Strategies for E-Governance in India

1. To build technical infrastructure/framework across India

India lacks a full fledged ICT framework for implementation of e-governance. Complete implementation of E-governance in India will include building technical Hardware and Software infrastructure. It will also include better and faster connectivity options. Newer connectivity options will include faster Broadband connections and faster wireless networks such as 3G and 4G. The infrastructure must be built by Government, Private Sector as well as individuals. Infrastructure will also include promotion of Internet Cafes, Information and Interactive Kiosks. However while building technical infrastructure, disabled persons must also be considered. The technology implemented, shall incorporate the disabled persons.

2. To build institutional capacity

Apart from building technical infrastructure, the Government needs to build its institutional capacity. This will include training of Government employees, appointment of experts. Alongwith the Government has also to create an Expert database for better utilisation of intellectual resources with it. Apart from this, the Government has to equip the departments with hi-technology and has also to setup special investigating agency.

3. To build legal infrastructure

For better implementation of e-governance, the Government will need to frame laws which will fully incorporate the established as will as emerging technology. Changing technology has changed many pre-established notions; similarly the technology is growing and changing rapidly. It is important, that the Government makes laws which incorporate the current technology and has enough space to incorporate the changing future technology. These IT laws need to be flexible to adjust with the rapidly changing technology. Currently India has only the IT Act, 2000 which is mainly an E-Commerce legislation. India has also modified many laws to include electronic technology, however it is not sufficient to cover e-governance completely.

4. To build judicial infrastructure

Overall technological awareness in current Judges is very low. The judiciary as a whole needs to be trained in new technology, its benefits and drawbacks and the various usages. The judiciary may alternatively appoint new judges with new judges and setup special Courts to deal with the matters relating to ICT. The Government can also setup special tribunals to deal with matters relating with ICT.

5. To make all information available online

The Government has to publish all the information online through websites. This can be facilitated through centralised 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.

6. To popularise E-governance

Literacy percentage in India is alarming. The whole world is moving towards e-governance, but India still lacks in the literacy department. The people need to be educated and made e-literate for e-governance to flourish. There are very few e-literate people in India is very low. The Government needs to campaign for e-governance, increase people’s awareness towards e-governance. Government can only encourage people to go online if it can make people feel comfortable with e-governance. This can be done through educating the people about the advantages of e-governance over physical governance. This can also be done through raising awareness of the leaders who can motivate the people to go online.

7. Centre-State Partnership

Indian setup is quasi-federal. Therefore Centre-State and inter-state cooperation is necessary for smooth functioning of the democratic process. This cooperation is also necessary for successful implementation of e-governance. This cooperation shall extend to Centre-state, inter-state and inter-department relationships. For the same the Government can setup a Central Hub like the current Government of India portal, for accessing the information of all the organs of the central government and also all the state government. The states can cooperate with the Centre to create a National Citizen Database.

8. To set standards

Finally it is important to set various standards to bring e-governance to the quality and performance level of private corporate sector. The Government of India is currently working on standards management and has various drafts prepared for the same. These standards include following: Inter-operability standards, Security standards, Technical standards, Quality standards. Government websites in India currently have no uniform standard. Many Government of Maharashtra websites differ in standards within even two of its webpages. There is no set standard as to quality of the information, document, the formats, etc. It is very important for the Government to set uniform national standards to be followed by all the Governments and agencies.

Stages of E-Governance

United Nations E-Readiness Survey contemplates the following stages of E-governance as to the online presence of Governments worldwide:

1. Emerging Presence – The Stage I i.e. Emerging presence considers online availability of limited and basic information. A basic online presence of an e-government involves an official website and few WebPages. Links to ministries and departments of Central Government, regional/local Government may or may not be available. The website at this stage may also have some archived information such as the head of states’ messages or the constitution. However at this stage most of the information remains static without there being any options for citizens.

2. Enhanced presence – The Stage II contemplated by UN is Enhanced presence of the Government online. At this stage the Government provides more public information resources such as policies of the Government, laws, regulations, reports, newsletters. This may also be downloadable at this stage. This stage may allow users to search the information within the documents available online. A help and a sitemap feature may also be provided on the website to make navigation of the website simpler. At this stage though there are more number of documents available online, the navigation of the website is still not sophisticated and is unidirectional. There are no interactivity at this stage as the information is only flowing towards the citizens rather than also from citizens to Government.

3. Interactive presence – The Stage III of Interactive presence considers Governments to initiate interactivity in their websites. It involves availability of online services of the government to enhance convenience of the consumer. This will include downloadable forms and applications for payment of bills, taxes and renewal of licenses. Government Websites at this stage would have audio and video capability to increase the interactivity with the citizens. At this stage the government officials would be able contacted via email, fax, telephone and post. The website would be updated regularly to keep the information current and up to date for the public.

4. Transactional presence – The Stage IV i.e. Transactional presence allows two-way interaction between the citizens and Government. It includes options such as paying taxes, applying for ID cards, birth certificates, passports, license renewals and other similar C2G interactions by allowing the citizen to submit forms and applications online 24/7. The citizens at this stage will be able to pay for relevant public services, such as motor vehicle violation, taxes, fees for postal services through their credit, bank or debit card. Providers of goods and services are able to bid online for public contacts via secure links.

5. Networked presence – The Stage V as contemplated by UN Survey is ‘Networked Presence’ which represents the most sophisticated level in the online e-government initiatives. It can be characterized by an integration of G2G, G2C and C2G interactions. The government at this stage encourages citizen participation, online participatory decision-making and is willing and able to involve the society in a two-way open dialogue. Through interactive features such as the web comment form, and innovative online consultation mechanisms, the government will actively solicits citizens’ views on public policy, law making, and democratic participatory decision making. At this stage of E-governance the integration of the public sector agencies with full cooperation and understanding of the concept of collective decision-making, participatory democracy and citizen empowerment as a democratic right, is initiated.

Aspects of E-Governance

1. Information Management
Identity and Access Management
Content Management
Standards Management
ICT Legal Framework

1. Information Management

Information management is gathering and storing at one place, the information relating to the Government and Governing process. It is the systematic arrangement/classification of information. If the information of the Government is gathered at one place without any arrangement or management, it would prove difficult for the users to find the required information. Managing information is an important aspect of E-governance. Information management addresses the issues like – How to provide? What to provide? Whom to Provide? When to provide? Where to provide? Why to provide?

The process of information management may further be divided into three aspects – (1) Database Management, (2) Indicator Management, and (3) Knowledge Management. Database Management involves bare compilation and organisation of data and information at one place. Indicator Management involves storing with the information the catch words, labels, tags, meanings and context relating to the information. Knowledge Management involves managing the skills and know-how of the employees/experts of the Government for benefit of the Government.

Information management is an integral aspect of E-commerce. It also proves essential for E-Governance. It helps transform the governing process in a business-like efficient and cost-effective process. Information management aims at reducing cost, improving performance, differentiating of products and services of Government, specialised/customised information, and citizen focus.

Information management involves following stages –

  1. Gathering – gathering all the available information of the government
  2. Creating – creating information which is lost or not available
  3. Storing – storing the gathered information in one place
  4. Accessing – accessing of stored information by the people
  5. Distributing – distributing required information to the public
  6. Ignoring – ignoring the information not publicly important
  7. Discarding – discarding ignored and insignificant information
  8. Updating – continuous updating information
  9. Securing – securing the information with latest technology so as to give access to information to those who really require it.

2. Identity and Access Management

Identity management is a set of processes and infrastructure for the creation, maintenance and use of digital identities for the purpose of access to E-governance portals and the information on those portals. Well established Identity management system helps setup an Access management system. The object of Identity Management is to create scalable, extensible and secure standards based framework for identity data acquisition and storage.

Access management involves authentication of identity of the user and giving access to the Government and public information available online. Access management is necessary to give a secure access to information to the public. Securing of public information available online is very important due to recent online piracy and attacks on websites through hacking. E-governance would involve huge of sensitive public information up for grabs for the hackers of other countries. Further there are certain things which require to be accessed by only the Government officials. So online security of information is very necessary which can be done through Access management. Access management is only possible if there is an Identity Management system is already online and running successfully.

The identities can be classified as follows: (1) Citizens, (2) Employees, (3) Customers, (4) Organisations, (5) Agencies, (6) Partners, etc.

The process of Identity Management involves following stages

a) Citizen Request – The first stage is the Citizens’ requests for creation of identities. This may be done physically by submitting forms and documents.

b) Verification – The second stage is to physically verify the identities by crosschecking various documents, photo identities, etc.

c) Assignment of identifier – The Government has to assign a unique identifier which may be a number or a username and password to every citizen so as to eliminate multiplicity of identities. Today according to the emerging technologies the identifiers may also be in the form of biometrics, digital certificates, smart cards, etc.

d) Storage of Identities in ID stores/databases – Once an identifier is assigned/username and password is created, the identities are stored in the identity stores.

The process of Access Management involves following stages:

a) Authentication – Once a user wants to access online portal, he will need to access it through the unique identifier assigned after registration. After the user enters the username and passwords or through any other authentication process like biometrics, digital certificates, etc. his access to the portal is authenticated.

b) Authorisation – Authorisation of user depends on the type the user belongs. The user may be administrator, Manager, Author, Creator, user, etc. A user will only be authorised to access the information. The Administrator is authorised to change the information.

c) Access Control – Based on the authorisation of the user, his access of information in various areas will be controlled. This will be based on the type of user, i.e. Administrator, user, etc.

d) Audit and Reporting – Audit and Reporting involves the monitoring the access of information by users, their authority and access rights. This helps in improving the access security and also the security of the information.

Advantages/Benefits of Identity and Access Management

a) Elimination of storage of duplicate identities

b) Interoperability of applications by enforcement of data standardisation

c) Single Sign in

d) Secure Access

e) Curbing unauthorised access

f) Increased Citizen participation

g) Improve performance of the Government Services

h) Improve Service Delivery

i) 24x7 availability of Government services

3. Content Management

Content management is the process of organising, distributing and tracking information/data through a website over the internet. It helps to make users more knowledgeable or informed by offering instant access to correct information online. It deals with providing right information, to right people at right time.

Contents of a website can be divided as follows: Text, Graphics, Audio, Video, Diagrams, Links, etc. Managing this various type of content is important. It is necessary to decide where to provide text and where images and graphics.

Content management further involves:

a) Web based publishing – publishing webpages, documents, charts, graphs, etc online on a website;

b) Format management – following practise of fixed formats for webpages, text, graphics, audio and video;

c) Revision – involves continuous updating of information;

d) Indexing – creating indexes of the topics and subjects of which information is available on the website;

e) Search – providing search facility to users to find out exact data that user wants.

Object of Content Management

a) To Communicate Right Data to Right People at Right Time

b) To ensure that the contents are need based, relevant, up to date and accurate

c) To avoid duplication of content

Essentials of Content Management

a) Centralised storage – information must be stored centrally, i.e. at one place to make access easy and avoid complications of networking and computing;

b) Reviewing and Authentication of Contents – The contents of the website must be continuously reviewed and authenticated so as to maintain the authenticity of the data available on the website. It must also be done for providing relevant content/information on the website;

c) Access of data by the end user – Unless the user access the data published on the website, the whole effort is in vain.

4. Standards Management

ICT provides many ways to achieve E-governance. There are multiple formats to deal with webpages, text, graphics, audio, and video. However, as seen currently, there is no uniformity in the e-governance websites as to the use of formats. There are also various levels of technologies, basic and advanced. For e-governance, basic technologies are not sufficient because of the security concerns of sensitive data/information. Therefore, e-governance websites have to maintain standards. Standards management involves further aspects as follows:

1. Network and information Security Standards

2. Meta data and data standards

3. Localisation and language technology

4. Quality and documentation standards

5. Technical standards

6. Web accessibility standards