Friday, April 22, 2011

Indian E-Delivery of Public Services

Electronic delivery of public services in India is in news these days. E-delivery of public services in India cannot be provided till we have a sound legal framework supporting the same. Till now we have no framework for mandatory e-delivery of public services in India.

The sole cyber law of India is incorporated in the information technology act, 2000 (IT Act 2000). IT Act, 2000 does not provide a mandatory framework for providing e-delivery of public service in India On the contrary, section 9 of the IT Act, 2000 is expressly denying the same to Indian citizens.

According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi base law firm Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of India, E-Delivery of Public Services in India cannot succeed till we have “Mandatory E-governance Services in India”. Presently, providing of E-Delivery of Services in India is discretionary and this is resulting in “Poor Growth” of E-Governance in India, says Dalal. Even the proposed Essential Services Delivery Bill 2011 of India is “Not Conducive” for E-Delivery of Services in India, informs Dalal.

The national e-governance plan of India (NEGP) has been suffering from many defects and shortcomings. There is no performance based appraisals and neither is there any accountability for the funds issued to various e-governance projects. There seems to no accountability for the loans, funds, and grants issued by International organisations and programmes like World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The department of information technology (DIT) has released a paper note covering a framework for citizens’ engagement in NEGP. The idea is to engage citizens in policy formulation and its implementation at all the stages. Although the intention is good yet its accomplishment is next to impossible keeping in mind the poor past record of use of public private partnership (PPP) for governmental projects and initiatives.

Even the draft electronic services delivery bill 2011 is suffering from numerous limitations. It seems the sole purpose of this Bill is to use it as a fa├žade so that international community, especially World Bank, can be fooled and the recent $150 million loan to India in this regard can be used on papers once again.

India has to be honest and corruption free if it wish to use the information highway of e-delivery of public services. But for the next ten years expecting mandatory e-delivery of public services in India would be ignoring the ground realities and vast corruption existing in India.