminate the best practices in the area of e- governance for the use by the Central and State Governments.
While e-government encompasses a wide range of activities, we can identify three distinct areas. These include government-to-government (G to G), government-to-citizens (G to C), and government to business (G to B). Each of these represents a different combination of motivating forces. However, some common goals include improving the efficiency, reliability, and quality of services for the respective groups. In many respects, the government to government (G to G) sector represents the backbone of e-government. It is felt that governments at the union, state and local level must enhance and update their own internal systems and procedures before electronic transactions with citizens and business are introduced. Government to government e-government involves sharing data and conducting electronic exchanges between various governmental agencies. There are number of advantages with government-to-government initiatives. One benefit with this is cost savings, which is achieved by increasing the speed of the transactions, reduction in the number of personnel necessary to complete a task, and improving the consistency of outcomes. Another advantage, which flows from this, is improvement in the management of public resources.
Certainly I support the view that a government must be aware about the happenings in the grass roots of the society so that it can work more efficiently apart from that the main objective of the E-governance which was to faster the processes in government but normally took more than the estimated time prescribed for the accomplishment of the public work ,moreover it provided a link to directly connect the hierarchy of government with the people who are trying to reach the authorities and have their say recognized and acknowledged.
“Better use of resources leads to development”