In the last two decades, ever since the year 2000 when e-gov had begun in India with the flagship e-gov schemes like Bhoomi, e-Seva, FRIENDS etc. The following lessons have emerged regarding what is to be done in future for optimally utilizing the huge potential of ICT .
- The importance of political will: The current Govt. has taken keen personal interest in promoting Digital India, Bharatnet, PRAGATI Portal, mygov.in, BHIM App etc and many state governments have followed trend.
- Overcoming back-end limitations is an imperative: In the absence of back-end capabilities and e-readiness of govt, any front-end e-gov projects are going to remain just a cosmetic lip-service to e-gov and that can cause more harm than benefits.
- Bridging the digital-divide will be the key: As per the UN’s e-gov development Index Survey (E-GDI-2018), India’s global e-readiness rank is 96 out of 193 countries studied, with a score of 0.57 out of 1, which places India in 2nd category (out of 4) i.e countries with High e-gov development or government’s e-readiness.
This shows that for a large majority of population, even the basic necessities for e-gov are not yet realized, viz.
● Digital literacy
● Basic infra like rural electrification
● Basic Telecom connectivity/access
● Internet connectivity/access
● High-speed and reliable (Broadband/optical fiber) network.
- E- gov is not an end, Good Governance is: It needs to be remembered that “e-gov is instrumental to Good Governance ”. i.e. e-gov is not a goal by itself and therefore it cannot be used for ego satisfaction or to send a cosmetic/populist message. It must actually yield tangible benefits to the citizens (or else it would be better to save that investment and spend it elsewhere on the regular/non electronic GG). In a country that still has shortfall of basic amenities, creating Physical Infra (roads, water, electricity, schools) is as important as digital infra (e-gov projects and tech assets ).
Can E-gov could be anti Good Governance ?
● Costs of E-infrastructure may be prohibitive. Technology assets like Satellite links, servers, broadband highways, development of application software’s etc may require huge investments.
● Prioritizing issues: Basic infra like primary healthcare, primary education, jobs, primary rural roads etc, have to be always kept at the topmost priority.
● Digital divide: technology is not available to every citizen equally, due to demography, geography and socio-economic reasons.