Wednesday, April 20, 2011

E-Governance in India Is Dying Says Praveen Dalal

This is the updated version of the previous article on similar topic. Almost all e-governance projects of India have failed to materialise. 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 mere eyewash and nothing more.

Further, the latest addition to this wish list of Indian government is the framework for citizen participation in NEGP. Till now public participation in the e-governance initiatives of India has remained a lip service alone with no effective use. The citizen to government (C2G) participation in India has largely been confined to just comments giving by public with little appreciation of the same.

Very few words are more fanciful than the words e-governance. These words have a tendency to portray an image of all advanced nation or capable manpower. But the bigger question is what is more important; the image or reality? We have to analyse this question in the light of e-governance in India and the efforts of government of India to achieve the herculean task of being an information and communication technology (ICT) enabled and capable nation.

Let us peep into the mind of those who have a deeper insight of this “India shining syndrome” of Indian government and bureaucrats. According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based law firm Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of India, “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 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Bank Grants amount”.

The truth becomes more obscure in the maze of various reports and surveys, most of which are government or its agencies/partners “sponsored”. The bureaucratic incompetencies and lack of Governmental will only find support in high profile workshops and seminars where common man has neither an access nor a say. At the international level, however, India’s ranking is falling when it comes to basic prerequisites of e-governance, i.e. e-readiness, public-governmental interaction, public services, etc.

“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 grassroots 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. India needs a “virtuous circle” of e-governance through good governance that would have multiplication and amplification effect upon e-governance efforts of Indian Government. We neither have a right nor would be we honest and true if we call ourselves an e-governance oriented Nation as even the basic “e-mail communications” with the Government of India, including Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), President, Ministry of Information Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, etc are “NEVER” replied back” says Praveen Dalal.

It is astonishing to know that the so called “e-governance experts” in the bureaucratic and governmental circles of India do not even know when and how to respond back to urgent and pressing public communications (e-mails). What is the benefit of attending and participating in high profile conferences and workshops in a cool and comfortable hotel room environment when the Citizen to Government (C2G) and Government to Citizen (G2C) wings of Indian e-governance are “missing”? The C2G and G2C are the core pillars of not only e-governance but electronic commerce (e-commerce) as well. The problem seems to “lack of accountability” among the Government Departments in India.It is surprising that despite these “serious problems” the India Shining image is often portrayed when it come to e-governance in India.