E-Governance Explained

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Mains: GS II –

  •  Important Aspects Of Governance
What is e-Governance?

e-Governance or electronic governance implies the application of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to government functioning.

  • According to the World Bank, e-governance refers to the use by government agencies of information technologies (such as Wide Area Networks, the Internet, and mobile computing) that can transform relations with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government.
  • e-Governance is a move towards SMART governance.
Types of interactions in e-Governance:

There are four types of interactions in e-Governance viz., government to citizens (G2C), government to business (G2B), government to government, that is, inter-agency relationships (G2G), and government to employees (G2E). 

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has explained the above four types of interactions in its report on in e-Governance in the following manner: 

  1. G2C (Government to Citizens): In this case, an interface is created between the government and citizens which enables citizens to benefit from efficient delivery of a large range of public services. It gives citizens the choice of when to interact with the government (being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week), from where to interact with the government (e.g., service centre, unattended kiosk, or from one’s home/workplace) and how to interact with the government (e.g., through the internet, fax, telephone, email, face-to-face, etc). The primary purpose is to make the government, citizen-friendly. 
  2. G2B (Government to Business): Here, e-Governance tools are used to aid the business community to seamlessly interact with the government. The objective is to cut red tape, save time, reduce operational costs, and to create a more transparent business environment when dealing with the government.  These measures help to provide a congenial environment to businesses to enable them to perform more efficiently. 
  3. G2G (Government to Government): In this case, Information and Communications Technology is used not only to restructure the government processes involved in the functioning of government entities but also to increase the flow of information and services within and between different entities. This kind of interaction is, between different government agencies as well as between national, provincial, and local governments. The primary objective is to increase efficiency, performance, and output. 
  4. G2E (Government to Employees): The government is by far the biggest employer and like any organisation, it has to interact with its employees regularly. This interaction is a two-way process between the organisation and the employee. The use of ICT tools helps in making these interactions fast and efficient on the one hand and increases satisfaction levels of employees on the other
What are the Benefits of e-Governance?

Evolution of e-governance in India

  • Recognizing the increasing importance of electronics, the Government of India established the Department of Electronics in 1970. The subsequent establishment of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) in 1977 was the first major step towards e-Governance.
  • With the economic reforms in 1991, the model of e-governance in India gained a fillip due to convergence in the availability of progressive technologies and opportunities in this field.
  • A National Task Force on Information Technology and Software Development was set-up in 1998.
  • The Ministry of Information Technology was created at the Centre in 1999.
  • In the year 2000, a 12-point minimum agenda for e-Governance was identified for implementation in all the central ministries and departments. The Information Technology Act (2000) was enacted.
  • The National Policy on Information Technology (NPIT) was approved in 2012. It focuses on the deployment of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in all sectors of the economy and providing IT-based solutions to address citizen-centric issues.
  • And here we are now, at with ambitious project of Digital India, which will enable us to achieve the motive of “minimum government, maximum governance”

Blockchain to be used in voting?

In an online conference by the Election Commission, the Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (“TNeGA”) and IIT Madras, explored the possibility of using blockchain technology to enable remote elections.


Why E-governance matters to India in today's context?
  • Governance is a challenge in a country as vast, diverse, and rapidly developing as India. That’s where new technologies intervene and enable large-scale transformation and help in the implementation of ambitious government plans.
  • India is among the fastest developing economies in the world, we ranked 58th in 2019's Global Competitiveness Index. With this pace of growth, it needs to be equitable and inclusive.
  • As a result, India is gearing up for an era of increased digitisation, after the advent of Industry 4.0, powered by new-age technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence, and Robotics.
Significance of e-governance

ICT applications impact the structures of public administration systems.

Technological advancements facilitate administrative systems by enabling: 

  1. Administrative Development; and 
  2. Effective Service Delivery


Administrative reforms, often, have focused on procedural details and restructuring of systems and processes of government organisations. The basic objective of these reforms is to enhance the capacities of the systems. ICTs can be used and are being used now to give further impetus to the process. They help in the following manners:

  1. Automation of Administrative Processes- A truly e-governed system would require minimal human intervention and would rather be system driven. Now administrative departments are computerised and connected through a network. The departments have launched individual websites carrying information of their respective departments. This has enabled the online carrying of operations and file movements. Budgeting, accounting, data flow, etc. have become easy. This has increased the efficiency of office operations and processes and has reduced unnecessary delays.
  2. Paper Work Reduction
  3. Quality of Services- ICT helps governments to deliver services to the citizens with greater accountability, responsiveness, and sensitivity. Quality of services improves, as now the people can get services efficiently and instantaneously. By ensuring online redressal of grievances the accountability of officials is ensured
  4. Elimination of Hierarchy Technology has reduced procedural delays caused by hierarchical processes in the organisation. Computerisation and communication patterns have increased efficiency and have led to the involvement of all levels in decision-making.
  5. Change in Administrative Culture- Bureaucratic structures have been plagued by characteristics aptly described by Victor Thompson as ‘bureau-pathology’. Efforts have been made to find ways to deal with the pathological or dysfunctional aspects of bureaucratic behaviour and to make the delivery of public services effective and efficient.With e-governance, public actions coming under public glare would certainly induce norms and values of accountability, openness, integrity, fairness, equity, responsibility, and justice in the administrative culture. Rather, the administration would become efficient and responsive


  1. Transparency- by dissemination and publication of information on the web. This provides easy access to information and subsequently makes the system publicly accountable. Also as web enables the free flow of information, it can be easily accessed by all without any discrimination.
  2. Economic Development- The deployment of ICTs reduces transaction costs, which makes services cheaper. For example, rural areas suffer on account of lack of information regarding markets, products, agriculture, health, education, weather, etc. and if all this could be accessed online would lead to better and more opportunities and thereby prosperity in these areas. 
  3. Social Development- The access to information empowers the citizens. The Informed citizenry can participate and voice their concerns, which can be accommodated in the programme/ project formulation, implementation, monitoring and service delivery. Web-enabled participation will counter the discriminatory factors affecting our societal behaviour.


Hong Kong:

  • The official website of Hong Kong has ranked among the top 5 cities across most of the Global E-Governance Surveys, particularly in the Usability category.
  • The one-stop govt portal, “GovHK” provides the public with convenient access to a wide range of government information and services.
  • The Hong Kong e-government includes the domains of Smart Transportation, Smart Living, Smart Environment, Smart Economy, Smart People, Smart Government, and Open Data.

Kenya's Open Data Initiative:

  • It is a new concept of e-government online application aimed at making government data accessible to the people of Kenya (for example, national census data, government expenditure, parliamentary proceedings, and public service locations).
  • The data provided improves transparency by unlocking social and economic value and building Government 2.0 in Kenya.

South Korea's New Subcontractor Payment System:

  • The Seoul Metropolitan Government has adopted this system to address problems such as rampant corruption, unpaid wages for workers, vagueness in subcontract amounts, non-payment, weakness in the direct payment scheme, and unsystematic project management in the construction area.
  • The city government of Seoul decided to make separate payments for prime contractors and subcontractors, and also made an online system payment “e-Immediately”, to ensure that a prime contractor has paid its subcontractors, materials, and equipment vendors as well as its workers before receiving monthly progress payments from the city government.
  • In collaboration with financial institutions, the monthly payments are made instantly to the prime contractor once all its payables are settled.
  • This new measure can protect the weakest link in the chain, improve construction work efficiency, and increase citizens’ convenience through easy access to critical information. 

SEED initiative in Europe:

  • Speeding Every European Digital (SEED) is a joint project rooted in the European Commission’s Digital Agenda as revealed in 2011.
  • SEED service uses Interactive Public Service Advertising (i-PSA) strategies a message is advertised and visible in public places, usually at the points where citizens come to inform themselves about public services.
  • For instance, while waiting in a queue at the Municipality, a citizen is interactively informed by i-PSA message about the e-gov option of online service or about self-service desks so they can avoid queuing.

Traffic management in  China:

  • an artificial intelligence-based traffic management platform developed by Alibaba has helped improve average speeds by 15%.


India's e-governance  Initiatives

In 2006, the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) was formulated by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances that aims at making all government services accessible to the common man, ensure efficiency, transparency, and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realise the basic needs of the common man. 

The NeGP has enabled many e-governance initiatives like: 

  • Digital India was launched in 2015 to empower the country digitally.  Its main components are:
    • Developing a secure and stable digital infrastructure
    • Delivering government services digitally
    • Achieving universal digital literacy
  • Aadhar is a unique identification number issued by UIDAI that serves as proof of identity and address based on biometric data. It is being used to provide many benefits to the members of society. One can e-sign documents using Aadhar. 
  • myGov.in is a national citizen engagement platform where people can share ideas and be involved with matters of policy and governance. 
  • UMANG is a Unified Mobile Application that provides access to central and state government services including Aadhar, Digital Locker, PAN, Employee Provident Fund services, etc. 
  • Digital Locker helps citizens digitally store important documents like mark sheets, PAN, Aadhar, and degree certificates. This reduces the need for physical documents and facilitates easy sharing of documents.  
  • PayGov facilitates online payments to all public and private banks. 
  • Mobile Seva aims at providing government services through mobile phones and tablets. The m-App store has over 200 live applications that can be used to access various government services. 
  • Computerization of Land Records ensures that landowner gets digital and updated copies of documents relating to their property.  

In addition to the above, State level e-governance initiatives include:

  • E-Seva (Andhra Pradesh) facilitates payment of utility bills, issuance of certificates, licenses, and permits. 
  • Khajane Project (Karnataka) digitalized the treasury system of the state.
  • FRIENDS (Kerala) is a single-window facility to pay taxes and other financial dues to the State government. 
  • Lokvani Project (Uttar Pradesh) is a single-window solution relating to the handling of grievances, land record maintenance, and providing a mixture of essential services.

UN's e-governance development index (EGDI)

  • The UN E-Government Survey 2018 has ranked India at 96th position for its performance in the development and execution of information technologies, up from 107 in 2016 and 118 in 2014 —a massive leap over the years.
  • The survey, published every two years, ranks 193 UN member states on basis of their performance on three dimensions:
    1. online service index (OSI), 
    2. telecommunication infrastructure index(TII), 
    3. human capital index (HCI).
  • The survey is aimed at serving as a development tool for countries to identify areas of strength and challenges in e-government and shape their policies and strategies.


Issues and Challenges in India's e-Governance

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India and a visionary in the field of e-Governance has aptly summarized the basic challenge lying before the country in this regard: 

“e-Governance has to be citizen-friendly. The delivery of services to citizens is considered a primary function of the government. In a democratic nation of over one billion people like India, e-Governance should enable seamless access to information and seamless flow of information across the state and central government in the federal set up. No country has so far implemented an e-Governance system for one billion people. It is a big challenge for us.

  1. Work Plan: The ‘Working Group on E-Government in the Developing World’ considers infrastructure, economic health, education, information policies, etc. as crucial factors for the success of e-governance projects. If these factors are well in place then they can lay down the roadmap for effective e-governance implementation. Countries like India, face problems of low connectivity, technical professionals, finances, and other resources coupled with inappropriate planning. Hence, it becomes difficult to develop specific applications and services.
  2. Different languages: India is a country where people with different cultures and different religions live. Governance applications are written in English which may not be understood by most people. Therefore, it becomes a challenge for the government to write e-Governance applications in regional languages, to reach the people.
  3. Low Digital literacy: only 10% of the population is digitally literate. There are efforts like 'PM Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan' going on, but we need to speed up them.
  4. Accessibility: Even though the Internet users are growing there is a major part of the Indian population that does not have access to e-Governance services for a variety of reasons, e.g. some people may not own mobile phones, internet connection, electricity issues, etc. The Digital divide among rural-urban areas, gender-wise is a major challenge.
  5. Limited financial resources: Its implementation in India is a humungous task due to the vast area and population. A huge cost is involved in the implementation, operational and evolutionary maintenance tasks of these activities. Added to it are the differential capacities of states and local governments.
  6. Resistance to change: this issue persists among citizens as well as the people within the administration. Citizens are adapted to paperwork and are apprehensive of online transactions. We need to establish their trust first.
  7. Privacy and Security: there is no data protection law in place, hence privacy is even more of a concern. The Adhaar Bill met with a lot of resistance due to this. Also, the government's critical infrastructure, websites are under threat of cyber attacks.
  8. Interoperability among various levels of government- centre, state, local; as well as among ministries is another issue.

Learning from Telangana's e-Governance initiatives: 

  • Hyderabad Open Transit Data, launched by Open Data Telangana, is the country’s first data portal publishing datasets on bus stops, bus routes, metro routes, metro stations, schedules, fares, and frequency of public transit services.
  • Hyderabad has also begun collaborating with the private sector to improve traffic infrastructure. One such partnership followed a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Telangana government and Ola Mobility Institute.
  • Under this collaboration, Ola has developed a tool, Ola City Sense, to provide data-based insights that can monitor the quality of Hyderabad’s roads and identify bad quality patches. The data is provided to city officials on a dashboard, and updated every 2-3 weeks to capture the nature of potholes/roads.
  • The information thus given is useful not only for carrying out road repairs, but it also helps officials take initiatives to improve road safety, monitor the quality of construction, and study the role of bad roads is causing congestion.


What reforms do we need in our e-Governance?

The 11th report of 2nd ARC gives detailed recommendations in this case-

1. Building a congenial environment is a sine qua non for the successful implementation of e-Governance initiatives. This should be achieved by: 

  1. Creating and displaying a will to change within the government
  2. Providing political support at the highest level 
  3. Incentivising e-Governance and overcoming the resistance to change within government 
  4. Creating awareness in the public to generate demand for change.

2. Identification of e-Governance Projects and Prioritisation:

Government organizations/departments at Union and State government levels need to identify e-Governance initiatives that could be implemented after prioritizing them based on ease of implementation, keeping the needs of the citizens in mind. Such initiatives may be categorized as follows: 

  1. Initiatives that would provide timely and useful information to the citizens.
  2. Initiatives that allow for making elementary online transactions including the payment for services. 
  3. Initiatives that require verification of information/data submitted online. 
  4. Initiatives that require the creation and integration of complex databases.

3. Business Process Re-engineering (BPR):

The processes and structures in government organizations generally owe their existence to colonial times. We need to re-engineer them to suit them to today's times which have evolved enormously. We can do it by:

  1. Analyzing every function of institutions and government functioning to ensure its simplicity and rationality.
  2. After identifying steps that are redundant or which require simplification, and which are adaptable to e-Governance, the provisions of the law, rules, regulations, instructions, codes, manuals, etc. which form their basis should also be identified.
  3. Following this exercise, governmental forms, processes, and structures should be re-designed to make them adaptable to e-Governance, backed by procedural, institutional, and legal changes.

4. Capacity Building and Creating Awareness:

  1. Such efforts must attend to both the organizational capacity building as also the professional and skills up-gradation of individuals associated with the implementation of e-Governance projects.,
  2. A network of training institutions needs to be created in the States with the Administrative Training Institutes at the apex
  3. Lessons learned from previous successful e-Governance initiatives should be incorporated in training programmes.
  4. The recommendations made by the 2nd ARC in the report entitled ‘Unlocking Human Capital’ should be adopted for creating awareness among people concerning e-Governance initiatives.

6. Implementation:

  1. Should involve periodic independent evaluation of the information available on their websites from the citizens perspective and then re-design their websites based on the feedback obtained
  2. Planning each activity in detail 
  3. Allocating resources, both human and financial  
  4. Need-based mid-course correction

7. Monitoring and Evaluation:

  • Even though e-Governance projects are generally rolled out after testing them at the pilot stage, such projects need continuous monitoring. 

8. Protecting Critical Information Infrastructure Assets: 

  • There is a need to develop critical information infrastructure assets protection strategy.
  • This should be supplemented with improved analysis and warning capabilities as well as improved information sharing on threats and vulnerabilities.
  • It should involve finding out the implementation status at any given point of time, tracking the inputs against projected estimates, and identifying the corrective measures in case of any variations.

What Connects a Corporate Giant, Farmers, and We the Consumer? Meet ITC e-Choupal

  • This initiative has enabled farmers from over 40,000 villages to make better choices and offered insights on better farm practices.
  • In Narsingkheda village of Madhya Pradesh, however, a farmer has found an avenue to overcome these struggles. Like many farmers across India, Kishore Singh’s livelihood depends on the soil.
  • Everything changed for Singh in 2006 when the diversified conglomerate ITC introduced an e-Choupal to his village.
  • To the uninitiated, an ITC e-Choupal is an internet kiosk in the home of a fellow villager.
  • An innovative model embedded with social goals, the ITC e-Choupal empowers farmers and hopes to trigger higher productivity and income through a host of services related to know-how, best practices, timely and relevant weather information, the transparent discovery of prices, access to quality agri-inputs at competitive prices and so on.


E-governance possibilities for India in a post-Covid era

The COVID-19 pandemic came like a bolt from the blue and knocked our civilisation’s complacency for a loop. 

Such incidents force us to reflect upon our position and velocity as an intelligent species and make us introspect on some flawed designs. In this case, e-governance which needs to be looked at with a different perspective. Digitisation can help bypass the vulnerabilities India faces in crises like the present pandemic.

  • Managing our various resources:
    • Human Resource: We track the human resource through census, surveys, etc. But the Aadhaar card is a living ID whose details can be updated instantly, whereas the Census wakes up only once in ten years. To fix this mismatch, Census will have to be both Aadhar-linked and fully digital. This will convert the Census from an exercise to a ‘super-card’ for every Indian which can subsume all individual IDs and become a field of data updatable in real-time, and serving as an engine for e-delivery of public services.
    • Money:  The complete money supply in India is already under the scanner of RBI which releases figures fortnightly on its website. However, with the advent of cryptocurrencies in the future, RBI’s radar may require a wider bandwidth.
    • Land: Natural resources (including land) are perhaps the most imperfectly measured class of resources.  The current pandemic must serve to fillip the government to expedite its Digital India Land Records Programme and make an extra effort to build it on a blockchain interface so that adequate land allocation can be done for residential, commercial and agricultural purposes. Similarly, man-made infrastructure like road, rail, electricity, etc. which are allocatable across different sectors requires mapping and recording digitally.
  • Changing the way of co-ordination among sectors:
    • There is a flow of goods and services among the sectors like household, administration, business, etc. For example, public services flow from the government to the household sector. Taxation is a flow in the opposite direction.
    • These processes require coordination. The government acts as the heart of the entire coordination tree, and directly or indirectly (through its protocols) acts as the middleman in this flow between any two sectors.
    • Realising this, the India Enterprise Architecture(IndEA) is being implemented by the National eGovernance Division of the government to streamline the complete government work-model based on a ‘one-government’ backbone.
    • Thus so far it is evident how digitisation can streamline the recording, allocation, and coordination of resources across sectors.
  • Aarogya Setu app and other allied initiatives like the National e-Health Authority and new telemedicine guidelines are coalescing towards a National Health Stack which is aimed to be completed by 2022. From filling healthcare needs in remote areas to building data-driven public policy on health, the use of technology fulfills many roles, and most importantly in some of the most remote areas of the country.
  • Indian states used the COVID-19 opportunity to further spread the use of technology – whether it is the use of Collaborative Robots (Co-Bot) by the government of Jharkhand or the municipal corporation of Bengaluru, using drones to spray disinfectants, survey areas, monitor containment zones and make public announcements.

The importance of e-governance has never been felt more strongly than in this COVID-19 situation.

  • After examining the various aspects of e-Governance reforms in India, it can be concluded that in any eGovernance initiative, the emphasis has to be first on governance reforms and ICT tools can be utilized to bring about those fundamental changes.
  • The complex nature of governance in India demands a holistic approach. Shedding silos and embracing the principle of ‘Collaborative Creation’ should be the focus. If we achieve this, we pave the way towards building an inclusive society with the potential to tackle any crisis, including the current pandemic.

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