There is the need to focus on strengthening of e-Governance, an important pillar of the Government of India’s ‘Digital India’ campaign so as to digitally empower the administrative and governance process for providing citizen centric services. This was stated by Devendra Chaudhury, Secretary, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) while inaugurating a Workshop on ‘UN e-Government Development Index’ in New Delhi.
He highlighted the importance of process change which can be effectively enabled by IT tools and consequential changes in approach to e-Governance as a business model similar to e-Commerce.
In May 2006, the Central Government on had launched the ambitious plan to set up 100,000 Common Service Centres (CSC) on pan-India basis to provide IT enabled services to 640,000 plus Indian villages. The big pillar for e-Governance received a big boost when Modi government increased the number to 250,000 CSCs across the 250,000 gram panchayats in the country.
Commending the Indian government on its plan to transform governance and provide citizen centric services, Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator & Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme, said “e-Governance is like building a house. Build a strong foundation and everything works”. In his view, the key challenge for the country was to deliver services to the last mile population, removing the digital divide, towards improving the quality of their lives.
Acknowledging India’s progress, Richard Kerby, inter-regional adviser on e-Government with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that e-Government has to be a part of the national development strategy and sustainable development. Kerby said that while open data is a key to empowering people, it should support a bottom-up approach, with citizens contributing to the data collection process equally with governments.
While speaking at the workshop, Tapan Ray, Additional Secretary, Department of Electronics and IT stressed on the need to ‘integrated efforts across government to achieve the vision of a digitally empowered India.’
A key focus of the workshop was to understand the United Nations e-Government Survey, which assesses e-Government development across all 193 member countries of the United Nations launched in 2003. The global survey has three components – Telecom Infrastructure Index, Human Capital Index and an Online Services Index. The workshop threw up a number of innovative and transformative ideas of which the countries have undertaken to serve the Citizens.
The workshop featured presentations by four States, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh on innovative e-Governance initiatives launched by them to improve service delivery to citizens. The presentation by Karnataka focused on citizen centric services being provided through a mobile one platform, Andhra Pradesh presented on a public grievance redressal system known as Meekosam, Uttar Pradesh shared its experience on IT and e-Governance initiatives aimed at creating a conducive environment for e-Governance including fiscal incentives and ‘Citizen First’ programme and Himachal Pradesh on an online application system to register complaints.