The term ‘governance’ is wider than the term ‘government’. Government may be defined as an activity of governing or controlling a country by its government, controlling of an organisation or a company by its CEO or Board of Directors or controlling of a household by the head of the house. ‘e- Governance’ can be defined as governing of a country, organisation, company or a household with the help of Information and communication Technology (ICT). E-Governance facilitates an efficient, speedy and transparent process of disseminating information to the public, and other agencies and for performing government administrative activities. The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) is an initiative of the Government of India to make all government services available to the citizens of India via electronic media.
India started its own e-Governance initiative with the establishment of National Informatics Center (NIC) in 1977. But the main thrust for e-Governance was provided by the Iaunching of NICNET (National Informatics Centre Network) in 1987 which was the national satellite-based computer network. This was followed by the launch of the District Information System of the National Informatics Centre (DISNIC) programme to computerize all district offices in the country for which free hardware and software was offered to the state Governments. NICNET was extended via the state capitals to all district headquarters by 1990. A large number of e-Governance initiatives were taken at the union and state levels. In 1999, the Union Ministry of Information Technology was created. By 2000, a 12-point minimum agenda for e-Governance was identified by Government of India for implementation in all the Union Government Ministries/Departments. E-Governance is the application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for delivering government services, exchange of information, communication transactions, integration of various stand alone systems and services between (i) Government-to-Customer (G2C), (ii) Government-to-Business (G2B) and (iii) Government-to-Government (G2G).
The goal of Government-to-Customer (G2C), e-Governance is to offer a variety of ICT services to citizens in an efficient and economical manner, and to strengthen the relationship between government and citizens using technology. Under G2C, various projects viz Bhoomi project by Karnataka Government, Lokvani project by Utter Pradesh Government, e-Mitra by Rajasthan Government, e-Seva by Andhra Pradesh Government, Gyandoot by Madhya Pradesh Government UMANG App by the Union Government have been launched. Government-to-Business (G2B) is the online non-commercial interaction berween Local and Central Government and the commercial business sector with the purpose of providing business information and advice. G2G refers to the conduction through the internet between government agencies and trading companies. Under the projects like e-Procurement of Andhra Pradesh Government, MCA-21 implemented by Ministry of Corporate Affairs were launched. E-government is a fairly broad subject matter and it is an effort to keep up with today’s demands. G2G is the electronic sharing of data and/or information systems between government agencies, departments or organisations. The goal of G2G is to support e-government initiatives by improving communication, data access and data sharing. Some successful G2G projects are North-East Gang Information System (NEGIS), Khajane of Karnataka Govetrnment, Amart Government of Andhra Pradesh. Apart from these, Central Government introduced Mission Mode Projects (MMPs).
A Mission Mode Project is an individual project within the national e-government Plan (NeGP) that focuses on the aspect of electronic governance, such as banking, land records or commercial taxes etc. With NeGP ‘mission mode’ implies that projects have clearly defined objectives, scopes and implementation of timelines and milestone, as well as measurable outcomes and service levels. NeGP comprises 31 Misson Mode Projects (MMPs) which are further classified as central, state and integrated MMPs. Central MMPs include Banking, Central Excise and Customs, Income Tax (IT), Insurance, MCA 21, Passport, Immigration, Visa and Foreigners Registration and Tracking, Pension, E-office, Posts, VID. State MMPs include Agriculture, Commercial Taxes, E-District, Employment Exchange, National Land Records Management Programme (NLRMP), Municipalities, E-Panchayats, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS), Road Transport, Treasuries Computerisation, PDS, Education and Health. Integrated MMPs include CSC, e-Biz, e-courts, e-Procurement, EDI for e-Trade, National e-Governance Service Delivery Gateway, India Portal etc.
Some of the recent initiatives taken by the Government of India in the field of e-Governance in the country include
- BHIM (Bharat Interface for money) mobile app launched in 2016 to facilitate e-Payments directly through banks.
- Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) allowing on line interoperable financial inclusion transaction through the business correspondent of any bank using the Aadhaar authentication.
- Digital India Programme aiming to transform the country into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
- Direct cash transfer to facilitate disbursements of government entitlements like NREGA, social security pension etc of any Central or State Government bodies, using Aadhaar as supported by UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India)
- e-Kranti scheme for linking the internet with remote villages in the country launched in 2014.
- Survey of India has launched a new web portal called Nakshe to make open series of maps available to Indians for free. These maps are meant for development activities in the country and can also be used to plan scientific expeditions, research etc.
Some states viz, West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh have implemented e-Government modules in Panchayat. MMPs for e-Governance in Municipalities is implemented under Phase I of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and applicable to 65 Mission cities. The government has to publish all the information online through websites. This can be facilitated through centralized storage of information, localisation of content and content management. The information of government is public information, therefore the citizens are entitled to know every piece of information of the government, because the government is of the people, by the people and for the people.
Despite its advantages, e-Governance faces many challenges in various ways. Universal access to the internet is still far away in India. India has wide digital divide between rural and urban India, thus the reach of e-governance initiative is very limitedLack of proper infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, restricts the people from reaping the benefits of e-governance. Illiteracy of the users and lack of their ability to use computers is also a great impediment. Other hindrances include public concern over the cyber security, fear of spam from providing email address and government retention of transaction or interaction history etc. States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala are ahead in e-governance, but others like Bihar, Jharkhand, North-East are Lagging behind.
A vision is required to implement the e-Governance successfully in India. To meet the vision, the challenges in the implementation of e-Governance should be overcome. Then, the environment needs to be developed for the effective implementation of e-Governance in India. In spite of many challenges India has number of award winning e-Governance projects like Andhra Pradesh’s rural e-Seva project, e-Panchayat etc. Therefore, we can say that, e-Governance is the key to the ‘good governance’ for the developing countries like India to minimize corruption, provides efficient and effective or quality services to their citizens.