ICT and e-governance

Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based projects/programmes usually suffers in terms of certain vital factors. Identify these factors and suggest measures for their effective implementation.

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Misgovernance has been a major issue that have marred the effective implementation of government schemes and policies. Therefore, the government has been spearheading radical digitisation to induce economic inclusiveness and social transformation, through initiatives like, ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’ and Skill India.

However, implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based programmes usually faces another set of complex challenges.

Challenges in implementation of ICT based programmes

▪️Low digital literacy: Illiteracy rate in India is more than 25-30% and digital literacy is almost non-existent among more than 90% of India’s population.

▪️Poor internet connectivity: Rural India suffers from poor internet penetration due to lack of electricity and poor network quality. This has led to difficulties in Aadhaar Enabled Payment Services (AEPS) and last mile delivery of services.

▪️Problems in Common Service Centres: Lack of proper infrastructure facilities, unavailability of skilled workforce, huge population to serve, unavailability of last mile connectivity are some common issues faced by CSCs in India.

▪️Errors and Omissions in technology implemented: Issues related to identity mismatch and denial of services to beneficiaries. For ex: cases where senior citizens have been denied ration via PDS shops due to fingerprints mismatch.

▪️Non-inclusive nature of technology used: Problems faced by senior citizens, differently-abled, illiterate persons due to complex design of ICT based solutions.

▪️Privacy concerns: Programme implementation using digital technology requires authorization for collection and usage of public information at large scale. Since, privacy being a fundamental right, there are concerns related to mishandling and misuse of user information.

▪️Data theft and online security: Cyber security issues like cyber attacks, data theft can cripple sensitive government digital infrastructure like servers, power supply, communication links, etc.

▪️Geographical and weather related problems: Population residing in difficult terrains like North Eastern hilly region, islands of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep are difficult to reach. Extreme weather events like cyclones, tsunamis, etc can hamper key communication and mobile internet services.

Measures for effective implementation

▪️Creating suitable infrastructure: Increasing the number of Common Services Centres and addressing the connectivity issues should be the first priority.

▪️Increasing investment in human capital formation: Improving digital literacy among the rural youth. Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA) that envisages making one individual digitally literate in every rural household is a step in the right direction.

▪️Changes in design and structure of technological solutions: Government websites should be made user friendly so that they can be used by differently abled and senior citizens.

▪️Mandating digital literacy in school curriculum and co-curricular activities on the lines of IT Club ‘e-Kidz’ formed by students of the Government Upper Primary School at Koothattukulam in Kerala.

▪️Involving Private sector organizations: Corporates can be asked to spend their CSR funds in digital training and providing technological solutions for societal needs.

▪️Role of NGOs and civil society groups: Akshaya Patra Foundation digitized their kitchen and enabling realtime data collection for serving food to more than 1.76 million children across 12 states in India.

Even though there are several challenges in the effective implementation of such programmes but the benefits of ICT based solutions cannot be neglected. It helped to save revenue for exchequer by plugging leakages, weeding out ghost beneficiaries, targeted delivery of services in real time etc. It has improved transparency, accountability and last mile delivery of basic services to the citizens.

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