Impact of Information Technology on E Governance

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[pic] Project Report on Gyandoot Vs E-Mitra Submitted to Prof. Kavitha Ranganathan Prof. Subhash Bhatnagar In partial requirements of the fulfillments of the course Digital Inclusion for Development Chetan Jajoria|Rohit Raj|Suresh K Introduction Many governments all over the world are today embarking on an ambitious e-governance projects aimed at bridging the digital divide between the rich and poor as well as the urban and rural citizens. However a closer look at the statistics at this stage would give us the real picture. According to a World Bank estimate about 85% of the e-governance projects across the developing countries have failed to achieve the desired result either totally or partially. The problem is also compounded by the lack of clear criteria for evaluating the success of such projects. There is little doubt that e-governance increases the efficiency and productivity of government services, thereby reducing the costs involved. However the problem lies in the conceptualization of the project. Any e-governance project should involve the people, process and technology in the said order. However the projects tend to veer of their objectives when they unduly stress on the technology and tend to ignore the people or when they set their priorities in the reverse order. Technology plays a role albeit a very minor one in determining the success of such e-governance projects. Projects should be built on needs of the citizens as the core with processes and technology acting as the supplemental factors. Only the there will significant involvement from the citizens. The other reasons for failure of the e-governance projects could be attributed to tardy implementation, non-consideration of opportunity costs, sustainability, project management skills, short-term and long-term tradeoffs. In this report evaluation of two such e-governance projects from India, Gyandoot of Madhya Pradesh and e-Mitra of Rajasthan have been done. E-Mitra is being touted as the most successful e-governance project in the country. While Gyandoot started off well initially today it is on the verge cessation of its existence. Gyandoot Gyandoot is a rural intranet project in the poor tribal district of Dhar in Madhya Pradesh initiated by the state government of MP with the objective of providing better access to government information and services. The project was conceptualized in January 2000 and became operational within a record two months. Under this scheme computer kiosks also referred to as soochanalayas were set up in each of the 20 village centers initially and were wired through intranet. The latest data shows 40 kiosks to be operational catering to about half million population in 550 villages with each kiosk serving a 5km radius surrounding it. Each kiosk, manned by a trained operator, was set up to serve a population of about 20000-30000 villagers. The entrepreneurs also referred to as soochaks were the local youths who ran the cyber-cafes cum-cyber offices and were chosen by the local community. The project was conceptualized on the basis of people, content, services and server. Goals and Objectives (Roger Harris and Rajesh Rajora. UNDP-APDIP ICT4D Series. A Study of Rural Development Projects in India) • To ensure equal access to emerging technologies for the marginalized society • To create an economically and financially viable, replicable model to take IT to the masses • To promote grass-root entrepreneurial model as well as self employment • To ensure quicker response to the needs of the citizens • To ensure increased community participation in the governance and local affairs through the effective use of IT Services provided by the kiosks After holding discussions with the villagers it was decided that all the content would be in the local language. This was a good move since they had taken the users into consideration before beginning with the project, which in a way assessed their needs and capabilities. Based on this interaction, it was decided that the software which would be developed was to be user friendly and unsophisticated. The operation began with 5 services but within a few months was expanded to cover 22 services which included rates of agriculture produce, land records, Hindi e-mail, rural matrimonial services, application for caste/income certificates, educational, health services, etc. The rates for the services ranged from $ 0. 0 (Rs 4) for ‘ask-an-expert’ service to $ 0. 50 (Rs 20) for matrimonial services. The operator was free to offer services other than those mentioned to increase his revenue. The main services which aimed to bring about transparency and efficiency in the government processes and services include: • Land records: The farmers needed land records to avail a loan, the application for which was made available online and farmers had to just go and collect the documents once their application was processed. • Beneficiary lists: The government provides special facilities to disadvantaged people under various schemes. The list of beneficiaries is made available online so that the villagers can verify whether they have been enlisted or not rather than they going to the government offices. This would in a way decrease the influence the government officials hold over the official information. • Under this initiative registration of grievances against the public servants has been made possible through the kiosks which previously had to be done only at the district headquarters which involved sufficient transportation costs as well as uncertainty over the availability of the concerned complaint-receiving official. The communication which was real-time now has shifted to asynchronous communication thereby increasing the chances of making ones complaint heard. Other than ensuring transparency in government services, it also provided access to information regarding the market prices of the agricultural goods which otherwise would have cost the farmer $0. 50 for traveling to the market as well as loss of income for that duration. Institutional Arrangements and Business model The district council owns the network while it is responsibility of the village councils to manage the kiosks. A project manager who is an IT professional expert along with the help of four assistants maintains the database at the district council. The soochak or the local entrepreneur, selected by the village community runs the kiosk (soochanalaya) on a commercial basis with initial one year contract with the village council. Various government agencies provided the content for databases and logistics support. There are two models which are followed in setting up of a soochanalaya (Centre for E-Governance, IIM Ahmedabad). They are as follows: 1. Panchayat model: The village panchayat makes all investment in the necessary infrastructure. The soochak does not receive any monetary compensation and bears all operational costs on services such as telephone, etc along with a 10 percent commission to the jila panchayat for providing intranet services. The village council takes care of the electricity expenses. 2. Entrepreneurial model: The soochak makes all the investment in the necessary infrastructure as well as pay a fee of Rs. 5000 to the Gramdoot Samithi annually. He bears all the all the related costs as well. Technology The servers, computers and other devices which were installed included: • The central hardware at headquarters ? server with a 450 MHz Pentium III processor ? 128 MB RAM ? 40 GB disk drive ? 2 MB graphics card ? 5" monitor and 48x CD-ROM. • Client kiosks ? 433 MHz Celeron processor ? 32 MB RAM ? 4. 3 GB disk drive plus floppy ? 4 MB graphics card, 14" monitor, and 48x CD-ROM ? dot-matrix printer and a UPS with five hour backup capacity • Five 56kbps modems were installed at the district headquarters and one each on the client side for telecommunication purposes which was a combination of oth dial-up and WLL (wireless in local loop) connections The operator at the kiosk operated the system on behalf of the customer since most of the customers lacked the necessary sophistication to operate on their own inspite of the equipments being made user friendly. Most importantly, all the applications were web browser based. Impact Costs and benefits The initial network set up costs was about $50000 with the later expansion involving private parties for the financing. Except a few occasional benefits on the transparency front the Gyandoot project has not delivered the results as intended when the project was conceptualized (Alok Kumar Sanjay and Vivek Gupta). It has helped to reduce the corruption and harassment of the marginalized sections to a certain extent due to reducing the chances of interface between the people and the government officials. The amount spent on transportation as well as the loss on that day’s income due to a trip to the district headquarters for official work has been reduced to a limited extent. For a few services, the response has become quicker. The list of beneficiaries of the government schemes which was made publicly available helped the people to identify missing names from the list and brought transparency into the system. Though the project started of well initially but could not sustain due to absence of automation of back end support and internal operations which meant that the transactions were still being processed manually at the government offices. [pic] Source: Inkroma e-Gov (http://www. egovernance. inkroma. com/Building%20the%20foundation%20Blocks%20Article. pdf ) In the above figure only processes numbered 1, 2, 8 and 9 are online but the rest of the processes are manually operations at the backend exposing the whole system to time lag and corruption which meant that the objective of project Gyandoot was not being met. Also since the internal processes were not automated, the load within the internal system increased manifold times as manual operations were not as efficient as the automated ones made all worse by the introduction of multiple client input points. There was a clear efficiency lag between the frontend and the backend operations. On the corruption front, the villagers felt that opportunities still existed for government officials to extract bribe from them (AK Sanjay and Vivek Gupta). Since the land records obtained or printed in the kiosks did not have an authorized signature, the villagers still had to travel to the government office atleast once to get an authorized signature without which the banks did not identify the documents as authentic. Although this project has reduced the number of such travels to the government office, its objective of disintermediation is still elusive giving rise to corruption. Although it was partially successful in reducing the trips, there was nothing to prevent the backend officials to increase the amount of bribe they seek to process their applications. In the case of public grievances, the system appeared to be functioning merely as a mechanism for appointment –fixing and grievances recording since in most of the cases the complainant had to appear in person. In about 90% of the cases, the complainants had responded that their grievances were not resolved to satisfaction. Infrastructure A significant number of kiosks do not operate as planned. About one-third of the kiosks appeared to be closed always, while some others appeared to be operating for only a few hours in many days. There are list of causes for this situation. One of the main reasons is frequent power cuts and recurring telecommunication problems which poses severe connectivity problems. The UPS batteries which have been provided have a charge up time of about 4-8 hours but in some of the areas the electricity supply is only for 1-2 hours in the entire day. The hardware capacity has been another limiting factor preventing the kiosks to be functioning to their full potential as most of the kiosks try to function to their full capacity during the time when electricity is on. This has led to reduced revenues to the kiosks operators which in turn have reduced their commitment to run the kiosk. Adding to this vicious cycle is the accusation that the Gyandoot services on agricultural rates are unreliable and about one-quarter of them reported losses on their produce due to the out-of-date information provided by the Gyandoot services. This has led to spread of the negative message about the Gyandoot and the usage levels have been reduced to just one user per 2-3 days. In some cases, the villagers have started suspecting the kiosk owners of voluntarily withholding information to seek bribes which in a way have affected their reputation and business. The transfer of senior staff who initiated the project, brought in a set of incumbents who were disinclined to show commitment to a project which they hadn’t initiated. In such projects that aim to bring about radical changes, the commitment of senior team plays a large part and hence it is prudent to involve the initiating team as long as possible. Financial sustainability While the breakeven point as calculated was about $100 per year when the project was conceptualized, the average income of the kiosk was a mere $35 per year making the kiosk highly unprofitable and in turn forcing the operators to choose other avenues to earn their livelihood. Demand for Gyandoot Services According to the study done by CEG, IIM Ahmedabad, the average demand has been found to be about 1-4 users per day (only the actual number of days on which the outlet opened is considered here) with a peak of about 18-20 users per day during the time announcements of examination results. Over a period of two years, the 18 kiosks studied serviced an average of 0. 62 users per day (the number of working days for which the outlets were supposed to be working was assumed to be 250) which was an indication of very poor response to the services by the villagers. Transfer of project champion The officials who were involved in the initiation of the project were transferred within one year of start of the functioning of the project. This could be one of the reasons for its failure as the subsequent officials couldn’t have been more committed in making the backend operations as efficient as the frontend. Revenues from Gyandoot The 18 kiosks studied had earned Rs. 65200 over a period of two years taking the average to about Rs 150 per month per kiosk which is highly unsustainable. Conclusion It is necessary to automate the backend operations as well to make the system completely efficient without any bottlenecks and opportunity for the officials to extract bribe. A binding organization should be established which controls the various service providers. The Gyandoot Samiti didn’t have the authority to question the backend service providers in this case. The project champions should be allowed to function; at least till the project clears all teething problems and becomes sustainable. e-Mitra It is an initiative by Government of Rajasthan to provide government services to residents of Rajasthan in a cost effective manner. -Mitra is a combination of two earlier projects of similar kind started by the state government. Those two projects were LokMitra & JanMitra, which were aiming at two different segment of the society. LokMitra was started by the government to deliver services which can be of some relevance to urban population of Rajasthan. It was first started in Jaipur, Bikaner & Udaipur. JanMitra was the rural version of LokMitra. The difference between the two projects was the business model followed by the government. In JanMitra, government followed PPP (Public Private Partnership) model and engaged people to open kiosks (service center) whereas in LokMitra, everything is managed and maintained by the government. LokMitra As stated earlier LokMitra was a government service delivery system designed and implemented for urban population of Rajasthan. The services which ware offered by it included: ( Source: http://www. emitra. gov. in/eMitra/egovConstruction. jsp) • Payment of electricity bills • Payment of water bills of PHED • Online RSRTC bus ticketing of RSRTC • Issue of of Births & Death certificates Payment of various dues/fee of Jaipur Municipal corporation • Payment of various dues/fee of Jaipur Development Authority • Payment of various dues/fee of Land & Building Tax Dept • Payment of various dues/fee of Rajasthan Housing Board • Payment of Land Line & CellOne bills (BSNL) The project was launched in March 2002, and initially had 9 centers in Jaipur. The project was a success and was replicated in Bikaner and Udaipur. The success of the project could be estimated by the revenue which got collected in the span of 3 years, which was around Rs. 261 Crores and served the population of 1. 2 Million. Project was designed keeping in mind the requirements of urban population. It was mainly used for utility bill payment and most of the payments were made on the real time basis. The project was financially viable also as none of the services being offered was free. JanMitra As stated earlier JanMitra was a government service delivery system designed and implemented for rural population of Rajasthan. The services which ware offered by it included: (source: http://www. emitra. gov. in/eMitra/egovConstruction. jsp) • Public grievance • Online submission of application forms • Access to Land & Revenue Records (ROR) Access to Government information This project was also launched in March 2002. The main objective of the project was to provide relevant information to the rural population. These are the information which are mainly related to land records. Initially it was launched rural areas in and around Jaipur and Jhalawar district. As the project was based on the PPP model, government in turn provided employment to around 350 youth in those areas. None of the services or information provided through these centers was free, so the project was financially viable. In the period of 3 years, JanMitra kiosks served around half a illion citizens living in rural areas. After the success of LokMitra & JanMitra, Rajasthan government thought of building a stronger system. Government picked up the best features of the two projects (LokMitra & JanMitra) and created a single platform named “e-Mitra” with over 60 government services and added some private services later. This initiative gave employment to about 6000 unemployed and educated youth in different areas. Goals and Objectives The initiative was started to reduce the time and money spend by the citizens in rural areas in retrieving information from government repository. On the other hand for urban citizen their utility bill payments and other government related payments were important and time consuming. With the help of e-Mitra, anybody can access information from government repository and can pay their utility bills. It was a single window clearance system and is easily accessible to everybody. Another aspect which made e-Mitra a favorite spot was its timing; earlier citizens had to take leave to pay utility bills from their offices but with the convenient timing of 8 A. M. to 8 P. M. , citizen preferred e-Mitra kiosk over other government offices. Here they can make payments as per their convenience i. e. by cash, cheque, DD and also by using credit cards. Business Model This model was based on PPP (Public Private Partnership) model, in which front office which consists of a facility i. e. a room, computer, internet connection was owned and operated by local service provider whereas back office infrastructure like hardware, database server, routers are owned by government but the application software part was managed and maintained by the technology partner Impact Kiosk owner is responsible of creating a database at his end and is able to carry out this operation in 4 different modes i. e. Off Line, Semi Offline, Semi Offline Delayed and Online. These are the modes used for different kind of services which are being offered. Services like utility bill payments are online whereas services related to land records retrieval from district office can be classified into semi offline due to the form filled and sent to the district office. The most important move by the government is that they provided multi lingual application form, which made the process more transparent. Citizens have confidence about the service they are seeking and the form & details they are filling up. By this they gain some knowledge about which department to contact for which service which is helpful if they would be using different kiosk in the future. This gives a sense of confidence and comfort level to citizens particularly in rural areas. In 2006 e-Mitra had 525 kiosks in 31 out of 32 districts of Rajasthan. These were being operated with the help of six private local service providers. Approximately 6. 0 lakh citizens were being served in a month and total Government revenue generation was around Rs 72 crore per month. These figures clearly show the financial sustainability of e-Mitra which is must for its existence in long run. Infrastructure [pic] Source: http://indiagovernance. gov. in/presentations/E-Mitra. pps The above is the network design established for the e-Mitra. In this the kiosks of local service providers are connected to government administration via a district window. Various district level and state level databases are connected internally and interfaced through user departments. Players involved in the entire network are user departments, District administration, District society, Main center, Sub-centers and kiosks. User Departments provide back end computerization for the services and facilities offered by the kiosks whereas district administration does the vigilance control of all the departments involve in the process, they also provide back-up infrastructure. District Society manages the relationship with the local service providers or kiosks owners. Main center receives all the applications, data and communication from the district. Kiosks are considered to be the service delivery points. Financial sustainability As stated earlier none of the services are being provided free to make the model financially sustainable. Different tariff structures are followed for different services. The rates mentioned below are of year 2005 (Source: http://indiagovernance. gov. in/presentations/E-Mitra. pps) • Utility Bills – Telephone, Mobile (BSNL) – Rs. 5 per bill • Electricity, Water - Rs. 3. 95 per bill • Public Grievances Redressal and Public Information Services (19 departments) - Rs. per transaction • Online Applications (52 Services) - Rs. 9 per application Critical Success Factors of e-Mitra For successful implementation of an e-governance project based on ICT it is necessary to understand the demands of citizens rather than putting emphasis on connectivity through internet. In Jan-Mitra a community network was established using offline and online modes of connectivity but prior to this assessment of rural needs was done and proper selection of village and entrepreneurs were made for effective operations. Similarly in Lok-Mitra assessment of urban needs were done in areas of delivering services and timings of kiosks to make them favorable among urban people. Use of local language at internet portal and kiosk is also a contribution factor in the success of e-Mitra. Because of local language rural people are able to understand the content which has decreased their dependency on others. Before the starting of project extensive training was provided to kiosk owners to make them IT literate and built IT awareness in rural areas. To provide services through ITC it is must to have a sound IT backend support. Therefore backend support in area of software development is being provided by private players through the model of PPP. Automation of data has been done in all Government departments to answer queries from kiosk in minimum time through real time access. Strengthening of demand of e-Mitra was the most critical factor in the success of e-Mitra. This was done through following ways: • It was marketed as a product to people by applying marketing strategies like 4Ps (Price, Place, Product and Promotion). Because for its success it was necessary that people perceived it as a product and demand it. Since services could only be paid if they are perceived as beneficial to citizens. • Communities were involvement to get structured and unstructured feedback of citizens through surveys and workshops. Since feedback is must for continuous addition of new services and to make existing services better. • Awareness was generated in citizens through proactive marketing. Various road shows and stalls in urban and rural areas were established to make people aware of e-Mitra. Since awareness was must to create demand in future and sustainability of e-Mitra was only dependent on this demand of citizens. Conclusion It is necessary to understand the demands of citizens to design a model of e-governance project. In future proper demand assessment at initial stages generates demand for e-services if properly marketed to make people aware of services and benefits. Involvement of various parties and better coordination among them increase the sustainability and smooth functioning of project. Use of PPP model helps in achieving financial sustainability of project and involves of stakes of various parties. People should be made aware of various benefits of e-governance because their awareness is must for demand generation. Change in mindset of government officials and employees should be done to make them believe in benefits of an e-governance project. Since automation and computerization of government offices is required for providing services through ICT in real time manner. Government involvement is necessary in removing hurdles while initial stages of implementation and providing support in form of infrastructure and favorable government services. References: 1. E-Government for Development. eTransparency Case Study No. 11. Gyandoot: Trying to Improve Government Services for Rural Citizens in India. Retrieved November 14, 2008 from http://www. gov4dev. org/transparency/case/gyandoot. shtml 2. Harris, Roger and Rajora, Rajesh. Empowering the Poor Information and Communications Technology for Governance and Poverty Reduction. A Study of Rural Development Projects in India by UNDP. Retrieved November 14, 2008 from http://www. apdip. net/publications/ict4d/EmpoweringThePoor. pdf 3. Centre for Electronic Governance, IIM Ahmedabad. Rural Cybercafes on Intranet. Gyandoot: A Cost Benefit evaluation study. Retrieved November 14, 2008 from http://www. iimahd. ernet. in/egov/documents/gyandoot-evaluation. pdf 4. Dr. Shankara Prasad. Inkroma: What is wrong with e-governance projects in India? Retrieved November 14, 2008 from http://www. egovernance. inkroma. com/Building%20the%20foundation%20Blocks%20Article. pdf 5. http://www. emitra. gov. in/eMitra/egovConstruction. jsp 6. Integrated Service Delivery to Citizens: Rajasthan Experience. (http://darpg. nic. in/arpg-website/conference/jaipurconf/e-mitra-2006. ppt) 7. E-Mitra Project (http://indiagovernance. gov. in/presentations/E-Mitra. pps) 8. ICTD. ICTs for Development: Case Studies from Indias 9. Integrated Service Delivery to Citizens: Rajasthan Experience http://egovonline. et/egovindia/egov%20India%202006%20presentationsegov%20India%2025th%20AugustPlenary%20Integrated%20Service%20DeliveryRohit%20K%20Singh. pdf 10. Capacity Building in Rajasthan: Case Study of e-Mitra http://orissa. gov. in/e_governance/presentationMaterial/PRESENTATION/DAY%202/Day2-Sess1/D2S1%20V%20BADAL. ppt ----------------------- WAN Kiosks Kiosks Kiosks Kiosks Kiosks Kiosks Kiosks Kiosks Local Service Provider2 Kiosks Local Service Provider1 District Window District Administration State Data Center Divisional Data/Control Center Secretariat LAN User Department User Department User Department
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