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E-governance hopes rise as India crosses 1 billion transactions

by Prasad Krishna last modified Oct 29, 2013 04:48 AM
Government agencies and departments, regarded as bywords for inefficiency and red tape, have recorded over a billion e-governance transactions so far this year, watershed for the world's largest democracy that is betting on technology to cure its ills.

The article by J Srikant was published in the Economic Times on October 29, 2013. Sunil Abraham is quoted.

"It is an important milestone for India's e-governance initiative," said J Satyanarayana, secretary in the department of electronics and information technology. "With better accessibility and more projects getting completed, this number should keep rising."

Among states, Gujarat topped the list with around 389 million transactions while online payment for utility and government services was the most used government service with about 258 million transactions clocked in the year.

India is in the middle of implementing a large-scale e-governance programme which includes a vast information technology network to facilitate speedy delivery of public services. The most important of these are 31 'mission mode' projects being implemented by the central governments and states. Technology researcher Gartner estimates that government will spend Rs 36,800 crore on IT products and services in 2013. The most high-profile e-governance scheme is the unique identity project Aadhaar being implemented by former InfosysBSE -0.04 % CEO Nandan Nilekani. The biometric-linked scheme is targeting to enroll 600 million people by 2014.

A year ago, the country successfully commissioned an e-passport project where digitisation of applications and internal files vastly improved the time taken to issue new passports.

"Reaching a billion transactions with just about 100 million internet users is a commendable achievement and we should celebrate it," said Sunil Abraham, executive director of Centre for Internet and Society. "E-governance is a tough area to work in, not just in India but across the globe. So this performance should make us positive."

With more parts of the country getting connected through the National Optic Fibre Network, industry watchers expect more citizens to be accessing government services over the internet. The project aims to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats. The network has been launched in pockets of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Tripura, with some 80,500 transactions already recorded.

"This number (one billion) is a reflection of the increasing access of internet in the country and the acceptance of technology change happening," said Sanjoy Sen, senior director at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India. "E-governance helps in reducing cost and bottlenecks for the user and also brings down the time to get the work done. It is an important factor in today's economy."

Experts said that although it is working well for India, there are still certain steps that government needs to take to maintain the pace of expansion.

"Government should look at financially incentivising setting up of cyber cafes in rural India as these are an important aspect of improving the accessibility," said Abraham.

ASPI-CIS Partnership


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