E-Governance: Challenges and Advantages
The e-Governance or electronic governance means utilization of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) to carry out the functions and achieve the results of the governance. Governance has become very complex and the increasing expectations from the Government are the reasons for opting for e-governance. Due to changing world and the emergence of digitalization, e-governance has taken the upfront seat. It has become necessary that government initiatives reach the people on time and efficiently through the digitalization of governance.
People, Process, Technology, and Resources are the four prominent pillars of e-governance. Good governance ensures that all the people can reap the benefits of economic growth. One of the significant steps that the Government took in this regard is to educate the public regarding e-governance initiatives.
Evolution of e-Governance:
Among those developing countries, India has been an early country that adopted e-governance. In 1977, the National Informatics Centre (NIC) was the first initiative that has been taken up by the govt. Throughout the decade of 80s, efforts were made to link all the district headquarters. A lot of government officials started using computers during the late 1980s. But it was only in 1987 that there was the launch of the national satellite-based computer network and as a result, the e-governance agenda in India gained momentum. Moreover, at the beginning of the 90s, the technologies were increased by ICT and it reached out to the rural areas as well. NGOs and private sector participation also increased to a considerable extent during that time.
Types of Interaction in e-Governance:
There are the following four types of interactions in e-governance.
- G2G– (Government to Government) This model aims at sharing the information between Governments like sharing of information between the police departments of various States, Government document exchange, and so on.
- G2C– (Government to Citizen) This model aims at sharing the information between the Government and the citizens like online filing of complaints, payment of online bills of electricity, water, and so on.
- G2B– (Government to Business) This model aims at sharing information between Government and private sectors like sharing of rules and data, collection of taxes, approval of patents of companies, etc.
- G2E– (Government to Employees) This model aims at sharing the information between the Government and employees like employees can fill out all types of forms online.
Various e-Governance Projects:
- Smart Gov: It makes use of e-file instead of paper files. It is implemented in the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat. It is concerned with streamlining operations, knowledge management, and workflow automation.
- Khajane Project: It is a project undertaken by the Government of Karnataka. The project resulted in the computerization of the entire treasury data of the Government of the State. Some of the noticeable results are that the number of drawing officers was brought down to around 21,000 from 40000, nearly 2000 staff members were trained to handle the software, about 200 posts in the department of treasury have been abolished, and so on.
- Digital India Programme: This programme was started by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology. The program aimed at empowering the country by making it digitally developed. The program was implemented in different phases till 2018. The impact of the agenda is that overall 12,000 rural post offices have been linked electronically.
- e-Kranti Scheme: It aimed at the expansion of the internet, mobile phones, and computers to rural areas. The scheme includes the starting up of IT-based jobs in rural areas and also the linking of the internet to the remote villages of the country. There are 44 Mission Mode Projects under the e-Kranti program.
- e-Governance in municipalities: It is an initiative done under the umbrella of the overall National e-Governance Plan and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. The program is aimed at increasing the operational working of the Urban Local Bodies. According to NeGP, Government has decided on four infrastructural pillars for the implementation of e-governance- State Wide Area Network, State Data Centre, Common Service Centre, and Service Delivery Gateway.
- Public Distribution System: In PDS, there was the computerization of storage and movement of food grains, fair price shop automation, redressal of grievances, etc.
- e-Panchayats: The computerization of panchayat is done on a mission mode basis because the e-governance revolution has not touched the Panchayati Raj Institutions significantly. To improve the quality of governance in Panchayati Raj Institutions including 6094 Block Panchayats and 633 Zilla Panchayats, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India has initiated the e-governance scheme known as e-panchayats.
- Digi-Locker: It is an initiative introduced by the Government of India under the umbrella of Digital India. Important documents such as Aadhaar cards, mark sheets, and certificates can be digitally stored in Digi-locker. Aadhaar number is essentially required for using Digi-Locker. In 2016, there were 20.13 lakh users of the Digi Locker. The main purpose behind the initiative is to go paperless and the security of documents that can be accessed easily from any place and at any time.
Challenges in e-Governance:
- Trust: People should trust the Government and they should be comfortable and confident of the tool and technology that they are using. But due to fraudulent transactions and other factors, the trust of the people is compromised which becomes one of the factors responsible for the limited use of e-governance.
- Digital divide: It refers to the division between the people who have access to digital technology and the others who don’t have access to it. Economic poverty is one of the main causes of the digital divide. People are unable to afford computers.
- Lack of Awareness: Due to the use of digital technology also contributes to the limited use of e-governance techniques. People are not aware of the scope of e-governance and depend on intermediaries for its use.
- Cost: In a developing country like India, cost plays a major role in regulating the use of e-governance.
- Privacy and Security: People are apprehensive about the security and privacy of their personal data. Government should ensure that no compromise should be done at that end.
- Accessibility: Due to inadequate infrastructure facilities in rural areas and language barriers people are unable to access e-governance.
- Low Computer Literacy: More than 90% of India’s population is digitally illiterate. In addition, the illiterate population comprises 25% to 30% which is one of the biggest challenges.
- Resistance to Change: Due to the introduction of Information Technology, a lot of changes have taken place but still, there are various officials, citizens, and politicians who are resistant to change and have different opinions regarding e-Governance.
Some of the Advantages of e-Governance:
- Faster communication through the use of phones and the internet, as it decreases the time taken for communication.
- Paper-based communications require heavy expenditure. It needs a lot of stationary, printers, labour, etc. The cost has been reduced with the use of the internet and phones. Moreover, time and environment are also safe due to their use.
- In earlier times, people faced issues due to physical constraints in reaching out to Government officials. Sometimes because of the ignorance of the officials and at other times due to long queues. But now it has become easy. e-Government is convenient as it provides services according to the schedule and venue of the people.
- e-governance has increased the access of information to the people.
- It also results in improved customer service. GDC (Government Data Centers) are the prominent component of ICT infrastructure for supporting e-governance initiatives.
Note: With the implementation of e-governance in India, the Indian Government is able to provide services to the people and meet their expectations to a great extent. E-governance is becoming popular in India with time however there are still hindrances and loopholes in e-governance like illiteracy, security, cost of implementation, etc. that hampers the objectives of good governance in India. Still, India is able to achieve a lot of initiatives in this regard like Digital India, e-Kranti, and so on. However, the Government should take further steps to ensure transparency, citizen friendliness, and cost-effectiveness in the implementation of the e-governance initiatives.