Kurukshetra Magazine

December 2022 Kurukshetra Magazine Issue: e-Governance

Kurukshetra Magazine is a vital source of study material for the UPSC IAS exam. It is a monthly magazine that gives information about important government schemes and programmes in various sectors. Kurukshetra is an authentic source of information for the UPSC Exam. Here, we provide the Gist of Kurukshetra, exclusively for the IAS Exam.

Chapter 1: Bridging the Digital Divide

Background Details

  • One of the most effective tools for advancement and social change in today’s world is technology.
  • E-Governance is a process through which public services are made available and accessible to the common citizen through common service delivery outlets. It is ICT-friendly and establishes connections between providers and users of government services.
  • It increases the transparency, efficiency, and reliability of all operational processes.

Digital inequality

  • Digital inequality is referred to as differential levels of access to digital resources. It is a serious problem in contemporary society.
  • All forms of digital inequality are together called digital disparity.
  • Bridging the digital gap requires technological, infrastructure, and socio-economic solutions addressing accessibility, affordability, and digital literacy.

Achieving affordable and inclusive internet for all

The following parameters are significant in achieving affordable and inclusive internet for all:

  • Infrastructure is crucial for promoting innovation and enhancing development.
  • Pricing can have a major impact on the accessibility of the internet.
  • Language and Technical illiteracy are barriers to accessibility to the internet, especially for women and rural people.
  • Information regarding accessibility is crucial for designing effective policies.

Digital India Programme

The government of India is implementing the Digital India programme to transform India into a knowledge-based society and economy by ensuring digital access, digital inclusion, and empowerment. Digital India has dramatically reduced the distance between the government and citizens. It is an umbrella programme covering multiple projects/schemes of various departments/ministries. Some of the significant initiatives are:

  • E-Kranti: It aims to revolutionize electronic service delivery.
  • Common Service Centre (CSC): CSCs provide more than 400 digital services to rural citizens through village-level entrepreneurs.
  • Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG): It is a mobile-based service providing accessibility to approximately 22,000 bill payment services and over 1570 government services.
  • e-District Mission Mode Project (MMP): It benefits citizens by delivering various e-services like certificates (birth, death, caste, income, etc.), consumer services, electoral services, etc.
  • Digilocker: It provides paperless availability of public documents.
  • Unified Payment Interface (UPI): It is the leading digital payment platform in the world integrated with over 330 banks.
  • Co-WIN: It is an open platform for scheduling and management of Covid-19 vaccination.
  • My–Gov: lt is a citizen engagement platform that is developed to facilitate participatory governance.
  • Meri-Pehchan: It is a single sign-on platform to provide citizens with ease of access to the government portal.
  • Direct Benefit Transfer: 315 schemes across 53 ministries are offering Aadhar-enabled digital benefit transfer and so far approximately 25 lakh crores have been disbursed through it.
  • Diksha: It is a national-level educational platform for both students and teachers.

Government initiative in the direction of Data Governance

  1. OPEN GOVERNMENT DATA: It is a platform to facilitate data exchange and encourage innovation with regard to non-personal data.
  2. API SETU: It is a platform to make data interchange easier across systems.

Way Ahead

  • Local governments should be given special emphasis with regard to digital services as they are the closest to the citizens.
  • Government should ensure better internet connectivity along with digital infrastructure, especially in rural areas of the country.
  • E-government through local language is highly beneficial for a linguistically diverse country like India.
  • It is also essential to improve and upgrade existing effective models on a timely basis.
  • To prevent the hazards of new and greater digital divides, scientific information, technology, and know-how produced by the digital era must be carefully managed.
  • Government and private sector should participate in research and development. They should jointly solve the broadband connectivity gap.

Conclusion

A paradigm shift in strategic thinking, rules, and regulation is required for the digital revolution. While e-government focuses on creating online services, the future will revolve around how digital government changes governance by harnessing societal creativity and resilience.

Chapter 2: Technology Integration for Quality Education

Background Details

  • According to UNESCO, “E-governance is the public sector’s use of ICT with the aim of improving information and service delivery, encouraging citizen participation in the decision-making process and making government more accountable, transparent and effective.”
  • It further states that E-governance is a wider concept than e-Government, as it can bring a change in the way citizens relate to the Government ecosystem.
  • The objective of e-governance is to engage, enable and empower the citizen.
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pace of integration of technology in the teaching and learning process has increased exponentially.
  • National Education Policy 2020 has also given utmost importance to digital education for improving teaching-learning-evaluation processes, enhancing educational access, and streamlining educational planning, management, administration, etc.

Interventions in the Governance of education:

Various governance-related interventions are adopted by the Government for improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of the schooling system. Some of these measures include:

  • UDISE+: In 2012-13, the Ministry of Education initiated the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE). UDISE+ is an upgraded version of it, which is collecting data since 2018-19. It provides robust, real-time, and credible income for effective evaluation and evidence-based interventions in the school education system.
  • Performance Grading Index (PGI): It is a tool for evaluating the status of school education and catalyzing transformational change in States/UTs on the basis of performance across several indicators. It grades all states and Union Territories on the basis of 77 indicators and helps in identifying gaps and designing appropriate interventions to address them.
  • Online survey platform for National Curriculum Framework (NCF): It is being prepared by NCERT to make education more experiential, holistic, inquiry-based, discovery-oriented, learner-centric, and enjoyable.
  • NDEAR (National Digital Education Architecture) and Vidya Samiksha Kendra: The central idea of NDEAR is to facilitate achieving the goals set by NEP 2020, through a digital infrastructure for innovations in the education ecosystem, ensuring autonomy and participation of all the relevant stakeholders. Vidya Sameeksha Kendra has been established at the national level to leverage data and technology to bring a big leap in learning outcomes.
  • PRABANDH (Project Appraisal, Budgeting Achievements, and Data Handling): It was launched in 2020 under the ambit of Samagra Shiksha to enhance the efficiency and management of centrally sponsored integrated schemes.

Government Initiatives for improving the quality of education

  • PM e-Vidya: It is a comprehensive initiative that ensures access to digital education through a multi-modal approach.
    • The Ministry of Education (MoE) platform DIKSHA has been declared as a ‘One Nation, One Digital Platform’ which can be accessed by learners and teachers across the country. It presently supports 30 languages.
    • DIKSHA hosts nearly 6,500 textbooks and over 3.01 lakh digital content including audio-visual content, interactive courses, practice material, etc.
    • For children with special needs, nearly 2970 Indian Sign language-based content, Mukta Vidya Vani (an audio streaming podcast) and Radio Vahini with 24×7 broadcast and talking books for learners with blindness and low vision have also been prepared.
    • Twelve PM eVidya channels for each class deliver class-wise content for each class 24×7.
  • NISHTHA (National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement): It is an integrated training programme that aims at the holistic development of teachers.

Initiatives announced in the Budget 2022-23

To expand the scale and scope of digital education and to ensure equity among students considering the diversity, device penetration, and complexity of India, the government has adopted several measures:

  • To overcome pandemic-induced learning gaps and build a resilient mechanism of education delivery, 200 TV channels would be launched.
  • Nearly 750 virtual labs for science and mathematics and 75 skilling e-labs would be launched during 2022-23 for providing a quality practical and critical-thinking ecosystem.
  • High-Quality e-content in all spoken languages will be developed for delivery via the internet, mobile phones and radio through Digital Teachers.

Conclusion

  • Technology will play a crucial role in developing lifelong learners that have an innate curiosity, drive to explore, and are motivated in the pursuit of knowledge.
  • An affordable, equitable, inclusive, and integrated digital ecosystem is required to facilitate and sustain lifelong learning.

Chapter 3: Mobile Governance

Introduction

  • M-governance is the E-governance delivered through mobile devices, particularly smartphones. India can successfully implement m-governance due to the phenomenal growth of the nationwide mobile ecosystem.
  • M-governance is a subset of E-governance and has emerged as an effective way to reach out to every doorstep, thereby bridging the gap between the government and citizens.
  • Internet-connected mobile devices can deal with challenges like low penetration of personal computers, internet connectivity, power supply challenges, and a large rural population.

Background Details

  • India has nearly 1.17 billion telecom connections (as on August 2022). Nearly 98% of these were mobile connections and an estimated 65 percent of these devices were smartphones.
  • India has a teledensity of more than 85 percent and over 82.5 crore internet subscribers.
  • The median speed of mobile devices in India is 13.5 megabits per second (Mbps).
  • Advantages of M-Governance:
    • Cost efficiency
    • Modernization of involved entity/organization
    • Convenience and flexibility
    • Easy interaction and better service to the citizen
    • Enhanced accessibility
  • The core objective of m-governance is to provide personalized and localized service/information anywhere and anytime through various types of wireless and mobile technologies.

Figure: M-Governance models

M Governance models

Fintech Revolution and M-Governance

  • India has made huge strides in the use of mobile technology in almost all sectors like agriculture, health care, financial services, retail trading, manufacturing, transportation, and services.
  • One of the most successful examples of the fintech revolution is the Unified Payment Interface (UPI). It is an instant real-time payment system developed by the National Payments Corporation of India.
  • Many IT companies have offered customized services through mobile devices which have registered tremendous success. Some of the popular examples are Paytm, Phonepe, Uber, Bajaj Finserv, etc.

Existing Challenges

  • There is a large number of independently working applications and services which makes it difficult for a citizen with a limited understanding of technology.
  • Other challenges include limited awareness and a lack of necessary skills among the citizens to access the services available. This implies that there is a low level of digital literacy.
  • Smartphones are still a luxury for many Indians.
  • Making the entire M-Governance model linguistically inclusive and accessible to ensure maximum impact is one of the largest challenges in a linguistically diverse country such as India.

Chapter 4: e-Governance in Health Service Delivery

Introduction

  • The government of India has launched several health-related online services. For example:
    • National Health Portal: It is a single point of access to health-related information for citizens.
    • e-Hospital Management System: It tracks the delivery of patient care and diagnostic services.
    • Mera Aspataal initiative: It captures patients’ feedback for services availed by them.
  • Several mobile applications have also been launched like the Kilkari app, through which the government delivers messages pertaining to pregnancy and child care between the second trimester of the pregnancy till the child’s first birthday.

Government’s Initiative

  • Various platforms have been launched for tracking service delivery.
    • Nikshay Platform: For tracking TB patients.
    • Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centre Portal: For monitoring the delivery of comprehensive primary healthcare services through Health and Wellness centres across the country.
  • National Health Policy 2017 ushered in a new era of technology-enabled healthcare services that incorporates e-health, m-health, Internet of Things (IoT), etc.
  • The launch of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) was also announced on the 74th Independence day that aims to create a mechanism to:
    • Process digital health data and facilitate its seamless exchange
    • Develop registries of public and private facilities, health service providers, laboratories, pharmacies, etc.
    • Support clinical decision-making
    • Offer services like telemedicine

Challenges with India’s healthcare system

  • India’s healthcare system is an information-intensive sector that has remained largely impermeable to digital technology for a long time.
  • Though considerable efforts have been made to leverage technology, there is inadequate interaction between them that leads to disjoint clusters of health information.
  • Fragmented information about patient records restricts interoperability.
    • To tackle this issue NDHM has proposed a single health id and profile for every citizen.
  • There are issues like duplication and inconsistency of data.
  • An inadequate number of doctors and healthcare staff is another major challenge in India. Moreover, the quality and productivity of services is also an area of concern.
  • The low presence of doctors is more visible in rural and remote areas of the country.

Significance of Technology in Healthcare

  • A single dedicated portal for each citizen can minimize the need for repeat investigations and ensure informed decision-making by doctors.
  • It can enable population-level data analytics in identifying emerging diseases and treatments.
  • It can also facilitate geographical, demographical, and risk factor-based monitoring of health, followed by the design of targeted interventions. It could also give a head start in identifying people with comorbidities and implementing preventive health interventions expeditiously.
  • An effective and efficient lT infrastructure can ensure data consistency across systems, eliminate duplication and minimize the reporting burden.
  • It will also benefit the researchers in the evaluation of disease and its treatment.
  • Digital health is a critical enabler for universal health coverage.
  • It is estimated that in the coming decade, an incremental economic value of over USD 200 Billion can be unlocked for the health sector through rigorous and effective implementation of the NDHM.
  • Technology can improve operational efficiency by strengthening supply chain performance and enabling the skilling of health professionals.
  • The government’s teleconsultation services like e-Sanjeevani have enabled diagnosis, treatment, and management of the disease.
  • Another trend being observed on account of digitization is online training and education of medical professionals.

Conclusion

It is clear that India is moving towards the digital transformation of healthcare and looking at a future where connected care becomes the norm. The patients would no longer be constrained by geography due to the roll-out of the latest technologies.

Chapter 5: Citizen Participation and Rural Well-being

Introduction

  • The expansion of citizens’ choices and capabilities is the cornerstone of governance and a prerequisite for a nation’s growth and inclusive development.
  • It is important to focus on sustainable governance of rural areas as it comprises approximately 70 percent of the Indian population and contributes nearly 50 percent to the national income. In this regard, the government of India is taking several measures.

e-Governance and Rural Economy

  • In the era of transforming governance landscape and digitalization, the Government of India implemented National e-Governance Plan in 2006. It was particularly formulated for rural areas by providing services like birth and death certificates, land registration, employment opportunities, farming and veterinary services, education, etc.
  • Special focus is also given to capturing data about the people below the poverty line.
  • Some initiatives that are contributing to the e-Governance model are e-Panchayat, e-Gram, e-Choupal, e-Shakti, Bhoomi, Gyandoot, e-NAM, etc.
  • An innovative programme, MyGov was also launched to ensure citizens’ participation in the decision-making process.
  • However, despite several efforts, the results are not up to the mark and require more effort.

Dimensions of Rural e-Governance

Dimensions of Rural e Governance

Image source: National Informatics Centre

Citizens’ Participation and Governance

  • Citizen as a Customer: As a consumer of public service, citizen participation and their feedback are crucial in designing policies and ensuring quality service delivery at an affordable cost.
  • Citizen as an Owner: In a democracy, citizens are the real owners of public service and thus their involvement is very important.
  • Citizen as a co-producer: Citizens are expected to act as partners in governance.
  • Citizens as quality evaluators: Citizens can also evaluate the quality of services and their effectiveness.

Benefits of Citizen Participation

  • Citizen participation helps in the smooth formulation and implementation of public policies.
  • It helps in enhancing transparency, accountability, and responsibility. It also enhances the efficiency and efficacy of government projects.
  • It develops a sense of ownership and belongingness, thereby engaging the public.
  • Participation and contribution of various stakeholders reduce conflicts and confusion and make it more coherent.
  • It reduces political will-based e-governance and brings more inclusiveness and positive outcomes.
  • It helps in improving the political positioning of marginalized and vulnerable groups.
  • It helps in developing sustainable and outcome-focused initiatives.
  • It helps in community empowerment, leading to better awareness and superior monitoring.

Chapter 6: New Age Technology

Introduction

  • Technology has been instrumental in India’s digital journey. There is a natural complementarity between good governance and technology.
  • The second administrative reforms commission has laid emphasis on good governance that aims to provide an environment in which all citizens irrespective of class, caste, and gender can develop to their full potential.
  • Advantages of technology in governance:
    • It brings transparency.
    • It minimizes the interface between government and citizens.
    • It is unbiased.
    • Can accelerate service delivery.
    • Fixes accountability.
    • Improves interaction with business and industry.
    • Information accessibility empowers citizens.
    • Efficient management.

e-Kranti

  • The e-Kranti programme was approved by the government in 2015. The vision of e-Kranti is “Transforming e-governance for Transforming governance”.
  • The portfolio of the Mission Mode Project has increased from 31 to 44 covering several social sector projects like Women and Child Development, Financial inclusion, Urban Governance, etc. Thrust areas of e-Kranti outlined in Digital India are:
    • Technology for Education: All schools will be connected to Broadband and free WiFi will be provided for all secondary and higher schools. A programme on digital literacy will also be taken up at the National level.
    • Technology for Farmers: This would ensure real-time information and pricing along with cash and relief payments.
    • Technology for Security: Mobile-based emergency and disaster-related services would be provided on a real-time basis in order to minimize loss of life and property.
    • Technology for Financial Inclusion: Financial inclusion shall be strengthened using technologies like mobile banking, micro ATMs, etc.
    • Technology for Justice: Criminal justice system will be bolstered with technology like e-courts, e-Police, e-prosecution, etc.
    • Technology for Security: National Cyber Security Coordination Centre would be established to ensure a safe and secure cyber-space in the country.
    • Technology for Planning: National GIS Mission Mode Project would be implemented to provide GIS-based decision-making for project planning, conceptualization, design, and development.

New Age Analytics, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence in E-Governance

  • Several new dashboards have been developed across departments like the Champions of Change Dashboard which is powered by analytics and real-time data.
  • Another G2C innovation in the education sector is a career platform that provides training in in-demand technologies and areas. This platform is powered using Artificial Intelligence.
  • The government of Andhra Pradesh in collaboration with Microsoft has deployed a combination of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to predict possible drop-outs in school and provide immediate interventions through counselling and support.
  • Blockchain technology has been deployed in Tamil Nadu and Telangana for the digitization of land records.

Conclusion

With the implementation of high-speed and low latency 5G facilities, AR/VR, real-time recognition systems, and IoT there would be transformative implications on healthcare, education, governance, etc. However, there is also a need to put proper governing principles for technologies ensuring that they are equitable, accessible, and fair.

Chapter 7: E-Governance in Tourism

Details

  • E-governance in the aviation sector holds the key to the improvement of the tourism sector in India.
  • In the year 2021, the Ministry of Civil Aviation launched e-Governance for Civil Aviation (e-GCA), with an aim of bringing about ease of doing business, enhancing transparency and automation of the processes as well as functions of the civil aviation regulator in India that is DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation).

Supportive Infrastructure

  • Supportive Infrastructure covers all other related activities like transport platforms (road, railway, airport) and utility services.
  • FASTag initiative (e-governance measure) was launched by the Government of India in 2016 to reduce traffic at toll booths, enhance time efficiency and increase digital transactions.
  • In 1999, the Ministry of Railway launched a vertical titled Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (lRCTC) that aimed at providing ICT-based services like ticket booking.

Conclusion

Initiatives of e-governance are acting as catalysts for the growth of the tourism sector. Overall conditions of tourist destinations are getting improved by ICT interventions like Aadhar, FASTag, IRCTC, etc. The electronic authorization programme and Passport Seva Programme have created a significant improvement in travel documentation.

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