E-Governance is an archetype of development in developing countries: its assessment in India
E-governance is a key for an effective government in developing nations. The developing nations are in a constant struggle with the developed nations to come parallel to them and among different endeavors to achieve this goal, information technology is highly demanded in action and this is always reiterated that it is a gateway for the competent, proficient and good government which will be also more transparent and accountable. Roughly speaking, E-governance has come to India in the decade of 90’s just before 2000, and since then it has been implemented and used. It was realized that for a country like India, which is among the developing nations the need of E-governance was very much, and it is right to say that such a step has helped India in bringing its economic development in the grid of fastest growing economies. But the question is to increase the use of information technology and increasing the level of E-governance to much higher level.
If it is possible that every interaction with the government could be done with just one effort and that too at any time without waiting for any fixed appointment in the long line then it cannot be considered to be less than a revolution. This is not a dream but a reality which is practical and achievable task; this is in fact a need of the hour so that the life of the citizens could be made lot easier and their time is not wasted by the use of electronic means such as the Internet. Each citizen can easily get in touch with the government through a website where all forms, legislation, news and other information will be available. Imagine a citizen who has to do all the official works related to government does it on internet with just one click without going out to standing the long queues.
E-governance is the application of information & communication technologies to transform the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of informational & transactional exchanges with in government, between govt. & govt. agencies of National, State, Municipal & Local levels, citizen & businesses, and to empower citizens through access & use of information. On the other hand, for successful implementation of E-Governance, the government officials have to understand this fact that E-Governance is no longer a matter of choice, but it is need of the hour and it is necessity for present world, especially for the developing nation like India. E governance has to be understood as a very important step by the developing nations for their administration and it can be seen in the present day world that still the developing nations are trying to grasp the benefits which they could have by coming up of e-governance in their country.
E-Governance is simply the application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for delivering Government Services, exchange of information, communication transactions, integration various stand-alone systems and services between Government and Citizens (G2C), Government and Business (G2B) as well as back office processes and interactions within the entire Government frame work. Through the e-Governance, the Government services will be made available to the citizens in a convenient, efficient and transparent manner. The Government being the service provider, it is important to motivate the employees for delivering the services through ICT. To achieve this, the Government employees are being trained on technology and started realizing the advantage of ICT. The aim is to make them thorough with e-Governance applications and responsive to the technology driven administration.
2. Success Stories Of E-Governance In India
There are many success stories which prove that e-governance is a need of developing nation like India and can be applied successfully. It is very important to discuss the proper instances where e-governance proved to be victorious in achieving proficient administration.
• Bhoomi Project
‘Bhoomi’ means ‘the land’; it is the on-line project on delivery and management of land records initiated in Karnataka. It has been a very significant effort as a part of e-governance and provides transparency and accountability in land records management with better citizen services and also helps in direct dealing of land between government and citizens. It is a very successful ICT project and has helped a lot in governance. Project is sponsored jointly by Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India and State Government of Karnataka. In this SOFTWERE “BHOOMI” ALL 20 MILLION LAND RECORDS OF 6.7 MILLION LAND OWNERS IN 176 TALUKS OF KARNATKA HAVE BEEN COMPUTERISED and this has been done in other to make full use of ICT in e-governance and the success has been huge in the program.
The Revenue Department in Karnataka, with the technical assistance from National Informatics Centre (NIC), Bangalore, has built and operationalised the BHOOMI system throughout the state. The BHOOMI has computerized 20 million records of land ownership of 6.7 million farmers in the state. BHOOMI has reduced the discretion of public officials by introducing provisions for recording a mutation request online. Farmers can now access the database and are empowered to follow up. In the BHOOMI project, a printed copy of the RTC can be obtained online by providing the name of the owner or plot number at computerized land record kiosks in 177 taluk offices, for a fee of Rs.15. A second computer screen faces the clients to enable them to see the transaction being performed. A farmer can check the status of a mutation application on Touch Screen Kiosks. If the revenue inspector does not complete the mutation within 45 days, a farmer can now approach a senior officer person with their grievance. Bhoomi has been termed as the most successful experiment, where 20 mn land records belonging to 6.7 mn farmers were digitized. Six years down the line, the project is still being considered as the only one, since no other state has been able to implement it systematically. Little wonder then that Bhoomi is considered as one of the most successful e-Governance projects, which has effected a revolutionary change in the rural land governance system. But the success of the project was so huge that Bhoomi is now declared as the national model of replication in all states by the Ministry of IT, Government of India, and an additional fund of Rs 300 mn is being provided for the same. The number of transactions under Bhoomi have increased manifold, and currently about 14 mn land records are distributed and 1.6 mn mutations are done through the Bhoomi system every year.
Government of Karnataka’s Initiative bhoomi is an example for proving the positive aspect of e-governance. The important Features of BHOOMI which have made this project successful are the full use of information and communication technology, printing of land records as and when they are required, online updating, and maintaining the land records database on computer to be updated with current time and progress and changes and lot more, so these are the places where the ICT is used and has shown positive results in the process of e-governance.
Even State of the art bio-logon metrics system from Compaq, which authenticates various users on the Bhoomi software on the basis of fingerprints so that nobody can hack the system by imitating other users is used.
• Computerized Inter-State Check Posts Of Gujarat Government
Gujarat, a state located in the western part of India, has an extensive road network and is a rapid developing state. The national highway which links Indian capital Delhi with Ahmadabad connects the industrial transport of the northern region with the western part and the states which comes in between. Gujarat is highly industrialized state and therefore it has a strong economy which runs on transportation of industrial goods and therefore there is a heavy rush of interstate goods carrier trucks which run on Gujarat highways. It is a common fact that these trucks which are used for transportation purpose are mostly overloaded and violates the laws by posing grave danger to the other people who use these highways; this problem is a very serious problem and had to be dealt with great concern. The safety of citizens on road and corruption were the main problems which were of the concern for the government and again e-governance came up as a competent tool to fight these odds in Gujarat.
it is estimated that more than 25000 interstate transport vehicles ply on these roads every day. More than 70 % these vehicles were found to be overloaded on road. The truckers overload to increase their revenues (and the manufactures of goods used to avoid sales tax and central excise duties) as the normal practice is to calculate the weight/ size by truck loads. Gujarat government also established 10 Interstate check posts. Gujarat Motor Vehicles Department (GMVD) controls road transport activity in the state. These check posts are managed by Road Transport Offices of GMVD. The primary duties of the officials include checking whether these interstate vehicles have paid the required road taxes or not, have all the documents like insurance and permissions and also to ensure that they are not overloaded. They can penalize the transporter for other issues like broken or nonfunctional head lights and non-standard license plates. The inspectors have the authority not only to check the vehicles but also to impose the penalties to the erring vehicle operators. These check posts were known to be highly corrupt. The extent of corruption can be gauzed from the fact that these officials were known to purchase the jobs at lucrative check posts by paying bribes to the tune of Rs 10 million and during 1999 out of 137 officers of the department, 27 of them were under suspension for corrupt practices. It also indicates the presence of political corruption.
The upcoming of Computerized Inter-State Check Posts of Gujarat Government (CICP) was a step which was like a counter-attack to the problems created on the highways by the transporters. This high-flying e-governance project in Gujarat is the computerized inter-state check post (CICP) system in which all the check posts of Gujarat have been computerized fully. This helps government officials to keep a check on all the heavy vehicles passing in and out of the state to control the transport of goods and make sure the proper function of specified rules and standards to avoid loss to life and property. This has given so many advantages like corruption has reduced and conflict between the official and the drivers of trucks. In this process each truck is weighed on electronic weighbridge and the data is collected by the database and fines and taxes are automatically calculated. All this is of a great benefit of the efficient technology and this saves the revenues that government lost due to corruption and violation of laws.
Under the old system, suspect vehicles had to wait in the queue at the check post (CP), if stopped by the staff. The average waiting time used to be 46.6 minutes. The official (inspector) examines the truck and if he wanted to have accurate weight the vehicle is sent to nearest weighbridge. After inspecting the documents, the inspector calculates the penalty depending on the over load and issues a penalty notice. This process used to take 22.4 minutes on the average. The driver makes the payment and after completion of formalities moves away. The process of verification of the documents is manual and imposing penalties on the erring vehicles is arbitrary and discretionary. This system had a number of other shortcomings also. Only a few vehicles could be checked in a day resulting in loss of revenue to the state. Truck drivers are normally held up for several hours and the penalty charges are arbitrary. Truck drivers are normally forced to pay speed money (bribes) to the officials. Some officials colluded with truck operators and it was an open secret that some of these officials were on the pay rolls of large transport companies. To speed up the service and to ensure hundred percent inspections, the Government of Gujarat has implemented the e-governance project called Computerized Interstate Check Posts.
The success of the e-governance can be calculated from the fact that Corruption has declined and revenue in the form of fines from overloaded trucks has tripled after the computerization of 10 interstate check-posts in Gujarat. These fines and taxes due to the government are automatically calculated and printed out. Departmental inspectors at these check posts were notoriously corrupt, leading to the harassment of truck drivers and loss of revenue to the State.
• Gyandoot- Endeavour Of Madhya Pradesh Government.
Gyandoot is a successful endeavor of the Madhya Pradesh government and it is an intranet-based G2C portal, inculcating information and services to the rural population of the mostly tribal district of Dhar. This is a step was not so popular initially but later on got famous after it was promoted as a e-governance scheme in these tribal areas. ‘Gyandoot’ is influential in establishing a link between government and the local population residing in the remote villages and it has also provided an opportunity to marginalized tribal citizens to have an access to knowledge at a little cost.
The modern nation has to apply the modern technology in its working and gyandoot is also an example of such a modern approach. These should also reach the larger population so that everyone can utilize the policies of the government. The MP government has tried to adopt the use of e-governance in rural areas to improve control, planning, scrutinize and have better transparency in public services while it has also faced problems in doing so like low literacy, low per capita income and limited financial resource and lack of awareness about the project but overcoming all this it has launched its e-governance scheme and again made a success story.
Gyandoot describes a number of examples where farmers have been able to secure better prices for their crops by taking their goods to a local market offering the highest prices, and by cutting out local middlemen. Farmers in Bagadi village, for example, were getting a rate of 300 rupees ($6) per quintal from local traders for their potato crop. On getting the rate slip from their local Gyandoot information kiosk, they could not believe that the current rate in Indore market was 400 rupees ($8) per quintal. So they hired a truck to take their produce to Indore – one hour away (50km). Computer literacy has increased in the rural areas. This is evident from the fact that around 120 rural youths are getting trained in the kiosks. Through the increased awareness about computers and IT a number of new private computer training institutions have opened, with enrolment increasing by 60%.
e-governance has not only been effectively used for community participation in planning, execution and management but it has also created a new thinking regarding private and community funding in the establishment of community networks in India. It has been successfully proven as a viable business model. Gyandoot has won the prestigious Stockholm Challenge Award, 2000 and CSI National Award for Best IT Usage in India, 2000. The network has been adjudged a best practice by the UNDP, Asian Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Time Magazine, World Economic Forum, the Government of India and the Planning Commission of India.
3. Advantages Of E-Governance
The e-governance is becoming a celebrated concept and the sole reasons are the advantage which it brings with it in the country it is applied. The advantages if ICT are many and “the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of government” ,
• Reduces the cost
This is a significant achievement which an e-governance scheme procures, as we know that most of the Government expenditure is appropriated towards the cost of stationary and paper works. This Paper-based communication proves to be a costlier one and this sucks in a lot of governments or public money as it calls for constant heavy expenditure. The solution to this problem is this electronic way of working, Internet and Phones makes communication cheaper saving valuable money for the Government.
• Speedy working
E-governance works on the basis of Technology and it is a known fact that technology makes communication speedier thus this is what makes the working speedier and the working becomes faster. Internet, Phones, Cell Phones have reduced the time taken in normal communication.
• Increase Transparency
The main concern of any nation in the present era is the increasing and continuing corruption in the system. This can also be solved through the use of ICT which makes governing profess transparent. All the information of the Government would be made available on the internet and right to information of citizens would be taken care of and respected. This revolutionizes the way governments function, ensuring much more transparency in the functioning, thereby eliminating corruption. The citizens can see the information whenever they want to see and ICT helps the citizen in this aspect and leaves no way in which the information could be concealed from the citizens and therefore it helps in reducing corruption and in a way it makes the governance more transparent.
• It brings Accountability
When the governing process is made transparent the Government automatically becomes accountable and accountability is a very basic requirement of good governance. Accountability includes answerability of the Government to the people about its working and this is right of the people to know exactly about the functioning of the government. E-governance therefore makes a noteworthy contribution in the society by providing a better government which is accountable to its citizens and this fulfills the basic requirement of the demand of the population which elects its government.
• Costly Infrastructure
When it is said that e-governance is required for and effective administration then to establish such a system and therefore such an efficient e-governance system also requires all citizens or at least the vast majority to have access to the Internet. Therefore, Internet-enabled devices, hardware such as routers, and a connection infrastructure are essential to connect to government websites. In addition, public sector agencies need advanced servers and security systems to cope with vast amounts of information and complex cyber threats. All these requirements constitute a costly investment, far beyond the reach of less developed economies. Most of the people in India are living below poverty line and hence it is a less appropriate investment in e-governance in a poor nation.
• Learning basic functionality of computer will become mandatory
The people like senior citizens may face this problem and may not wish to operate through the mode of computer because in country like India, technological advancement came late and many senior citizens do not have proper knowledge of computer nor they wish to learn and also a person to person interaction gets curtailed and is almost nullified. Many people give importance to the person to person interaction and thus due to the intervention of technology this is mitigated and almost lost.
5. Challenges In The E-Governance
E-governance is a constructive idea that can be of an immense positive output but it is not so easy to attain in a country like India which is practically a developing nation. E-governance itself is a very technical scheme and it has challenges which make the implementation easier said than done.
The most significant characteristic of any successful e-government application is its quality (Signore, et al 2005) and accessibility. The issue (Cost, Time) of integration of legacy systems comes onto the scene. As the information collected by governments may be politically sensitive, installation of appropriate security mechanisms may be an important technical consideration. At the same time, many other policy issues need to be resolved, such as authentication and confidentiality.
• Digital Divide: The digital divide refers to the separation that exists between individuals, communities, and businesses that have access to information technology and those that do not have such access. Social, economic, infrastructural and ethno-linguistic indicators provide explanations for the presence of the digital divide. Economic poverty is closely related to limited information technology resources. An individual living below poverty line does not afford a computer for him to harness the benefits of e-government and other online services. As the digital divide narrows, broader adoption of e-government in the public domain becomes possible. E-governance is totally based on modern technology and it will be a failure if this part is not taken into consideration. Technology has to be in the reach of the people for whom the policies are made and who have to use them.
• Lack of communication: India is a country which has decentralized government and in such a case the power is decentralized and does not only rest in the hands of centre but divided in different spheres and departments, so the lack of communication between these departments is one of the biggest challenge that India has to face while opting for E-governance. So the information that exists in one department has no or very little use with respect to some other department of the government.
• Population: this comes out to be probably biggest challenge for the e-governance. E-governance requires huge amount of work for making the databases of the citizens of the country and doing it efficiently for such a population is in itself a very big task. Security issues and privacy issues are also to be dealt with proper care and so it becomes a little hindrance.
• Different Languages: in a country like India which is highly diverse, language comes as a barrier in the path of communication and this is a very important expect of success of the any scheme. Ensuring E-Governance in local language is a big task to achieve. Supplying information to the public in a language that they understand and are comfortable with, and generally, it is the local language. As, technology is available by which transliteration from English into other languages can be made. Therefore, the problem is manageable provided there is enough motivation to do this onerous task.
E-governance is a boon for a developing country and it should be used as a valuable policy by the government if it has to develop fast and more proficiently. e -governance has many challenges but the fruits which it yields afterwards are of more importance and therefore E-governance should be seen as a characteristic of a modern government.
E-governance has proved to be successful in many states of India where they were applied but has to be made enlarged in its scope and it has to be applied to large population at a bigger scale so that whole country can be beneficiary of this type of governance. The world is growing at a very rapid pace and if a country has to compete with the world around then it has to adopt few measures which are modern in characteristic and which yield benefits and therefore Indian should widen its use of E-governance and imbibe it in its administration
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