E-governance: Concepts and case studies
Author: Prabhu, C. S. R.
New Delhi: Prentice-Hall of India, 2004.
Emergence of the e-governance in India can be traced back to 1970s when National Informatics Centre (NIC), a pioneering institution set up by the Government of India, started networking government departments to exploit their knowledge repository for ensuring good governance. Since its evolution, NIC has become the largest repository of knowledge pertaining to the country. Prabhu in his book E-governance: Concepts and case studies puts theoretical facets of e-governance, as evolved in last few decades in the Western world, in the Indian context, citing various initiatives undertaken by central and state governments since 1970s.
Prabhu introduces the basic e-governance concepts as a form of e-business in governance comprising of processes and structures involved in deliverance of electronic services to the public, viz. citizens. An e-governance platform enables various stakeholders - government, business and citizens - to participate in governance mechanism through ICT applications. Governments of European and North American countries have long been exploiting e-governance to enable citizens participation in policy-making and improving the existing governance system. Making Indias public administration system a SMART (stands for Simple, Moral, Accountable and Responsive) government is the mantra of e-governance in India.
The process of embedding ICT applications in existing governance mechanism differs remarkably in developed and developing nations. The Second Chapter of the book elaborates six such processes, specific to situations in developing nations broadcasting or wider dissemination model, critical flow model, comparative analysis model, mobilisation and lobbying model, interactive-service model and e-governance maturity model. Information dissemination (broadcast) activities e.g. making legislative documents, contact information of government officials, and similar state documents etc. available online constitute the first step towards a more mature e-governance landscape. NICs General Information Services (GISTNIC) exemplifies such broadcast model, which disseminates public interest information through its portal.
The critical flow model empowers civil society to elicit peoples perspectives on policy-making processes as information in this model is critically represented according to its targeted audience. Studies commissioned by the state or information on corruption for raising public awareness is floated through this model. In the comparative analysis model, access to knowledge products emanating from different contexts enables informed decision-making. Public participation in policy debates is further enhanced through mobilisation and lobbying model in which activities like public debates on global issues or amplification of the voices of marginalised groups are undertaken. All these processes are combined in the interactive-service model.
The e-governance maturity model, designed on the conventional software maturity model framework, envisions an ICT-enabled government at various stages of evolution from a non-ICT user closed government to an e-governance enabled institutionalised one. Governments go through several stages to institutionalise the e-governance principles in their work. The evolution occurs through several phases that comprise building data, legal, human, institutional, technological and leadership infrastructure. The Third Chapter chronicles Indias journey towards building her e-governance infrastructure over past few decades.
Eighteen e-governance projects undertaken in various states of India are reviewed in the Case Studies section. It also reviews the current scenario and implementation in Brazil, China, Sri Lanka and USA. NICNET drives the informatisation process in all the central and state government departments. Initiatives like Collectorate 2000, Computer-aided Administration of Registration Department (CARD), Smart Nagarpalika (Computerisation of Municipalities), Computerisation of Andhra Pradesh State Trading Corporation, Sachivalaya Vahini (Computerisation of Secretariat), E-Khazana (Government Treasury, Andhra Pradesh), E-governance in the Offices of Director General for Foreign Trade, Data Warehousing in Tamil Nadu Government and Ministry of Commerce, E-Panchayat provide hardware and software solutions for government departments, municipalities, panchayats. Experiments like Ekal Seva Kendra, Bhomi, Praja (Rural e-Seva) build infokiosk-based service delivery models to reach e-governance services directly to the rural citizens.
E-governance: Concepts and case studies serves as a ready reference of e-governance scenario in India. The book focuses on computerisation of government departments though recently various state governments have set up infokioks in rural areas for delivering e-governance services at the grassroots.