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ICT and Governance
ICT and Governance: According to the revised syllabus, ICT and Governance is a new topic of UGC NET Paper 1. Before the discussion of the topic, get familiar with the term “ICT” and “Governance”.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
According to UNESCO, “ICT is a scientific, technological and engineering discipline and management techniques used in handling information and application and association with social, economical and cultural matters”.
World Bank defined as “ICT consists of hardware, software, networks, and media for collection, storage, processing, transmission, and presentation of information (voice, data, text, images).”
American Library Association (1983) defined information and communication technology (ICT) as:
The application of computers and other technologies to the acquisition, organization, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of information.
The computers are used to process and store data, while telecommunication technology provides information communication tools, which make it possible for users to access databases and link them with other computer networks at different locations.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), governance is the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. It comprises the mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences.
World Bank defined governance as the method through which power is exercised in the management of a country’s political, economic and social resources for development.
Governance is the systems and processes that ensure the overall effectiveness of an entity whether a business, government or multilateral institution.
World Bank defined as “E-Government refers to the use by government agencies of information technologies (such as Wide Area Networks, the Internet, and mobile computing) that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government. These technologies can serve a variety of different ends: better delivery of government services to citizens, improved interactions with business and industry, citizen empowerment through access to information, or more efficient government management. The resulting benefits can be less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience, revenue growth, and/or cost reductions.”
According to the United Nations; “E-government is defined as utilizing the Internet and the world-wide-web for delivering government information and services to citizens.”
ICT + Governance = e-Governance
So, we can define,
E-government involves using information technology, and especially the Internet, to improve the delivery of government services to citizens, businesses, and other government agencies. E-government enables citizens to interact and receive services from the federal, state or local governments twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Objectives of e-Governance
The following are the objectives e-Governance:
To build an informed society: An informed society is an empowered society. Only informed people can make a responsible Government. Access to every piece of information of the Government and of public importance is one of the basic objectives of E-Governance.
To increase Government and Citizen Interaction: E-Governance aims at building a feedback framework, to get feedback from the people and to make the government aware of people’s problems and to find solutions with their active involvement. To encourage citizen participation – E-governance aims to restore democracy to its true meaning by improving citizen participation in the Governing process, by improving the feedback, access to information and overall participation of the citizens in the decision making.
To bring transparency in the governing process: E-governance carries an objective to make the Governing process transparent by making all the Government data and information accessible to people. It is to make people know the decisions, and policies of the Government.
To make the Government accountable: Government is responsible and answerable for every decision taken by it. E-Governance aims to help the Government to be more accountable than now by bringing transparency and making the citizens more informed.
To reduce the cost of Governance: E-Governance also aims to reduce the cost of governance by cutting down expenditure on physical delivery of information and services particularly by cutting down on stationery, which amounts to most of the government expenditure.
To reduce the reaction time of the Government: Normally due to red-tapism and other reasons, the Government takes long to reply to people’s queries and problems. E-Governance aims to reduce the reaction time of the Government to the people’s queries and problems.
Advantages of e-Governance
Following are the important advantages of e-Governance:
Speed: Technology makes communication speedier. Internet, Phones and Cell Phones have reduced the time taken in normal communication.
Cost Reduction: Paper-based communication needs lots of stationary, printers, computers, etc. which calls for continuous heavy expenditure. Internet and Phones make communication cheaper saving valuable money for the Government.
Transparency: Use of ICT makes governing process transparent. This is possible when every piece of information of the Government is uploaded on the internet and is available for the public to peruse. The current governing process leaves many ways to conceal the information from the people. ICT helps the information available online, eliminating all possibilities of concealing information.
Accountability: Once the governing process is made transparent the Government is automatically made accountable. Accountability is the answerability of the Government to the people. It is the answerability for the deeds of the Government and accountability makes a responsible Government.
Scope of ICT and Governance (e-Governance)
Governance is all about the flow of information between the Government and Citizens, the Government and Businesses and the Government and Government. E-Governance covers all these relationships as follows:
- Government to Citizen (G2C)
- Citizen to Government (C2G)
- Government to Government (G2G)
- Government to Business (G2B)
Government to Citizen (G2C):
Government to Citizen relationship is the most basic aspect of E-Governance. The G2C relation includes the services provided by the Government to the Citizens. In modern times, Government deals with many aspects of the life of a citizen which include the public utility services i.e. Telecommunication, Transportation, Post, Medical facilities, Electricity, Education and some of the democratic services relating to the citizenship such as Certification, Registration, Licensing, Taxation, Passports, Aadhar Card, ID Cards etc. The relation of a citizen with the Government starts with the birth and ends with the death of the citizen. Therefore E-Governance in G2C relationship will involve facilitation of the services flowing from Government towards Citizens with the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Some of the emerging areas in G2C can be listed as follows:
E-Citizenship: E-Citizenship will include the implementation of ICT for the facilitation of Government Services relating to citizenship of an individual. It may involve online transactions relating to issue and renewal of documents like Ration Cards, Passports, Election Cards, Identity Cards, etc. It is required for the Government to create a virtual identity for every citizen so as to enable them to access the Government services online. For the same, the Government would need to create a Citizen Database which is a huge task.
E-Registration: E-Registration will cover the online registration of various contracts. Many of these contracts and transactions require registration for giving it legality and enforceability. Such registration may also be made ICT enabled. E-registration will help to reduce a significant amount of paperwork.
E-Transportation: E-Transportation includes ICT enabled services of Government, relating to Transport by Road, Rail, Water or Air. This may involve online:
- booking and cancellation of tickets,
- knowing the status of vehicles, railways, boats and flights,
- issue and renewal of driving licences,
- registration and renewal of vehicles,
- transfer of vehicles,
- payment of the fees of licences and-
- payment of fees and taxes for vehicle registration.
E-Health: E-Health services include ICT enabled health services of the Government. Under this, the interconnection of all hospitals may take place. Patient database and local pharmacy database may also be created.
E-Education: E-Education would cover the implementation of ICT in education. Distant as well as classroom education needs facilitation through the use of ICT. For instance, use of the internet reduces the communication time required in distance education. Internet may also help in conducting online classes.
E-Help: E-Help refers to the facilitation of disaster and crisis management using ICT. It includes the use of technologies like the internet and SMS for the purpose of reducing the response time of the Government agencies to the disasters. Online information relating to disasters, warnings and calls for help can assist the Government and the NGOs to coordinate their work and speed up the rescue work.
E-Taxation: E-Taxation will facilitate the taxing process by implementing ICT in the taxing process. Online tax due to alerts and online payment of taxes would help transact faster.
Citizen to Government (C2G):
Citizen to Government relationship will include the communication of citizens with the Government arising in the Democratic process like voting, campaigning, feedback, etc.
E-Democracy: The true concept of Democracy includes the participation of citizens in the democratic and governing process. Today due to the increased population the active participation of the citizens in the governing process is not possible. The ICT can help to enable the true democratic process including voting, public opinion, feedback and Government accountability.
E-Feedback: E-Feedback includes the use of ICT for the purpose of giving feedback to the Government. Lobbying is pursuing the Government to take a certain decision. Use of ICT can enable online feedback to the Government, online debates as to the Government services.
Government to Government (G2G):
G2G relationship includes the relationship between Central and State Government and also the relationship between two or more Government departments.
E-Administration: E-administration would include the implementation of ICT in the functioning of the Government, internally and externally. Implementation of ICT can reduce the communication time between the Government Departments and Governments. It can substantially reduce paperwork if properly used. E- the administration will also bring speed and transparency to the administration of Government Departments.
E-Police: The concept of E- Police is little different from Cyber-Police. Cyber Police require technology experts to curb electronic/cybercrimes. E-police refers to the use of ICT for the purpose of facilitating the work of the Police department in investigation and administration. The concept of e-police includes databases of Police Officers, their performances, Criminal databases – wanted as well as in custody, the trends in crimes and much more. ICT can help reduce the response time of the Police department and also reduce cost by reducing paperwork.
E-Courts: The concept of E-Court includes the ICT enablement of the judicial process. Technology may help distant hearing, online summons and warrants and online publication of judgment and decrees.
Government to Business (G2B):
E-Taxation: Corporate sector pays different types of taxes, duties and dues to the Government. Payment of these taxes and duties will be made easier by E-Taxation. Online taxing and online payment of taxes can help reduce the cost and time required for the physical submission of taxes. ICT can also help cross-check the frauds and deficiencies in payment, further bringing accuracy and revenue to the Government.
E-Licensing: Companies have to acquire various licenses from the Government, similarly the companies have to acquire various registrations. ICT enablement of the licensing and registration can reduce time and cost.
E-Tendering: E-Tendering will include the facilities of online tendering and procurement. It alerts to new opportunities of business with the Government, and also online submission of tenders and online allotment of work. It will reduce the time and cost involved in the physical tendering system.
Emerging Areas for ICT and Governance in India
Agriculture Allied Services: To provide real-time information to the farmers on crop prices, the new technique, use of fertilizers, post-harvest processing, disbursement of cash and monitoring of agricultural credit. Farmers can use a network of telecentres to co-ordinate their planning.
Education: Literacy is the key challenge which affects major problems of society and only e-governance is one of the probable ways, which can solve the problem. As rural India suffers from inadequate education services, e-governance can play an important role in the delivery of education to rural areas. Using technology, students in these villages can be taught by teachers in urban areas. With this in mind, the Government of India has taken significant effort by launching of ‘EDUSAT’ the first Indian satellite built exclusively for serving the educational sector.
Health and Sanitation: E-governance can be used as a tool for comprehensive management of hospitals and health centres in the villages to ensure the proper delivery of health-related services in rural India. ICT is being used in developing countries to facilitate remote consultation diagnosis and treatment. The immunization process can also be covered by e-governance so that the percentage of child vaccination can be improved to a great extent. An infant child can be registered, and as a result of that his/her vaccination detail can be uploaded to a centralized database of the portal. An SMS service can be implemented to remind the parents about the scheduled vaccination day for their child. It will also help not only in the process of immunization but also in monitoring the vaccination programmes in various states.
ICT in energy conservation: Information and Communication Technologies can play a crucial role in achieving an energy-efficient and low-carbon economy. The European Commission has put ICT at the forefront of an energy revolution. Using ICT in a smart way could help to reduce energy consumption in buildings by 17%, transport and logistics by 27%, and save 15% in total carbon emissions by 2020. ICT can improve energy efficiency in several ways.
Palvia, S. C. J., & Sharma, S. S. (2007, December). E-government and e-governance: definitions/domain framework and status around the world. In International Conference on E-governance (No. 5, pp. 1-12). (https://iceg.net/2007/books/1/1_369.pdf)