Governance means different things to different people, depending on where you are in your life.
“Good governance is epitomized by predictable, open and enlightened policy-making, a bureaucracy imbued with a professional ethos acting in furtherance of the public good, the rule of law, transparent processes, and a strong civil society participating in public affairs.” You can check out more on this from the World Bank at http://web.worldbank.org/archive/website01020/WEB/0__CON-5.HTM
As common people in India today, we are faced with a conflicting social situation on a daily basis. We coexist in apparent chaos, and survive, nay, thrive in ambiguity. Most of our ilk seemingly assume that the Government is just a distant entity helmed by a charismatic BJP leader, without being bothered about the layers of Government in our daily lives. Of immediate concern to us is the civic services provided to us in our cities and towns, by the local Government. Bombay where the state Govt resides seems like a distant relative, and Delhi seems like another world in its distance from our reality.
However , initiatives of the Central Govt in e-governance affect us in our every day existence, and have been evolving over the years . State Govts provide the environment for these people friendly initiatives that have been progressively initiated, local Governments struggle to keep pace and maintain some civic balance, and they often fail.
To illustrate two positive instances of the silent revolution in e-governance in India, I choose the humble driving license and the passport.
The Driving License permits us to participate in the unruly traffic that characterises most developing countries. Well, if we had superlative public transport, and an interlinked seamless network of it, and not just a token system, we would not need driving licenses….. However, well, we dont have such, so we need this small plastic card , and it needs to be renewed every now and then. Thirty years earlier I had obtained my first driving license, wobbling by on a borrowed scooter, and renewed it subsequently every decade or so in the recent times. And it had never been a pleasant experience. How many movies or books have been written about romance in the times of DL renewal?
So well, with trepidation I went online to the Govt website parivahan.gov.in , studied the process and applied online after uploading all the required documents, paid the nominal fees online, and printed out the required documents. In anticipation of a long wait and tangled lines at the RTO, I went armed with a book and a light snack on 04 Oct to the local centre. Of course, there was no sign posting , nor any official help desk, however , the usual ‘agents’ ( a pleasant term for a tout) did not bother with me as apparently I had all the required documents, and just pointed me to the relevant counter. Firstly, there was no line! , Secondly, the man at the counter was polite. Thirdly, he took the document set, checked the contents , and then smiled and said “it will be done”. No ingratiating smiles, no winks , no hints at any greasing of palms. It took me all of about 5 minutes from the time of my entry to the building to exiting it. Unbelievable! Not having to go to multiple counters or windows for approvals or signatures, I missed out on getting my planned steps count for the day! I was aghast at the efficiency. I went across to the Officer in Charge and complimented him on the new system and its customer friendliness. I can honestly state that he was taken aback! Maybe he was more used to people complaining and no one appreciating the work being done. Would you believe it, within two weeks, on the dot, I received my Driving License!
The passport application story again is similar. My wife and I applied to the Regional Passport Office on a Monday after filling in all the required info online, and in a matter of barely a cumulative hour of standing in multiple lines, we were out. And the passport was there at our doorstep by the next Monday!
If these are not illustrative of the convenience that e-governance provides to the common man, then what can be.
The resistance to good governance, is always from the people themselves. Those who have vested interests, those who would want to circumvent due processes, those who want preferential treatment and those who want it now!
As citizens, we have to be involved in our Government, we need to be proactive, we need to be participative. We can simply do this by leveraging our internet access. Those who read this are the target clientele.
Check out the https://www.mygov.in/ website. Log in, make your views known. Dont expect feedback. Be assured that there is a system in place to sift through all the ideas and views, and for them to be actioned upon.