Tuesday 14 June 2011

E-Delivery of Public Services Development Policy Loan of India

World Bank has been granting loans and grants to India for long. However, there seems to be no mechanism to ensure either the achievement of results or to bring accountability towards the loans and grants so issued. The latest to add to this list is the e-delivery of public services development policy loan to India.

This is the updated version of my previous article on similar topic. E-delivery of services has been seen as an essential part of e-governance in India. However, e-governance itself is based upon good governance that also in a corruption free manner.

E-governance has the potential to eliminate corruption but in the Indian context e-governance itself has become a source of corruption. What is surprising is the fact that this is happening right in front of and under the nose of World Bank. The bigger question is whether the World Bank or Indian government is accountable for loans and grants that are never utilised for the benefit of common man in India?

Recently the World Bank and Indian government signed a loan agreement of $150 million for the e-delivery of public services in India. The loan has been granted as the e-delivery of public services development policy loan to be utilised under the national e-governance plan of India (NEGP).

Although the intentions are good yet the final outcome is not difficult to predict. India has a very poor track record of policy formulation and its implementation. For instance, policies pertaining to cyber law, cyber security, encryption, telecom, telecom security, mobile security, etc are still missing.

Further, India also has a poor track record of e-governance utilisation and providing of electronic delivery of services in India. We have no legal enablement of ICT systems in India and legal framework for e-delivery of services in India is also missing. In fact, as per e-governance experts of India, e-governance in India is dying. Without a mandatory e-governance services in India, e-delivery of services in India cannot be achieved.

According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based law firm Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of India, “The Government and Indian Bureaucrats need to change their mindset and stress more upon outcomes and services rather than mere ICT procurement. India needs a services-based approach that is not only transparent but also backed by a more efficient and willing Government. Presently the Bureaucrats and Government of India are in a “resistance mode” towards novel and effective e-governance policies and strategies and they are merely computerising traditional official functions only. This is benefiting neither the Government nor the citizens and is resulting in wastage of thousands of crores of public money and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Bank Grants amount”.“The Governmental will and leadership is missing in India. To worsen the situation the Government of India is concentrating more upon the image rather than upon the end results. The grassroots level action is missing and the benefits of ICT are not reaching to the under privileged and deserving masses due to defective ICT strategies and policies of Indian Government. India is suffering from the “vicious circle” of defective e-governance, as the basic input .i.e. governance itself is poor. India needs a “virtuous circle” of e-governance through good governance that would have multiplication and amplification effect upon e-governance efforts of Indian Government, says Praveen Dalal.

E-delivery of public services in India is missing and World Bank is not at all interested in establishing transparency and accountability in Indian NEGP. World Bank must ensure accountability of Indian NEGP in order to show that its loans are actually meant for growth and development of Indian masses rather than benefiting few politicians and bureaucrats as is happening right now.

In these circumstance, the e-delivery of public services development policy loan would just add to the woes of Indians as this type of e-governance would be a source of corruption itself rather than removing the mass corruption existing in India. No time in the past the need for a strong and effective Jan Lokpal Act is felt more than the present circumstances where neither India nor International organisations like United Nations, World Bank, UNDP, etc are questioning the acts and omissions of Indian government.

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