E-governance helps people, businesses and the government to interact with one another by bringing them closer. Cognizant of the importance of e-governance, the Government of India has taken several positive measures in this regard. The objective of National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), as stated, is to “make all Government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets, and ensure efficiency, transparency & reliability of such services at affordable costs to realize the basic needs of the common man.”
However, in India, there are large differentials in terms of skewed income and wealth distribution, median income, functional literacy, lack of basic infrastructure. All these combine to pose major challenges to the effective implementation of e-governance.
Low per capita income
A large number of the people in India are poor, with low disposable personal income, which is an obstacle for economic progress. The required infrastructure, such as telephone lines, etc. required for Internet, email access, is too costly for the poor. This creates a formidable challenge to realize the fruits of the e-governance measures.
Integration of services
The performance of e-governance depends on complete integration of services. This is a major challenge because of the language barriers – there are 18 official languages in India. Further, the States and the Union governments are headed by different political dispensations. This creates political and language issues. Thus, even though the National Informatics Centre is the only body responsible for creating a framework for integration of the services, there is no ready-made solution that can be used by NIC to integrate the multitude of services.
Despite six decades of independent political existence, the differentials with respect to technical skills and accessibility across different sections of people still remain unaddressed. Access to Internet is not easy in rural areas, as well as in small towns. Therefore, there are no political incentives for spending time and money on measures that benefit people. Further, there is little education and awareness of the benefits of using technology.
Lack of awareness of benefits of e-governance
This is yet another harsh reality. People are not aware of e-governance and its projects, such as G2C, G2G or G2B, let alone their benefits.
The speed of government websites and their user-friendliness are not very good, even in urban areas. If the websites are not designed well, visitors will not find them of much use. Often, there is an absence of uninterrupted electricity, Internet access and fast communication, which becomes a major challenge to e-governance implementation.
Technology keeps on changing at a fast pace, which most government departments and agencies are unable to keep pace with. This makes security vulnerable. With hackers using new technologies, ensuring security for online transactions is absolutely essential. There have been many instances of government websites being defaced/ hacked.
Need for restructuring
Implementing e-governance norms necessitates a number of administrative changes, which require streamlining of administered norms. This involves doing away with modules that are no longer relevant and create obstacles to e-governance.
E-Governance is an innovative initiative by the government to ensure that government services are easily accessible to people and they are able to accrue its benefits. The importance of eliminating all obstacles cannot, therefore, be overstated.