Thursday, April 21, 2011

E-Governance In India: Success And Failures

E-governance in India has failed to make the necessary impact. Of course, one or two e-governance initiatives of India have been successful but in totality e-governance is a big failure in India. This has happened because India has neither a mandatory legal framework for e-governance nor are there any policies or strategies for effective e-governance. Even the proposed draft electronic services delivery bill 2011 of India is nothing more than legal jargon with no practical significance and utility.

Keeping in mind the past record of India, nothing much can be expected even from the framework for citizen participation in NEGP. This is so because the citizen to government (C2G) participation in India has largely been confined to just comments giving by public with little appreciation of the same. Further, international organisations and programmes like World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have “never ensured accountability” from India while granting funds and grants.

The end result is that e-governance itself has become a source of corruption and only strong and effective laws like Jan Lokpal Bill, 2011 of India can reduce such high level corruption in India.

What failed the e-governance projects of India? Why these projects are not taking a concrete shape? What steps must be taken by Indian government to implement successful e-governance projects in India? In this interview with Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law and the Leading Techno-Legal Expert of India we are exploring these issues.

Q-1 What is the current state of e-governance projects in India?

A-1 E-Governance in India has failed by and large. However, the “India Shining Syndrome” of e-governance in India is still trying to portray otherwise, though unsuccessfully.

Q-2 What is India’s position in this regard at the international level?

A-2 At the International level India’s ranking is falling when it comes to basic prerequisites of e-governance, i.e. e-readiness, public-governmental interaction, public services, etc.

Q-3 Why e-governance projects are failing in India? What are the factors responsible for such failures in India?

A-3 The Governmental will and leadership is missing in India. To worsen the situation the Government of India is concentrating more upon the image rather than upon the end results. The grassroot level action is missing and the benefits of ICT are not reaching to the under privileged and deserving masses due to defective ICT strategies and policies of Indian Government. India is suffering from the “vicious circle” of defective e-governance, as the basic input .i.e. governance itself is poor. Further, there is a complete lack of transparency and accountability among the persons dealing with these projects. As a result the money and resources meant for the common man are misappropriated by corrupt governmental officials and departments.

Q-4 What are the side effects of failures of e-governance in India?

A-4 Failure of E-Governance is also affecting other segments like e-commerce. India does not have a satisfactory Legal Enablement of ICT System that is a result of weak and ineffective cyber law of India. The Information Technology Act, 2000 is useless as far as legal enablement of e-governance, e-commerce, cyber law, etc are concerned.

Q-5 What steps should the government of India must take to successfully implement e-governance projects in India?

A-5 The Government and Indian Bureaucrats need to change their mindset and stress more upon outcomes and services rather than mere ICT procurement. India needs a services-based approach that is not only transparent but also backed by a more efficient and willing Government. Presently the Bureaucrats and Government of India are in a “resistance mode” towards novel and effective e-governance policies and strategies and they are merely computerising traditional official functions only. This is benefiting neither the Government nor the citizens and is resulting in wastage of thousands of crores of public money and UNDP/World Bank grants amount.

Q-6 What is the single most effective way to solve the problems of e-commerce, e-governance, cyber law, etc in India?

A-6 India needs a good National ICT Policy that is currently missing. Presently India lacks the necessary expertise to not only formulate a National ICT Policy but also to implement the same. We are stressing too much upon the size of the executing companies rather than upon the necessary expertise to in fact execute the allotted project.