The Information and Communication Technology helps to simplify tasks, the government services more effective and make the government processes more efficient. It also can improve citizen participation in governance. It means Information and Technology have become a part of good governance. Despite, the government stepped towards E-governance, there are various vital factors that affect the implementation of ICT based government projects or programmes. However, the government has tried to address the issue to implement effectively by various policies.
Information and Communication Technology has become the backbone of the various schemes and programmes of the government. It has considerably enhanced service delivery and beneficiary identification. Especially, for a vast country like India, digitalization is major steps towards better governance. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays a vital role in sharing information in this era so, it is not only enabled citizens to enjoy various services with ease but also enhance governance efficiency.
So, Information and communication technologies are unprecedentedly changing the ways in which people connect and network with each other, the mode and philosophy of government-citizen relations and methods of knowledge and information sharing. As the government of India pushes hard towards a digital society, so all the government schemes and programmes aim to cover the wide range of application of Information and Communication Technology. All the projects/Programmes are now co-ordinated under the umbrella scheme – The Digital India. It has the vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. But, the implementation of ICT based programmes and schemes has suffered due to various deficiencies
Vital factors that affect the implementation of ICT Based Projects
Digital Divide: Digital divide is the significant divide between the rural and urban, rich and poor people.
Low digital illiteracy- About 90% of the Indian population is digitally illiterate. The lack of digital literacy is one of the factors that affect the effectiveness of ICT based programmes and schemes. It has resulted in to increase in the number of intermediaries who trap the people for financial gain by helping them in government projects or programmes. So, it has added loophole rather than the effective implementation of Information and Communication Technology-based programmes or projects.
Lack of Technical Proficiency: The lack of enough skilled personnel in digital technology is one of the challenges for the effective implementation of ICT based programmes or projects. The government official manpower who implement such projects lacks enough proficiency to handle the technical issue that arises. So, a government official must have enough skills to manage or correct the issue. For Instance, government authorities overseeing E-passport Seva must know how to solve problems faced by users.
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: ICT equipment are subjected to errors, which reduces their reliability and effectiveness in implementing programs. The issues related to identity mismatch and denial of services to beneficiaries are the vital challenges for the effective modes of governance. For Example, Cases where senior citizens have been denied ration via PDS shops due to fingerprints mismatch.
Infrastructure: The lack of proper infrastructure is the challenge for the effective implementation of the Information and Communication Technology-based programmes or projects. The deficiency of necessary infrastructure such as broadband connectivity, continuous electricity supply, mobile coverage to support the ICT based projects has made the government policies or schemes elusive rather than making them inclusive. It has resulted in problems for people to access effective modes of governance.
Delayed Upgrading Technology: Maintenance and upgrading of ICT equipment are slow and delayed. This leads to ineffective implementation of schemes and programs.
Language Barrier: The Information and Communication Technology-based programmes or projects are often implemented or come into the domain of common people in the language of English. It creates challenges because projects or programmes become intangible to the common people. Due to some changes or efforts of the central government, Hindi is being used to some extent in the ICT based projects or programmes. But another regional language has not come into the realm of Information and Communication platforms. Even, where they are being used, there are full of technical jargons which are non-comprehensive. This has made modes of governance more elusive.
Cost of Data: In India, Cost of data in relative terms is high. But government banking of JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) is promoting governance through smartphones. This financial burden has made people to keep away from using the ICT platforms.
Privacy Concerns- Privacy concerns and online threats such as unlawful hacking and ransomware are the challenges which bar effective implementation of ICT based programmes or projects.
Lack of Extensive Field trials: New technologies implemented without conducting proper field trials made a flaw in the implementation of ICT based projects and Programmes. This will result in the technology not being fruitful enough while testing in varying conditions. Ex: A new government website may have the ability to handle only a certain number of active users. If extensive trials are not conducted, it may collapse during overload.
Non-inclusive Nature of Technology used: When ICT technologies are non-inclusive in nature for certain sections of people, so it creates some difficulties to understand. This needs simplification of the process and makes it easy to handle. For example, problems faced by illiterate persons differently-abled, Senior citizens, due to the complex design of ICT based solutions.
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.
Measures for Effective Implementation
Steps should be taken towards making people digitally literate through programs and schemes of the government. The government can initiate it through mandating digital education in the school curriculum and co-curricular activities. By educating the children to access these platforms, they can serve as agents of change to adopt ICT platforms. One such example is IT Club ‘e-Kidz’ formed by students of the Government Upper Primary School at Koothattukulam in Kerala.
Use of Regional language-
Make ICT services available in all regional languages. This will help to enhance the effectiveness of the implementation of ICT based programmes or projects. So, the government of India must integrate regional languages into ICT platforms to ensure the ease of use by population across the country.
Creating suitable infrastructure:
Suitable infrastructure must be created for ICT projects. Increasing the number of Common Services Centres and addressing the connectivity issues should be the first priority.
Increasing Investment in Human Capital Formation:
The government must explore providing free internet packages to enable people to access ICT platforms. The government must develop a model like basic Facebook wherein people would be able to access the government portals without internet charges. Even, the government could offset the costs through Universal Service Obligation Funds.
Making the internet accessible to all through the National Optical Fibre Network to ensure seamless broadband connectivity.
Inclusive Nature of Government Websites:
When the government websites are made user friendly, it will definitely promote the effective modes of governance. It means when the user interface of sites is simple, it can easily be understood by a common person. Through this technology would be inclusive in nature for the various sections of society.
Plugging the Digital Divide:
The plugging digital divide is an effective measure for the good modes of governance. There are many people across the country, who are not in the condition to buy smartphones or other electronic devices. So, due consideration must be given to address the issues of availability, affordability and accessibility while developing the ICT governance platforms.
Government Efforts to Address These Factors:
The government has started programmes like the National Digital Literacy Mission to address these factors. The main motive is to educate people with low digital literacy.
Making rural population familiar with the use of computer and basic functions through various schemes. The government has started PMGDISHA to enhance the effectiveness of projects or programmes.
Projects like Bharat Net Project, Digital India, NeGP has been initiated by the government to enhance the connectivity across the remotest region.
The role of improving Information and Communication Technologies has proved to be a boon with its inherent advantages such as increased efficiency, transparency, and flexibility in operations. 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.
But their implementation also suffers due to certain shortcomings at the preparation level. In order to succeed the government need the proper implementation that turns the technology into a boon rather than a bane.
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