The Paradigm Digital Shift in Governance

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

E-Governance Initiatives

“Electronic governance is not only about technology but also about re-organizing collaboration between a variety of actors.”

With the internet spreading worldwide, the internet technology appears to be the perfect channel to improve public services and make the public sector more cost efficient. The world is moving towards the continuous optimization of service delivery, constituency participation and governance by transforming internal and external relationships through technology, the Internet and new media. This line of thought, where ICT applications are used to provide citizens with the information and services they need is referred to as e-government (Burn & Robins, 2003). E-governance is understood as use of information and communication technology which provides a holistic picture of various interactions between government and citizens through the digital platform.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a major shift in re-engineering of processes and linkages in public and private sector and major shift in interactions from physical to digital platforms. In the public sector, a lot of services have been shifted digitally from encouraging online payment of taxes to organizing web based trainings through various E-Governance initiatives; the pandemic did not stop the world to function.

Image 1 | Source: Pixabay

Legislative Frameworks and Guidelines in India:

The Government of India has the E-Governance policy which was launched along with the Digital India campaign. There are lot of other policies and guidelines in place. Also, many states like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu etc. have their own E-Governance and IT policies.

Best Practices of E-Governance Initiatives in India:

The good governance index consists of 10 parameters and 120 sub-parameters based on which EGDI scoring and ranking is done. India rank 100 at E-Government Development Index in 2020 with a shift in rank of 96 from 2018. Many E-Governance initiatives have taken place in India across multiple sectors. From online monitoring of service delivery to collecting online revenues and from complaint redressals to hazardous management, E-governance initiatives have been adapted by various cities in India for better service delivery and management.

Image 2 | Source: Digital India ;

Image 3| Source: Inc 42-Govt. plans to boost digital India

Property tax assessment pilot through block chain technology has been initiated by Thane Municipal Corporation. Karnataka initiated the Center of Excellence using block chain initiative in E-Governance. There is a paradigm shift in allocating and transferring of service delivery where many states want to transfer service level delivery to private domains. One of the best example is of the ‘I Change My City’ Campaign initiative by Janaagraha which acts as a C2G complaint redressal mechanism through electronic initiatives in cities like Mumbai and Pune. The Open Data standard for city services which initially started in Chicago is now adapted across various cities so that applications can be named for different services. The state of Arunachal Pradesh has set up the Forest Fire App which helps the forest department manage the forest where a citizen can report a fire if it has come up. The state of Karnataka recently launched a portal for online E-attestation of documents. This state scholarship portal uses digi platform and block chain technology to attest documents for students who have applied for state scholarship and it gives an ease of submitting the documents only once. The most advances digital society in the world is Estonia. It has built an efficient, secure and transparent eco-system where 99% of governmental services are online. It has developed a block chain solution to a host of government services called Keyless Signature Interface (KSI) to secure government repositories, integrate and maintain national e-health records and facilitate the creation of locating independent companies. India has the National Artificial Intelligence Portal which is follows a citizen centric approach. Few examples are ASKDISHA- which is Artificial Intelligence chat-box which allows the citizens to book online railway tickets. The Internet of Things provides a real time air quality index with latest updated data. Other E-governance initiatives are the Umang Application, the National Language Transformation Mission and the Passport Seva portal for online application of passports.

Open Government Data:

To get a particular set of data has always been a major problem in Indian cities for analysts, urban practioners and consultants due to its unavailability and inaccessibility. However, there are lot of open data portals where a large number of public enterprises share their data. The Indian Smart Cities portal by the Government of India has data related water and sanitation, property tax, transport and mobility of smart cities where all the cities upload the data and it has free access to all the users.

E-Governance in Small Towns:

The entire idea of E-governance is its remote reach and accessibility. When E-governance initiatives reach small towns, it completes the loop of serving its main purpose. A lot of initiatives are taken up by states like Gujarat started Enagar for its reach of E-governance initiatives to remote areas in the state.

Challenges and Way Forward:

E-Governance has many benefits however, climbing the ladder has lot of challenges. The process re-engineering required by the government for functioning will simultaneously require change management. Shifting from physical platforms to E-Platforms is becoming unmanageable for few since technology is learning, adopting and an evolving process. Another key challenge is to serve its real purpose of reaching out to all the citizens and stakeholders. All the applications of electronic initiatives must be accessible to all sort of users in terms of approach, clarity, understanding, readability and visibility. The third key challenge is the challenge of cyber security- Since everything is moving towards the electronic platform, the privacy concern still remains a question for people to share data. Hence, cities need to be more secure in terms of data privacy to develop a level of trust among the stakeholders.

Shifting to digital governance has brought a massive revolution. Transactions have become faceless, cashless and paperless with ease of access and utility. UPIs, faceless aadhar linkages, biometrics, multiple language chat box and tools are helping in staying relevant. The introduction of new tools for open collaboration in the public domain is rapidly changing the way collaborative action is organized. These technologies reduce the transaction costs for massive collaboration dramatically and thus facilitate new forms of collaboration that we could call “open governance”: new innovative forms of collective action aimed at solving complex public policy issues, contributing to public knowledge, or replacing traditional forms of public service provision.


About the Speaker

Dr Gayatri Doctor is Program Chair, and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Management, CEPT University. She has experience in the IT Industry and has been in Academics for more than two decades. Currently, she is engaged in the field of Urban Management from a technology perspective, exploring various technologies, their applications in the urban context, user acceptance and challenges. Her interest areas are Smart Cities, E-Governance and emerging technologies in the urban context.


Blog by Saubiya Sareshwala

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