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E-Governance: Definition, Government Initiatives, Advantages and Disadvantages (GS-2)

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E-Governance

e-Governance is understood as the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at all the level of the Government in order to provide services to the citizens, interaction with business enterprises and communication and exchange of information between different agencies of the Government in a speedy, convenient efficient and transparent manner. Users can find detailed information about e-Governance, National Conference on e-Governance, GATI e-services, awards scheme, etc.

Government Process Re-engineering using IT to simplify and make the government processes more efficient is critical for transformation to make the delivery of government services more effective across various government domains and therefore needs to be implemented by all Ministries/ Departments.

The guiding principles for reforming Government through technology are:

  • Form simplification and field reduction – Forms should be made simple and user friendly and only minimum and necessary information should be collected.
  • Online applications and tracking – Online applications and tracking of their status should be provided.
  • Online repositories – Use of online repositories e.g. for certificates, educational degrees, identity documents, etc. should be mandated so that citizens are not required to submit these documents in physical form.
  • Integration of services and platforms – Integration of services and platforms e.g. Aadhaar platform of Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI), payment gateway, Mobile Seva platform, sharing of data through open Application Programming Interfaces (API) and middleware such as National and State Service Delivery Gateways (NSDG/SSDG) should be mandated to facilitate integrated and interoperable service delivery to citizens and businesses.
  • All databases and information should be in electronic form and not manual. The workflow inside government departments and agencies should be automated to enable efficient government processes and also to allow visibility of these processes to citizens. IT should be used to automate, respond and analyze data to identify and resolve persistent problems. These would be largely process improvements.

E-Governance in India

  • The origins of e-governance in India can be traced to the computerization initiatives of government in India in 1970s. Although at that time the focus was primarily on inter-connecting some important government offices and functions.
  • First step towards introducing e-governance in India was taken up in 1977 by setting up of National Informatics Centre in 1977.
  • A more comprehensive initiative in this regard was undertaken by the government in 2006 only. It is the first time when egovernance was introduced at wider scale all over the country. The Government approved the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) in 2006 which included 27 Mission Mode Projects.
  • In the year 2011, 4 new projects – Health, Education, PDS and Posts were added to this plan and now the number has increased to 31.
  • The Government has set up the vision, strategy, key components, and implementation scheme for National e-Governance Plan (NeGP).

Central Mission Mode Projects

 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been introduced in the government departments at the central level. Now, all the departments and ministries have their own websites and information relating to the e-governance services of the respective department/ministry is available on the website of that particular department/ministry which can be easily accessed by common man.

Banking

  • Nowadays, ATM channel, internet banking and mobile banking have made the banking services accessible at anytime and anywhere in India.
  • The transformation of consumer banking is driven by the convergence of banking and telecommunications players (including the Internet service providers) and Web portals.
  • New initiatives such as AADHAR, Swabhimaan, Mobile Payment Forum of India (MPFI), Micro-insurance etc., facilitated by the Government, the RBI and other regulators have brought financial inclusion”
  • The services under the Banking MMP include Electronic Central Registry, One India One Account-for public sector banks, Electronic Mass Payment System. Central electronic registry will be beneficial for both investors as well as borrowers.
  • To the investors, it will facilitate development of secondary mortgage market, portfolio of which will be electronically verified and therefore may prove as a safe security market.
  • Mobile phones can be used for  operating these bank accounts. A person who holds this account can easily deposit cash or withdraw it and even can transfer money using these accounts. Moreover, it will facilitate transfer of funds of various Government schemes like NREGA etc. In order to enable immediate operationalization of the framework, the following two ways of service access have been proposed:
  • Through a mobile based pin system using “Mobile Banking”.
  • Through a Biometric (fingerprint) based system using Unique Identification numbers issued by (Unique Identification Authority of India) UIDAI
  • Jan Dhan Yojna is another initiative of Government to ensure universal financial inclusion within a time framework.

Passport Seva

  • The Passport Seva Project was launched by the Ministry of External Affairs in 2010. The objective of the project is delivery of Passport Services with wider accessibility and reliability in an easy manner.
  • The project envisages setting up of a National Data Centre, a Disaster Recovery Centre, a nationwide common software application, a 24 x 7 call centre and opening of 77 Passport Seva Kendras across the country to increase the reach of the citizens.

Immigration, Visa and Foreigner’s Registration & Tracking (IVFRT)

 For bringing advancements and upgradations in the Immigration services, this MMP has been undertaken by the Ministry of Home Affairs under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). “The project aims at implementing a safe, secure and integrated service delivery system which facilitates authorized travelers with security.

Income Tax

The initiatives taken up by the income tax department have made it possible for the taxpayers to comply with the tax obligations on anywhere, anytime basis. Taxpayers need not visit the income tax office for paying the tax. This initiative has saved the time and visiting cost of the taxpayer.

Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA12)

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA21) project of e-governance was first launched in Coimbatore on February 18, 2006. The project ensures easy and secure online access to all the services to the agencies including stakeholders, corporate bodies, businesses, professionals who are authorized signatories of the companies, citizens and investors. Key services that can be availed through the MCA21 portal includes downloading of e-forms, registration and incorporation of new companies, Payment of Penalty fees, online tracking and redressal of investor grievance etc.

Pension

The pension Mission Mode Project (MMP) is aimed at making online accessibility of the information regarding pension/retirement, services and grievances handling mechanism to the needy pensioners.

e-Office

The idea behind the conceptualization of this project is based on the urge of eliminating the paper work in the government offices and replacing it with the electronic communication.  

Unique Identification (UID)

 “Unique identification project was initially conceived by the Planning Commission as identification for each resident across the country and would be used primarily as the basis for efficient delivery of welfare services.

Insurance

 This MMP has been incorporated under the NeGP with an objective of delivering insurance services to the customers’ in general insurance sector in more effective way.

Posts

 In 2011, four new mission mode projects were incorporated under the NeGP and posts MMP was one among them. Department of Posts has undertaken the task of modernization of postal services through computerization of the post offices as well as networking of all post offices. It will be achieved through setting up of a central server-based system and Computerized Registration Centers (CRCs).

Central Excise and Customs (CBEC)

The Central Excise and Customs (CBEC) has developed and deployed a software application called Automation of Central Excise and Service Tax (ACES). It is one of the Mission Mode Projects (MMP) under National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). It is a software application which aims at improving tax-payer services, transparency, accountability and efficiency in the indirect tax administration in India.

State Mission Mode Projects

 In order to promote e-governance at state level, state governments have taken up pragmatic initiatives towards e-governance. To provide delivery of online services to the citizens, roadmap has been drawn up for IT implementation. The projects that have been implemented are targeted towards providing (Government to Business) G2B, (Government to Citizen) G2C and (Business to Citizen) B2C services using local language. However, success of the projects implemented varies from state to state.

Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems

Ministry of Home Affairs has conceptualized this mission mode project under the NeGP to address the difficulties faced by the police personals while investigating criminal cases. Information Technology (IT) will facilitate easy recording, retrieval, analysis and sharing of Information. The implementation of the project enables the citizens to have access to the police station services through multiple channels. Citizens can also track the progress of their cases during trails. Advanced IT tools will enhance coordination and communication of the police stations with external stakeholders.

Agriculture

Several initiatives have been taken up at the central as well as state level to address the problems which are cropping in agriculture sector in the country. At present, various e-Governance schemes have been launched to deliver the benefits of G2C services to the famers both at State and Central levels. The main aim of the Agriculture MMP is to consolidate these IT initiatives, in order to provide integrated services to the stakeholders.

Public Distribution System

This project has also been recently incorporated as a mission mode project under the NeGP in 2011. “As per MMP guidelines, an institutional mechanism of an Empowered Committee (EC) and a Central Project e-Mission Team (CPeMT) for computerization of TPDS has been set up.

Education

The Mission Mode Project on Education sector envisages ensuring equity in higher education system especially the vulnerable sections of society are to be covered under this project. “Information and Communication Technologies need to be installed in rural and remote areas for effective implementation of flagship schemes of the Government of India – Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Rashtriya Madhayamik Shiksha Abhiyan, etc. MHRD is working on a National Policy on ICT in School Education to assist the states in optimizing the use of ICT in school education

Health

Health is one among four newly incorporated projects under the NeGP in 2011. The project envisions improving health service delivery using ICT for consistent and coherent flow of information across the units, effective planning, better synchronization, real-time monitoring and proper utilization of resources

Employment Exchange

The Employment Exchange MMP aims at improving the delivery of employment services rendered across the country through the employment exchanges.

e-Panchayat

With the objective of introducing and institutionalizing e-Governance in Panchayats, e-Panchayat was considered as a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under National e-governance plan (NeGP). Realizing the potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools in Panchayats will make these institutions more efficient, transparent and symbols of modernity. Moreover, the objective of transparency and accountability in the functioning of panchayats can be achieved through disclosure of information, social audit, efficient delivery of services and improving internal processes and management of Panchayats.

Municipalities

Introduction of e-governance in municipalities will assist municipal bodies to improve service delivery and ensure citizen participation in administrative arena. It also aims at better information management and transparency in governance. Services to be covered under project include: Registration and issuance of births and death certificates, payment of property tax, utility bills, water supply, grievances and suggestions, e-procurement, health programmes, solid waste management, personal information system, accounting system, licenses, procurement and monitoring of projects.

e-District

Most government to citizen interaction takes place at district level because bulks of citizen centric services are delivered at this level. e-District is one of the 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under National e Governance Plan (NeGP) which aims to integrate various departments of the districts to provide seamless services to the citizens. Three pillars of e-Governance infrastructure including State Wide Area Networks (SWAN), State Data Centre for secure data storage, and Common Service Centers (CSCs) are primary front-ends for service delivery

Road Transport

“The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has been facilitating electronic payments for toll collection, adaptation of IT applications to suit road transport needs, computerizing and electronically transfer of data, computerizing all Regional Transport Offices/State Transport Authorities and link them to the National and State Registers. Many IT based applications are used in road transport system.

National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP)

“National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP) has been carved out of two centrally sponsored schemes namely: Computerization of Land Records (CLR) & Strengthening of Revenue Administration and Updating of Land Records (SRA&ULR). The NLRMP envisions updated land records, automated and automatic mutation, integration between textual and spatial records, inter-connectivity between revenue and registration. Three major constituents of the project are Computerization of land record, Survey/re-survey and Computerization of Registration.

Police

This Mission Mode Project has been included in National e-Governance Plan in light of the ever-increasing threats of terror attacks. The vision of the project is “creation and sharing of crime-related databases across departments, effective personal management, and efficient inventory control”.

Integrated MMPs

National e-Governance Service Delivery Gateway (NSDG)

In order to realize the vision of the National e-Governance Plan, there is a need to cooperate, collaborate and integrate information across different departments in the Centre, States and Local Government. NSDG has the ability to exchange and use the information across heterogeneous applications of geographically dispersed entities.

India Portal

The portal has been designed, developed and hosted by the National Informatics Centre, through active collaboration from a large number of ministries, government departments and state/UT governments. All the departments, ministries at the central, state and district level in the country have developed their own websites.

e-Procurement

Government agencies should promote efficient and transparent practices in procurement of goods and services in order to lower cost of procurement. The vision of the e-procurement project is “To enhance the efficiency and transparency in public procurement through the implementation of a comprehensive e-procurement solution to be used by all government organizations in the State, including the public sector undertakings.” Ministry of Commerce & Industry has been nominated as the Nodal Ministry for implementation of e-Government Procurement (e-GP) Mission Mode Project.

e-Courts

e-Courts has been proposed to implement ICT in Indian judiciary in order to speed up the cases.

e-Biz

e-Biz has been pursued by the the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Government of India with an objective to create a single window for providing convenient and efficient services to the investors, businesses and industries. Starting a new business or setting up a new project requires multiple licenses/clearances and various services from multiple government agencies across various levels of government.

Common Services Centers

The Common Service Centers (CSCs) is a milestone of the National eGovernance Plan (NeGP), which introduce e-governance on a massive scale. The CSC is the strategic cornerstone in the successful implementation of the National e-governance Plan of India and a critical pillar to ensure successful e-Government roll out in the country. It was through these centres that the government wanted to make its services accessible to the rural poor.

Some Recent e-Governance Initiatives

Digital India Program

‘Digital India’ initiative, announced as flagship program in 2015 by Govt aimsto transform India into a digital economy with participation from citizens,businesses and promises to transform the country into a digitally empoweredsociety and a knowledge economy with high intellectual capital. Among thenine pillars of ‘Digital India’, the government has inter-alia stressed upon to:

  • Create Broadband Highways;
  • E-Governance – Reforming government through Technology;
  • eKranti – Electronic delivery of services.

Broadly Digital India initiative aims to help in achieving the vision of:

  • Digital Infrastructure as a Utility to Every Citizen
  • Governance & Services on Demand
  • Digital Empowerment of Citizens

Unified Payments Interface

Unified platforms and applications have been developed to promote and facilitate digital financial transactions by every stratum of citizens. Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is one such system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood. Introduction of Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app has enabled the masses to make digital financial transactions simpler, easier and quicker. Aadhaar number linked with mobile number makes the application an unique one.

Unified Mobile Application for New Age Governance (UMANG)

This application launched by the government provide a vast unified platform to citizens to access more than 200 e-Governance services from the Centre, States and even from local bodies and other private agencies on their mobile phone. UMANG services have been made available to the citizens in multiple channels like mobile app, web, IVR and SMS which can be accessed through smart phones, features phones, computers, and tablets. UMANG also untilises Aadhaar based authentication mechanism.

Government e-Marketplace (GeM)

Government e-Marketplace (GeM) has been introduced by the government aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement. It provides the tools of e-bidding, reverse e-auction and demand aggregation to facilitate the government users achieve the best value for their money.

e-Pramaan

e-Pramaan offers secure authentication with various levels of assurances by verifying the credentials of e-Pramaan users accessing different e-Governance services through internet or mobile devices. e-Praman provides uniformity in authentication method and eliminated to provide different types of identity proofs for accessing public services by the citizens. This application is benefitting the Lakhs of pensioners in the country.

MyGov citizen portal

Prime Minister launched an online platform mygov.nic.in to engage citizens in the task of “good governance” ( surajya ) as he completed 60 days in office on Saturday. MyGov is a technology-driven platform that would provide people with the opportunity to contribute towards good governance.

DigiLocker

 It serves as a platform to enable citizens to securely store and share their documents with service providers who can directly access them electronically.

DARPAN

 It is an online tool that can be used to monitor and analyze the implementation of critical and high priority projects of the State. It facilitates presentation of real time data on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of selected schemes/projects to the senior functionaries of the State Government as well as district administration.

PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation):

It has been aimed at starting a culture of Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation. It is also a robust system for bringing e-transparency and e-accountability with real-time presence and exchange among the key stakeholders. It was launched in 2015.

Mobile Seva

It provides government services to the people through mobile phones and tablets.

e-Kranti

National e-Governance Plan 2.0 It is an essential pillar of the Digital India initiative. It was approved in 2015 with the vision of “Transforming e-Governance for Transforming Governance”.  There are 44 Mission Mode Projects under e-Kranti, which are at various stages of implementation.

Thrust Areas of e-Kranti

e-Education: All schools will be connected to broadband. Free WiFi will be provided in all secondary and higher secondary schools (coverage would be around 250,000 schools).

  • PMGDISHA: Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan aims to make six crore people in rural India digitally literate.
  • SWAYAM: It includes Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) for leveraging e-Education. It provides for a platform that facilitates hosting of all the courses, taught in classrooms from Class 9 till post-graduation to be accessed by anyone, anywhere at any time.
  • e-Healthcare: e-Healthcare would cover online medical consultation, online medical records, online medicine supply, pan-India exchange for patient information, etc.
  • Farmers: This would facilitate farmers to get real-time price information, online ordering of inputs and online cash, loan, and relief payment with mobile banking.
  • Security: Mobile-based emergency services and disaster-related services would be provided to citizens on a real-time basis so as to take precautionary measures well in time and minimize loss of lives and properties.
  • Financial Inclusion: Financial inclusion shall be strengthened using mobile banking, Micro-ATM program, and CSCs/ Post Offices.
  • Justice: Interoperable Criminal Justice System shall be strengthened by leveraging several related applications, i.e. e-Courts, e-Police, e-Jails, and e-Prosecution.
  • Planning: National GIS Mission Mode Project would be implemented to facilitate GIS-based decision making for project planning, conceptualization, design, and development.
  • Cyber Security: National Cyber Security Co-ordination Centre has been set up to ensure a safe and secure cyber-space within the country.

Advantages of E-Governance

 Following are the advantages of E-Governance

  • Technology makes communication speedier. Internet, Phones, Cell Phones have reduced the time taken in normal communication.
  • Most of the Government expenditure is appropriated towards the cost of stationary. Paper-based communication needs lots of stationary, printers, computers, etc. which calls for continuous heavy expenditure. Internet and Phones makes communication cheaper saving valuable money for the Government.
  • Use of ICT makes governing profess transparent. All the information of the Government would be made available on the internet. The citizens can see the information whenever they want to see. But this is only possible when every piece of information of the Government is uploaded on the internet and is available for the public to peruse. Current governing process leaves many ways to conceal the information from all the people. ICT helps make the information available online eliminating all the possibilities of concealing of information.
  • Once the governing process is made transparent the Government is automatically made accountable. Accountability is answerability of the Government to the people. It is the answerability for the deeds of the Government. An accountable Government is a responsible Government.
  • E-Government brings public services to citizens on their schedule and their venue.
  • E-Government allows to redeploy resources from back-end processing to the front line of customer service.
  • E-Government improves the accessibility of government information to citizens allowing it become an important resource in the making the decisions that affect daily life and so it helps in empowerment of citizens

E-Governance: Major Issues in India

 E-governance is a big challenge before the government as it is difficult to provides serviceses to all citizens. Because of over population and wide spread poverty, it has been difficult for governments to provide the required fundamental facilities and education. Even geographical factors have separated the communities living in remote places from mainstream of the society. There are several problems in the effective implementation of e-governance projects which are as follows:

Technical illiteracy

As most of the information sources across the world are recorded in English language, people who are not English literates are likely to be deprived from information literacy. Also, the linguistic diversity has been a crucial impediment in balancing information access. Merely being educated does not make an individual a technology savvy and there is a requirement of providing knowledge and training on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills for the successful equalization to information access.

Poverty

Internet access is too expensive for the poor in India. Installing the necessary telephone lines needed for internet or email access is equally unaffordable. Economic divide has made particular section of the society unable to have information access as they cannot afford it. The equipment and facilities for accessing information through computer are not as inexpensive as the other mode of information .

Infrastructure

 Information and Communication Technology infrastructure is required to establish e-governance, especially in rural, hilly and far-flung areas which lack this infrastructure. The ICT facilities need to be developed and should be available to all citizens. Internet connection through satellite, telephone lines should be accessible for all specially to the people in rural and remote areas. Apart from that electricity is pre-requisite to carry out any technological activity.

Lack of awareness

 It is the prime factor in the utilization of e-governance services. Poor people are not aware of the various services available online to them due to lack of education and especially technical literacy. This can be improved by sensitizing the people through arranging several awareness camps or workshops at the local grass root levels.

Privacy and Security

“Citizens’ concern on privacy of their life and confidentiality of the personal data need to be technically supported. Privacy and confidentiality has to be highly valued in establishing and maintaining websites. An ideal Cyber Security Policy will ensure the existence of a sound and secure e-governance and critical infrastructure base in India. The security and safety of various ICT platforms and critical infrastructures in India must be considered on a priority basis before any e-governance base is made fully functional.

Political will power

E-governance means less interaction with government servants, which will be helpful in reducing corruption, red tapism, lack of transparency etc. Nowadays, corruption is a major concern and e-governance can help in bringing transparency in government processes. The strong objections of the government officers also need a careful and wise approach. This task may require an honest and strong will power of the politicians and leaders. Lack of political stability contributes to sustain the digital divide where as lack of government initiatives indirectly help increasing the digital gap.

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