Thursday, April 21, 2011

World Bank Must Ensure Accountability Of Indian NEGP

International organisations and programmes like World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have been supporting e-governance initiatives of various countries world wide. While this is a praiseworthy concept yet neither World Bank nor UNDP have been ensuring accountability and transparency for the granted funds.

Recently, World Bank approved $150 Million to accelerate implementation of India’s National e-Governance Plan (NEGP). The aim of NEGP is to transform the service delivery system across the country. The World Bank granted the loan for the purposes of electronic delivery of public services in India. While this World Bank loan will not target specific services per se, it will initiate policy and institutional actions that will affect all services.

However, of all the matters policy formulation in India is worst. Till now we do not have a sound ICT policy of India. Similarly, we do not have a legal framework for mandatory e-governance services in India. Even the proposed draft electronic services delivery bill 2011 of India is mere eyewash and nothing more. According to techno legal experts of India, e-governance in India is dying.

This is clear from the recent draft Electronic Services Delivery Bill, 2011 of India (ESD Bill 2011). However, the real problem with Indian E-Governance Initiatives in general and proposed ESD Bill 2011 in particular is that Legal Framework for Mandatory Electronic Services Delivery in India is missing from it, says Praveen Dalal, Supreme Court lawyers and Managing Partner of India’s exclusive techno legal law firm Perry4Law. Citizen to Government (C2G) Participation in India needs rejuvenation and an implementable Framework for Citizens Engagement in NEGP is the need of the hour, suggests Dalal.

Similarly, on the m-governance policy of India as well India is well beyond the required standards. The regulatory framework for m-governance in India is still missing. In fact, the most important requirement for establishing legal enablement of ICT systems in India is missing. We have no legal enablement of ICT systems in India and failure of e-courts project of India is directly attributable to the same.

If UNDP and World Bank are unaware of these failures of India nothing can be more unfortunate. However, if both UNDP and World Bank are aware of these circumstances and still prefer to do nothing, there is something very wrong with the system itself. UNDP and World Bank must immediately evaluate the circumstances prevailing in the Indian e-governance initiatives and take necessary actions in this regard.