E-governance, driven by integration of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to enhance government service delivery, has gained significant traction in India. Notable initiatives like the Digital India mission and the National e-governance plan have propelled its adoption across the country.
E-Governance helps by:
Effectiveness: Through automation, reduced paperwork, JAM trinity for public benefits, online submissions.
Transparency: Open data of governance, portals to track attendance, easier to access government documents.
Accountability: Easier to file RTIs, enhanced monitoring, crime prevention using facial recognition etc, informed citizens.
Inadequacies hampering the potential of e-Governance
Digital Divide: Disparities in internet access persist, with rural areas lagging far behind urban centers. Only a fraction of rural households (14.9%) has internet access compared to their urban counterparts (42%).
Gender Disparity: A digital gender divide prevails, with only 25% of adult women owning smartphones compared to 41% of adult men.
Language divide: Most e-governance resources are available in English or some in Hindi. However, most citizens cannot access them in their vernacular languages.
Low Digital Literacy: A substantial portion of the population lacks digital literacy, with only 38% of households being digitally literate. The lower functionaries of government themselves are not accustomed to operate computers.
Privacy & Security Concerns: Recent incidents, like the CoWIN portal data breach in 2023, have raised significant concerns regarding data privacy and security. Also, certain security organisations like defence etc. are susceptible to data thefts. Cyber-security challenges like Ransomware etc. also stall the implementation of e-governance.
Legal & Regulatory Gaps: The absence of comprehensive legal and regulatory frameworks addressing digital rights, data protection, and online accountability poses challenges.
Interoperability Challenges: Ensuring interoperability and data sharing among various government departments within e-governance remains complex and costly.
Corruption: India’s ranking of 85th out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perception Index (2021) highlights persistent corruption issues.
Inadequate Infrastructure: Inadequate internet connectivity and unreliable electricity supply in rural areas hinder effective e-governance. Legal challenges: India’s cyber-security laws are absolete and data protection regime has also not been established.
Thus, the realise the full potential of e-governance government is taking steps like creation of National Data Governance Framework, IndeA stack, AgriStack, enacting of Personal Data Protection bill. Further steps required as bridging digital divide, making websites available in vernacular languages, boosting the cyber-security architecture etc.