November 2018
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Embrace an E-Governance Law in India

There are many similarities between the problems faced in the educational and medical sectors in reaching high quality services to the rural and far flung areas

There are similarities between the problems faced in education  and medical sectors in reaching quality services to rural and far flung areas

ICTpost Governance Bureau

Considering the agrarian nature of our economy, it is vital that the IT boom should reincarnate the agricultural revolution of the 60s and the 70s. Such a paradigm shift would be possible only if agricultural extension services and other inputs and marketing related services take full advantage of the power of the IT revolution. This requires a complete review of current methods and practices and putting in place a new system. The enormity of the task dictates that it would take at least five years to put all the pieces in place. Encouraging steps have been taken in the form of establishment of the agricultural marketing network (AGMARKNET), Kisan Call Centre, etc. The challenge now is to evolve to a more comprehensive coverage of sector specific services based on a holistic view of sectoral needs.

There are many similarities between the problems faced in the educational and medical sectors in reaching high quality services to the rural and far flung areas. To the extent that these are problems related to distance, lack of high quality, skilled manpower at the remote location or even lack of appropriate equipment at such locations, ICTs offer great hope for breakthrough gains. There are enough instances on the ground in India today to form a reliable basis for extrapolation and assessment of the strengths and limitations of ICTs in providing high quality medical services in rural/ remote areas. A more proactive effort on the part of telemedicine and IT experts and medical policy makers is called for to bring in a new paradigm in the sector and integrate ICTs into health sector service delivery. A National Mission on Health Services through ICTs on the lines of the Mission in Education is perhaps called for to accelerate adoption and proliferation of benefits across the country.

 Insurance  

Many people in rural areas do not have access to modern services like insurance and are therefore either unable to withstand vagaries of nature or fall into the clutches of usurious local moneylenders or both. Availability of such services through appropriate ICT inter mediation in even far flung and remote locations would greatly ameliorate living conditions for impoverished people there. But ubiquitous availability of such services to eligible persons in villages requires almost as fundamental a rethink in the sector as in the case of financial services.

Create an open technology generic integrated platform for e-Governance that can be used by governments worldwide backed by strong support services by Indian IT industry and manpower. The time has come in a global context for such a platform based more on a service model rather than on a product or proprietary model. Many countries are seeking such models and India could become a leading player in this space. This would need to be funded by government initially as a research project with strong industry participation and later to be maintained and proliferated under a suitable framework, possibly one in which government owns the IPR or it is open sourced, but a strong government industry partnership maintains, propagates and supports it. A five year time frame within which two or three clear milestones could be set should be adequate for reaching a takeoff stage.

Adopt an E-Governance Law

With the consensus that has emerged in the country on the need to adopt e-Governance for the convenience of citizens as well as for many other reasons like access, speed, efficiency and so on, the time has now come to start the process of formulating an e-Governance law. Some of the key provisions of the law could be the following:

  • Making it mandatory for all forms relating to citizen and business services to be available online and with a facility to submit it online (this could also be made mandatory at a later date through service providers or assisted access);
  • No form to be legally valid unless this is done first;
  • Making it obligatory for the authorities concerned to take up for consideration electronically filed applications;
  • Making it mandatory that all major government schemes (especially citizen oriented ones) should be implemented on an e-Governance format with online reporting systems
  • Linking the process of budgetary provisions, sanctions and releases in an online environment to the online reporting system
  • Linking the implementation of individual-oriented government schemes to the individual ID to plug leakages and improve targeting.
  • Each of the goals outlined above requires drawing up of detailed implementation plans with specific milestones and timelines. Such a focused pursuit would surely help in our quest to leverage ICTs for the economic development of the country and become a world leader in this field.  editor@ictpost.com