Daily Answer Writing
24 September 2021

Q) E-governance is associated with vital efficiency gains in governance structures. What are the key elements of e-governance and the critical challenges in the transition towards such digitalization? (250 Words)

  • Source: The Hindu - Page 7/OPED: Make departments smart, first
  • GS 2/GS 4: Governance

 

Approach Answer:


Introduction: E-Governance is the application of IT for delivering government services, exchange of information, communication transactions, integration of various stand-alone systems between government to citizen (G2C), government-to-business (G2B), government-to-government (G2G), Government-to-employees (G2E) as well as back-office processes and interactions within the entire government framework. The 2nd Administrative reforms commission identifies it as an essential element for better governance.

 

Critical elements of e-Governance:

    • Citizen Centricity & Transparency: The whole aim of e-governance is not only to bring efficiency in governance, but mainly to serve the people and bring transparency in government processes. This must be followed.
    • Generating Smart Data: A smart city requires good data to inform decision-making. The only reliable way to get good data is to design ‘smart systems’ that generate such data by default.
    • Developing government departments: A department refers to a specific administrative entity, with the mandate to deliver a defined set of services, and the resources it is assigned for delivering them; a function is any such set of services and the people who deliver them.
    • Interoperability: it is the ability of systems and organizations of different qualities to work together. The e-Governance applications must have this characteristic so that the newly developed and existing applications can be implemented together.  Given the complexity of our cities, and the various entities that are involved in their governance, Information exchanges must be possible at multiple level between different department.
    • Digitalization of Data: when doing their work, local government employees have to switch from using pen and paper and records to using digital tools and systems. 
    • Digital Literacy: Citizens form a critical part of the system. If the citizens are not aware about the functioning of the system, then it would be difficult to deliver the fruits of governance to the public.
    • Data and Cyber Security: As the data is collected in the government offices, its theft, corruption or misuse becomes easier. Thus Cyber security becomes a key element of digitalization.
    • Use of Technology for data collection and utilization: various e-Government technologies can be named in this context, including fifth-generation telecommunication technology (5G), Big data analysis, Artficial Intelligence(AI), Internet of things(IoT), WiFi hotspots, Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX), closed-circuit television (CCTV), tracking systems, radio-frequency identification (RFID) etc.

 

Challenges in the way of e-governance:

    • Non-digitalized government data: Most local government offices in India is that records are kept on paper; if they do get digitised, it is as part of a post-facto data entry exercise. This creates scope for errors and manipulation.
    • Lack of Infrastructure and Technology: The Government offices in the lowest levels lack facilities of computers, internet or different data collection devices.
    • Problem of digitalizing older files & data: This becomes a big problem as older records need special mission mode projects for digitalization. For example, Digital India Land Records Monetization Program.
    • Lack of training: The older employees are difficult to train and handle the newer technologies without bridge courses etc. This requires extra spending and training programs.
    • Digital Exclusion: People who are digitally illiterate or those who lack smart devices get automatically eliminated out of the system due to lack of access.
    • Cost of Translation into different languages: To make the digital services accessible, they must be available in all languages. This would require extra costs.
    • Challenge of inter-operability: The aim that local government, state government, and the Centre must benefit from each other's data is difficult to achieve if there is no central planning.
    • Cost of maintenance of systems: As the Information Technology changes very fast and it is very difficult for us to update our existing systems very fast.

 

Conclusion: In order to overcome these challenges and implement the key elements of e-governance, the government has launched the e-Kranti mission or the Digital India campaign, which aims to construct the critical infrastructure needed for the digitalization. Once this happens, the other elements for citizen centric governance such as smart cities etc. would automatically emerge.

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