eGovernance in India

Improving eGovernance in INDIA

eGovernance and Government Process Automation at the cutting edge of administration vis a vis power of District Collector

Posted by egovindia on July 6, 2006

eGovernance and Government Process Automation at the cutting edge of administration vis a vis power of District Collector

Please go through this and send your coments.

Tiruvarur e-Governance Project
Transformation of the India’s first e-district by tech. savvy I.A.S. officer Mr. Umashankar.

A summary of group discussion outside the main group:

We are discussing about Government process automation which seeks to reengineer the administrative processes. This is different from industrial process automation. Industrial process automation is simple as it is supported by automated machines. In the case of government no such automated machine can replace the government employees. So, there is no comparison between industrial automation and government process automation.

Process automation of Government functioning requires full scale involvement of the Government staff. We all need to fully agree that it is not a one man job. The one man, if any, can provide leadership but the rest of the government force has to take up keyboard and mouse as their way of life in the office.

A local officer in a District can create a process change or reengineer it. The great Lakhena experiment in Maharashtra was a local effort, Gyandoot was a local effort, West Godwari – Sanjay jaju’s effort was a local effort, Jaju’s Soukaryam in Vizag was a local effort, our moderator Umashankar’s Tiruvarur effort was a local effort and one can count more like this. It is everyone’s understanding that only these local efforts which are mostly heroic in nature that get noticed at the higher level and then the same is taken up for replication. It is a different story that many of such heroic efforts go unnoticed and never replicated. Even a recognized effort such as Sanjay Jaju’s award winning Vizag and West Godawari efforts were not replicated! This is yet another a puzzle India had learnt to live with.

WE SHOULD NOT SAY that there is no possibility of process automation or process reengineering at the district level. It would be absolutely imprudent to conclude that individual leaders cannot lead a team at the filed level aiming at process automation based e-governance or process reengineering with or without e-governance.

A discussion that took place beyond the main group discussion raised serious questions about these issues. One side had taken a view that individuals cannot spearhead changes such as process automation based e-governance or process reengineering.

No one can be totally theoretical while refusing to look at what had happened right in front of our eyes. There is a proverb “you can wake up a sleeping person but not some one who pretends to be asleep”.

What some say would cost millions of dollars and hundreds of man years had been accomplished in Tiruvarur, Vizag and West Godwari. There could be many more un reported cases. We are told that the Customs department in India had done a similar feet using in house talent.

For NISG it may take hundreds of years but for the real champions, it does not take time.
An argument was put forth that process automation and process reengineering at district level requires huge mobilization and total involvement of the entire government staff. It is true that the entire bureaucracy has to be mobilized if process automation based e-governance has to be implemented. It was found in Tiruvarur that mobilizing the government staff was like a song. They were bought over by the leader’s sincerity. Once they knew that the leader was really sincere they followed him without any questions. Only a few people can never understand this concept because such an understanding is meant only for honest people and not for a corrupt person or some one who changes his stand every day. A dishonest person’s world view is totally different and it is usually illogical. Surprisingly, we found that in the off the group conversation one member was fiercely arguing against process automation and process reengineering at the field level. Of course it was illogical. India needs more leaders who have the courage and conviction to stand up and do the right thing for the millions of the poor and the underprivileged. Without these leaders there can be no change at all.

It is also our stand that NISG has been going for quick fix / window dressing solutions through e-Seva / Bangalore one like projects which do not offer any scope for true e-gov. True e-Gov takes elaborate preparations, committed leadership from the bureaucracy, commitment from government with policy and funding and so on. NISG has skirted all these vital factors and has been doing something which is anything else but e-governance. .

In the off the group conversation, a member tried to justify the NISG’s window dressing technique on account of “huge money requirement, etc”.. It is like marrying one’s own sister as one is too lazy to look around for a suitable bride! (This is a south Indian proverb).

There is no other way to empower the nation except through process automation.

The role of a District Collector in bringing about change at the field level is too vital and cannot be underestimated. A district collector, if he is committed can change the way the people live/think/behave. Life would never be the same for the citizens if they get a honest and pro active Collector. Here is the experience of Nellore distirct of Andhra Pradesh under the able leadership of its District Collector Mr.Raju years ago. His proactive administrative style had brought about a revolution in Nellore district. The first women self help movement in India started here under Mr.Raju. It was started against illicit arrack. The movement snow balled into a huge force that in turn forced Mr.NT Rama Rao, the then Chief Minister of AP to declare total prohibition in AP. India had witnessed many such Rajus who have left a trail of change that had enriched the nation. To belittle the institution of Collector/District Magistrate is nothing else but exhibiting ignorance, that too in the present context where the DM’s institution is looked upon as a balancing factor between the center and the states.

Our Moderator 2 who served as a District Collector says that at the district collector’s level 99% of the decision making gets over. Hardly 1% of the files go up to the Secretariat for decision making. That is the power of this office! So, citizens can get their grievances redressed within the parameters at the DC level quickly. And there is tremendous scope for bringing about process reengineering, automation and what not. That is the level of independence a district collector has. The difference is that the more a state is backward, the more the DC has power to change. In established states such as Karnataka/TN/Kerala etc., we have large number of rules and regulations that govern the decision making process. But in states such as MP, Bihar, UP etc., there are less rules and more freedom. That means the officer at the district level is like a God. He/she can change the things for good provided the officer has the drive and integrity.

Of late the Panchayati raj administration in States such as Karnataka and West Bengal have brought down the impact of the DC’s office with regard to developmental activities. But the DC as head of the law and order and Revenue (Taluka office) administration wields tremendous powers. The DC is also the administrative sanctioning authority for the MP local Area development fund and certain other funds.

Suffice is to say that a District Collector/DM can do literally wonders if he is honest and proactive.

We all need to learn from all of the above.

India is yet to utilize the full potential of these District Collectors in bringing about change in the field.

India also intends to spend 1000 million dollars on e-governance in the next five years. That money has to go into process automation based e-gov. otherwise the entire money would go down the drain (into the pockets of a few private companies and people). USA had not spent any money on window dressing like the e-seva. Nor the best e-governed nation in our region, Singapore had followed the e-seva model! We should follow the US / Singapore and resort to process automation based e-gov. In the US no one can do the job of the government and payments in any case is routed through credit cards. Why don’t we follow the US way?

We need to learn from US on state functions. The States in US does not allow private people to carry out the state’s functions! Why in India people seek to hand over the entire state’s job to private companies?

In the US the people go for change quickly. They switch over to new technologies quickly. It is only in some application software packages they maintain status quo because of cost considerations. The world over IT companies get orders because US people have gone for database oriented applications and not excel based applications. And excel itself is not more than 15 years old!


Why GOI is not spending money on OSS ? Why only spend on SINGLE Proprietary Software ?
The NeGAP or eGovernance of GOI does not even discuss the potential of OSS, WHY ?
Why GOI spending all the MONEY allocated for eGovernance in a SINGLE VENDOR PROPRIETARY SOFTWARE? Which is going to cost us more and more money in the future.
Why GOI is spending money on buying licenses from SINGLE VENDOR PROPRIETARY SOFTWARE ? Where GOI of INDIA needs to be paying for renewal and upgrades every year the changes are made to those LICENSED SOFTWARES.

The reasons WHY GOI need to focus on Open Source Technology / Systems “OSS” include:

1. its low-cost royalty- and license-free nature;

2. the accessibility of the source code which allows for modification for particular contexts and languages;

3. the freedom from dependency on particular vendors;

4. the collaborative nature of open source; and

5. the fact that it is recognized as being more secure and stable than proprietary software.

We will wait for your reply.


V. M. Kumaraswamy, MBA


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