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E-governance in India expands, gets local

E-governance or the use of ICT in governance has been on the rise for many years in India, and its increasing reach is reaching states and villages and easing access to government.

The Strategic Foresight Group writes,

"However, recent trends show that efforts have begun to focus more on easing the interaction of citizens with government agencies, through the use of ICT. E-governance initiatives have begun to trickle down from the Central level to state and local levels. For a number of years, the Central government has used a National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), which has several smaller missions and initiatives under it, with programs designed to benefit poorer sections of society. Examples include land registration records, checking agricultural market prices and registering for government jobs and schemes online.

The Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), a not-for-profit organization in Delhi, has also started a program (e-Panchayat) to bring e-governance to the panchayat level (local government in villages or small towns). There are close to 250,000 panchayats in India, of which only around 58,300 have access to computers. Panchayats in states like Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh do not have any computers at all. The aim of the DEF program is to create work stations at each panchayat in the country that is fully equipped to access the internet and communicate with government departments across the state and country. The program also aims to train government workers at the panchayat level to be able to use these facilities. Through the National Innovation Council, the government also aims to connect all of the panchayats in India to the National Broadband Infrastructure, as part of a multi-lingual ‘gram swaraj’ (village self-governance) portal by 2012. The Council’s primary aim is to increase access and transparency, as well as reduce costs."

Implications

Integration of village governments could build much stronger local ties to government, and nonprofits like DEF could rapidly facilitate this.

The Strategic Foresight Group writes,

"In the next few years, the transition from using ICT to ease the functions of government agencies, to using ICT to allow citizens better access and amenities to and from the government can be expected to expand. As efforts have been concerted towards integrating village governments more fully into the national e-governance programs, it is likely that these efforts could bear fruit within the next few years, provided they are sustained. Many private organizations like DEF, and others (for example, IT for Change) are already showing an interest in aiding government agencies with e-governance initiatives. This can also be expected to increase."

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Sources:

The Strategic Foresight Group, July 2011 (pg. 2):
http://newsletters.clearsignals.org/SFG_July2011.pdf#page=2

Manzar, Osama. Creating an alliance to bridge the digital divide LiveMint. 29 May 2011.
http://www.livemint.com/2011/05/29213331/Creating-an-alliance-to-bridge.html?h=D

‘Saraansh: A Compendium of Mission Mode Projects Under NeGP’. January 2011.
http://www.mit.gov.in/sites/upload_files/dit/files/Compendium_FINAL_Version_220211.pdf

Governance. IT For Change. http://www.itforchange.net/governance

Digital Panchayat. Digital Empowerment Forum. http://www.defindia.net/section_full_story.asp?id=1062

Monga, Anil. ‘E-Government in India: Opportunities and Challenges’. 2008.
http://joaag.com/uploads/5_Monga2EGov3_2_.pdf

Manzar, Osama. ‘Mobile governance and NeGP 2.0’. LiveMint. 16 May 2011.
http://www.livemint.com/2011/05/15201025/Mobile-governance-and-NeGP-20.html?h=B

‘National Innovation Council to create new service delivery systems’. Governance Knowledge
Centre. 3 October 2010. http://indiagovernance.gov.in/news.php?id=344