When we talk of government services, the image of long queues, unending delays, chaotic offices and piles of paper, automatically crops in our mind. This was true for all levels of government – the Centre, the states as well as the local bodies. However, things are changing gradually for better with the use of information and communication technology. Some of the organisations have successfully transformed their way of functioning and service delivery system with the help of modern technology.
The quality and effectiveness of service delivery today is directly linked to good governance practices and use of modern technology, especially ICT, a countrywide study on the state of governance by Skoch Group has revealed. There are interests for the use of modern technology at the government departments and organisations across the country, either due to the increasing pressure from the public or on the initiatives of bureaucrats and elected representatives.
We will here present a state-wise comparison and also highlight some unique projects that have led to significant improvements in service delivery system and functioning of the organisations.
Top states for good governance initiatives were Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. In fact, there is a tie between these two states for the top spot in the ranking, based on the Skoch study. Maharashtra was at the second position followed by Delhi and Karnataka jointly at the third spot. Punjab is at the fourth place followed by Tripura, Chandigarh (Union Territory) and West Bengal at fifth, sixth and seventh place, respectively.
Maharashtra tops in e-governance initiatives followed by Gujarat at the second and Jharkhand at the third place. Madhya Pradesh is at the fourth spot followed by Punjab and West Bengal at fifth and sixth place respectively.
Below, we will discuss selected projects state-wise that have helped bring substantial improvement in governance and also analyse the state’s readiness to India 2.0 that targets to make the country an upper-middle income economy by 2025 propelled by employment, inclusive growth and safe environment for development.
With per capita income of $1,499, India is currently categorised as lower middle-income economy, as per the World Bank’s classification. The countries with per capita gross national income ranging from $4,126 to $12,745 are categorised as upper middle-income economy. To achieve the India 2.0 target the $1.9 trillion economy now must grow by at least 9 per cent annually over the next 10 years.
Contribution of states is crucially important to achieve the India 2.0 target. While some states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka are ahead of the national average on most economic parameters, the states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha remain a drag. However, the good news is that some states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan that were a part of the so-called BIMARU region are now doing exceedingly well. Bihar has also registered an impressive economic growth in the past decade and taken several innovative measures to improve the state of governance.
Information and communication technology has been the mainstay of Gujarat’s impressive economic expansion in the past decade. The state has effectively used the technology to reduce red tape, corruption and streamlined economic processes.
Narendra Modi, who steered the state from September 2001 to May 2014, extensively used IT in the governance process. Modern technology helped improve efficiency of the government and lower its size. Modi often says that his governance model is based on the philosophy of “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance.” Now as Prime Minister, Modi has promised to replicate it nationally.
Gujarat’s new Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who was part of Modi cabinet in the state, seems to be taking forward the mantra of leaner government and focus on technology. The state has taken several innovative measures in the past couple of years and used technology extensively to improve service delivery.
Appreciating the state’s governance initiatives, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim recently said India, which is currently placed at 134th place in the World Bank’s ease of doing business report, would jump 50 spots by implementing the Gujarat model of reforms.
In our latest state of governance initiative, we examined nearly 1000 unique projects that were initiated recently. Here, we will talk about a few latest initiatives that have made substantial impact on the public service delivery and the governance system.
Gujarat Informatics Ltd has introduced Integrated Workflow Document Management System (IWDMS) that allows real-time electronic file creation, tracking and maintenance of inward as well as outward applications/letters. The system has helped bring transparency and improve efficiency. It ensures that file dealing with any subject in the organisation is processed in a similar manner. It contains hierarchy of people in a particular department, their roles, reporting relations, the subjects they deal with and the sections they belong to. The automated system helps in prioritisation of work and substantially improved productivity on the one hand and minimised the chances of corruption.
Top states for good governance initiatives were Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. In fact, there is a tie between these two states for the top spot. Maharashtra was at the second position followed by Delhi and Karnataka jointly at the third spot.
New technology and automation have helped bring remarkable change in various areas from delivery of the social security services under the programmes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to policing and sports. The state has developed an Integrated Geo-spatial ICT solution for planning and monitoring of works under the MGNREGA. The integrated solution includes Geographical Information System, Remote Sensing, Global Positioning System and Mobile Technology.
For the mega sporting event of the state Khel Mahakumbh, the registration and other related services have been fully automated. Some 3.14 million people participated in 21 games and athletic events in 2013 edition of the annual event, held generally in December. End-to-end processing of the event – from registration of the participants to selection of winner is done electronically.
Several good governance initiatives have been taken by the local bodies. Surat Municipal Corporation has introduced an innovative waste water management system that enables recycle, reuse of sewage water through tertiary treatment. It has reduced diversion of drinking water for non-potable purposes. Now the treated water is supplied for industrial use and other non-drinking purposes. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has set up an entity called Sabarmati River Front Development Corporation Ltd with a view to ensure that the people whose residences and livelihood are adversely affected by the project is adequately compensated. Setting up a company for resettlement and rehabilitation work made the process quicker and minimised the chances of public protests to the projects. Many similar projects in other parts of the country are stuck for years due to resettlement and rehabilitation issues.
The Gujarat government has introduced Mobile Inspection System for Rural Development that has helped eliminate delays and errors in inspection and monitoring of various developmental programmes. The project has facilities to capture the stage details, images and videos of work with other relevant data, carrying out geo-tagging of work at various stage with GPS coordinates, generating inspection order and mailing the same automatically to inspection officer and ordering authority in pdf format. There is a linkage provided in the system where inspection report’s GPS co-ordinate link would be located and shown on map.
Surat Police has introduced a project called “Suraksha Setu – Safe City” with the threefold objective of surveillance, traffic management and disaster management. CCTV cameras installed across the city have helped improve surveillance and there is remarkable improvement in traffic management.
Once part of BIMARU (sick in Hindi) states, Madhya Pradesh has now emerged as the fastest growing state in the country. The state registered an average 10 per cent GDP growth in the last three years, almost double the national average of around 5 per cent.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s focus on governance and infrastructure development has yielded impressive results and the state which was a big drag on India’s growth and development in 1980s and 1990s has now become a driver of national growth. Farm sector growth in the state averaged over 20 per cent in the last three years, while the national average was less than 3 per cent.
Although, Madhya Pradesh remains a poor state with lower per capita income than the national average, the state recorded an impressive economic expansion in the last decade and the momentum would be crucial for India 2.0 target. Madhya Pradesh state per capita income stood at Rs 44,989 in the financial year 2012-13 against the national average of Rs 67,839.
In the Skoch study that focused on the recent initiatives, Madhya Pradesh acquired first place jointly with Gujarat in good governance. Here, we will analyse a few projects that have played important role in improving social service delivery system and made overall governance process better.
The state has extensively used new technology to streamline and improve governance. With a view to redress the grievances of people, Chouhan has launched IT-based solution Samadhan Online. Under this initiative the Chief Minister holds regular video conference with district collectors, reviews and addresses concerns of the people.
The state has introduced Samagra Portal that provides a common integrated platform for digital inclusion and proactive and entitlement-based model of governance. The MP government runs over 140 welfare schemes. Before Samagra, each scheme had its own eligibility criteria, benefits, etc. Samagra, that means ‘All Inclusive’ provides a common integrated digital platform for e-governance, proactive governance and door-step delivery of services. This bi-lingual web-portal facilitates online monitoring, analysis and dissemination of information in real-time.
Another project worth mentioning here is e-Ladli initiative of the Directorate of Women Empowerment. The initiative helps monitor development and welfare of girl child in the state from birth to 21 years of age. Over 1.7 million girl children are being tracked online under the initiative through website ladlilaxmi.com. e-Ladli ensures timely immunisation, enrolment and continuity in school as well as marriage. The online initiative ensures effective implementation of Ladli Laxmi Scheme, a holistic women empowerment programme of Madhya Pradesh Government. The scheme was introduced six years ago with the objective to improve the sex ratio by promoting birth of girl child. It has today become a holistic women empowerment programme.
In the Skoch study, Maharashtra is at the top when it comes to e-governance initiatives. Maharashtra is among the few states to have a dedicated e-Governance policy and has effectively used modern technologies to bring transparency and accountability in governance and social service delivery. The state e-Governance policy aims to enable government to “function more efficiently and move towards a paperless environment.”
Several organs of the government from municipalities, police, finance to housing departments have taken a number of pioneering steps to reach out to citizens in a more effective manner and eliminate loopholes and corruption. Many initiatives started at small level, have scaled up state-wide and several of them have the potential to be replicated nationally.
Maharashtra is already far ahead of the national average in India 2.0 readiness. The state per capita income stood at Rs 107,670 in fiscal 2012-13, which is almost 60 per cent higher than the national average of Rs 67,839. On other parameters like literacy, health and overall human development, Maharashtra is placed better than the national average. Maharashtra ranks fifth in the country on the UNDP’s Human Development Index 2013. As per the 2011 Census, 82.3 per cent of the state population is literate, while India’s literacy ratio is 73 per cent. Population below poverty line in the state is 17.4 per cent against the national average of 21.9 per cent.
In a major step towards ensuring efficiency and transparency in administrative system, the government has introduced e-Office scheme that allows hassle free permanent storage of records. Under the old system the government files used to pass through at least 10 unproductive touch points, while in the new system there is no unproductive touch point. Now the files go directly to the person involved or to the registry electronically. The new system allows hassle free permanent storage of records and time-bound delivery of services to citizens.
In order to make the process participative, the Directorate of IT has introduced online certification and training programmes in e-Governance. The certification programme is mandatory for all DIT staff, consultants and software developers working with the Government of Maharashtra. The programme aims to facilitate learning of basic fundamental concepts of e-governance in practical scenario. “The focus is not on mugging up definitions, but understanding concepts and being able to appreciate and apply in real project scenarios,” says Rajesh Aggarwal, IT Secretary, Government of Maharashtra.
The programme stresses on the practical knowledge rather than the theoretical concepts. It is based on open book online evaluation process. During the test, the candidates are free to take help of books or search on the Internet. There is no dearth of time also. They are given sufficient time to read and analyse. However, the candidates are expected to articulate the responses in their own words and markings depend on this. The training initiative has helped the state to create a pool of skilled personnel for e-governance.
Maharashtra is the first state in India to have a dedicated e-governance policy. The policy is aimed to provide seamless guidance to all the departments and administrative structure as a whole to prepare and take up meaningful citizen centric e-governance initiatives. The objective of the policy is to ensure standardised and seamless implementation of e-governance projects across Maharashtra, thereby encouraging interoperability, data collaboration, sharing and linkage with UID. It targets all service delivery channels, be it Government to Citizen (G2C), Government to Business (G2B) and Government to Government (G2G).
Maharashtra is the first state in India to have a dedicated e-governance policy. The policy is aimed to provide seamless guidance to all the departments and administrative structure as a whole to prepare and take up meaningful citizen centric e-governance initiatives.
Technology is today widely used in administration and public service delivery system in most areas from agriculture to industries, taxation and policing. For example, Maharashtra Agriculture Department has introduced a number of projects like eThibak, eParwana and Crop Pest Surveillance & Advisory Project (CROPSAP) that leverage ICT for better service delivery. These projects address farm related issues such as subsidy disbursal, license management, rainfall data collection and dissemination, pest management and MIS reporting, to name a few. The underlying principles of these projects include making availability of data in public domain, adherence to e-governance policies, service delivery through the Internet and mobiles.
Under eThibak, farmers can apply online for micro-irrigation system and choose dealers and manufacturers. Subsidy is disbursed after micro-irrigation system is installed by dealer and verified by the concerned department. The cost of a component is standard, across manufacturers and dealers.
eParwana processes online license applications for manufacture, import, distribution and retailing of seeds, fertilisers, and pesticides. This enables farmers to get to know nearest dealer, price and information like sowing pattern, recommendations and yield for various inputs. It allows standardised forms and procedures for applying and getting license for all licensing authorities (state level as well as 34 district level). Online fees payment is allowed through the Government Receipts Accounting System (GRAS) and advanced license renewal and application status alerts are provided through SMS.
Under CROPSAP online data entry and analysis is facilitated by agricultural scientists. The state agriculture department provides SMS-based advisory to farmers on the issues related to crop pests. It provides online pest monitoring and advisory mechanism using field visits and pest situation analysis.
Pioneering initiatives taken by various units and departments of the state government will further strengthen Maharashtra’s position in the Indian economy and ensure that the benefits of the development reach to citizens at doorsteps transparently and efficiently.
Punjab has played a crucial role in India’s self sufficiency in food production. The state supplies nearly one-third of the country’s central pool of wheat and rice. However, now the agriculture sector is stagnating. One of the major challenges for Punjab today is to diversify its economy, in order to maintain the growth momentum.
When B. Purushartha joined as Director, Education and Industrial Training, in mid 2012, he was appalled by the widespread corruption and irregularities in the system. “Several industrial training institutes were running just on papers. Thousands of students were being cheated in the name of industrial training,” said Purushartha adding, he has taken several reform measures to cleanse the system and make it transparent.
With the support of a private company, Purushartha has developed web portal for technical training and job seekers and made the entire admission process in ITIs online. Electronic monitoring has helped eliminate bogus admissions. “I have closed down 70 fake ITIs,” he said adding, these institutions were mostly run on paper by influential people.
Lack of funding is not deterring the officials from taking governance reform measures. Vipul Ujwal, who is commissioner of Bathinda Municipal Corporation, along with Sonali Giri, ADEO, Bathinda has developed a system of providing voting solutions in mobile. Ujwal said the government has not provided any funding for the project yet and the officials have developed the new system on their own initiative.
The new application called iVote is an Android based system that provides single touch access to information related to elections. “We have done this in Punjab and want it to be replicated pan India,” he said.
Several initiatives have also been taken in the state to make taxation and financial transactions user friendly and transparent.
Commissioner of Excise and Taxation Department of Punjab, Shiv Dular Singh said, the department has revolutionised its way of working through several e-Governance initiatives.
Under the programme, Computerisation of Tax Information System, the state now provides end-to-end taxation services electronically. The services include online registration, amendment and cancellation, online returns, automated scrutiny, online refunds and statutory forms issuance, system-assisted assessment, audits and automated document and record management system. It also provides system-assisted processes for other commercial taxes including luxury and institutional taxes, online excise processes from licensee registration to pass issuance and management information system.
The online submission and processing of key applications that include registration, amendment, refunds, statutory forms, excise permits and passes have helped ease the process of doing business in the state. Officials expressed hope that the new initiatives would help attract investments.
On the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST), that seeks to bring uniformity in indirect tax system across the country, Singh said Punjab was already gearing up for the required changes and the new initiatives would help in smooth implementation of the system.
GST is one of India’s most comprehensive economic reforms. It seeks to create a uniform indirect tax structure across the country by merging all central and state taxes. By eliminating the cascading effect of multiple central and state taxes, GST is expected to reduce taxation and filing costs and boost business profitability – in turn attracting investments and accelerating economic growth. The proposed tax reform has been lingering for more than a decade largely due to apprehensions of states on revenue loss.
Punjab has used modern technology comprehensively to make financial planning and transactions faster and transparent. Under the Integrated Financial Management System, the state now have real-time monitoring system for public finances. Now the budget process has become paperless and the new system provides better tracking and utilisation of funds.
An initiative by bankers and bureaucrats has helped achieve 100 per cent financial inclusion in West Tripura district. The process started as a pilot in September 2012 in a tribal dominated Mandwai block and gradually scaled up to cover all other blocks. People of the district now get all government benefits directly to their accounts. The initiative offers a role model for the national schemes like Jan Dhan.
With a view to prevent any manipulation, the department has issued digital signature to all the authorised persons. Over 7,000 officials have been assigned digital signature to ensure safe access to the system.
The new system provides comprehensive information and database that assist in decision making for development projects and day-to-day management and administration of public spending. It enables the government to monitor outcomes of various schemes and helps eliminate misuse or misappropriation of public funds.
The new system gives better idea of liquidity position to the policymakers enabling faster and suitable decision-making. It also reduces the chances of fiscal profligacy and ensures discipline in government spending. Better fiscal management has helped Punjab inch closer to the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act compliance. Enacted by the parliament in 2003, the FRBM Act puts limits on fiscal and revenue deficits by setting targets for both. The Act had set a target of progressively cutting the fiscal deficit of the country to 3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2008. However, the targets have not been achieved yet and the central government has now set a new target to cut the fiscal deficit to 3 per cent by 2017.
In order to instill confidence in law and order situation, Punjab has introduced community policing called Saanjh. The initiative is aimed to make police, citizen friendly. There is an inherent fear among the common people to enter a police station for civil disputes and works, said a senior official of Punjab Police Service G S Dhillon adding the main objective of Saanjh initiative is to remove that inherent fear from the minds of the common people.
Under this initiative services are provided through Saanjh Kendras that are manned by personnel dressed in civil or corporate dress.
Saanjh that means partnering in English, is managed by six-tier body at head of which is the Community Affairs Division and the State Level Co-Ordination and Review Committee that provides policy, guidelines, support for capacity building and strengthen system of planning, management, participatory and integrity mechanism.
Every Saanjh Kendra is run by a Police-Public Committee, comprising of police officers and representations from government departments such as health, education and civil society. It typically has representatives from colleges, professionals, civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
A state-wide IT platform with centralised server at police headquarters linked to every Saanjh Kendra has been set up to provide the services faster, transparently and in a time bound manner.
No doubt, Punjab is among the most prosperous states in the country. On all the major parameters of economic and human developments, the state is far above the national average. The state per capita income stood at Rs 86,106 in fiscal 2012-13 against the national average of Rs 67,839.
Only 8.3 per cent of the state population is below poverty line while for whole country, the proportion of people below poverty line is 21.9 per cent.
To attract industries and investments, the state must take decisions at a faster pace. Bureaucrats from different departments ranging from finance and education to election and police reforms have taken several innovative measures in the recent months to curb corruption and make service delivery system
faster and more transparent, that would ultimately result in higher growth.
Although, we have focused above on four states where a large number of pioneering steps have been taken to improve governance, this in no way means that such initiatives have not been taken in other parts of the country. We came across several interesting projects from across the country. Several pioneering projects have come up recently in the states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar. Union Territories like Delhi and Chandigarh have also initiated several pioneering projects that could be a game changer for the delivery of social services and overall governance process.
Here we would like to mention a financial inclusion initiative in Tripura. An initiative by bankers and bureaucrats has helped achieve 100 per cent financial inclusion in West Tripura district. The process started as a pilot in September 2012 in a tribal dominated Mandwai block and gradually scaled up to cover all other blocks. People of the district now get all government benefits directly to their accounts. The initiative offers a role model for the national schemes like Jan Dhan.
In what can qualify as a classic case of how a cash-strapped state can augment revenue without adding to the discomfort of taxpayers, West Bengal Excise Department has introduced a simple online tax filing system called e-Abgari. Apart from curbing illicit sale of liquor, e-Abgari has helped the state to almost treble revenue to Rs 3,000 crore in just four years, even though liquor sales were up by 50 per cent.
West Bengal Excise Department has introduced a simple online tax filing system called e-Abgari. Apart from curbing illicit sale of liquor, e-Abgari has helped the state to almost treble revenue to Rs 3,000 crore in just four years, even though liquor sales were up by 50 per cent.
Jharkhand has taken several e-governance initiatives like e-Nibandhan, e-NagrikSeva,e-Kalyan, online land records and electronic system for grievance redressal.
By using Project Management System, Karnataka government has been able to monitor the construction activity in regular and efficient manner. This has enabled the early completion of the project and also avoided cost overrun. Further, the technological interface is helping it improve its efficiencies to get real time and perfect updates about the activities under the department. This is among the several initiatives taken in the state to make governance better.
New technologies are being extensively used and initiatives have been taken across the country to improve governance system. The real problem lies in implementation and scalability of the projects. Most of the initiatives are taken at individual or department levels and work in silos. The need of the hour is to ensure that such initiatives are institutionalised and scaled up. There is no point in reinventing the wheel. A huge amount of taxpayers’ money is spent on this. Efforts should be made to ensure that good projects are replicated across the country wherever possible and useful.
Saanjh: Community Policing
- In order to instill confidence in law and order situation, Punjab has introduced community policing called Saanjh.
- The initiative is aimed to make police, citizen friendly and remove the fear from the common people in approaching police for civil disputes.
- Saanjh that means partnering in English, is managed by six-tier body at head of which is the Community Affairs Division and the State Level Co-Ordination and Review Committee that provides policy, guidelines, support for capacity building and strengthen system of planning, management, participatory and integrity mechanism.
- Services provided through Saanjh Kendras manned by personnel dressed in civil or corporate dress.
- Kendras run by Police-Public Committee, comprising of police officers and representations from government and civil society.
- State-wide IT platform link every Saanjh Kendra to provide services faster, transparently and in a time bound manner.
- Saanjh Kendras provide 25 civil services of Punjab Police. 20 of these services are time bounded under Right to Services Act, 2011.
- Copy of First Information Report (FIR) or Daily Dairy Register (DDR) report can be obtained immediately online.
- No objection certificate (NOC) for use of loudspeakers, fairs, melas, exhibitions and pre-owned vehicles provided within 5 days.
- Service verification, character verifications in maximum 10 days.
Christian Medical College, Vellore
Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, has taken a number of initiatives to improve its services. The new initiatives include:
E-Learning — Enhancing medical Education through the Use of IT:
The College started the project with Tufts University (Boston) to enhance the effectiveness of medical education through the use of information technology (IT). Through the e-Learning Initiative, CMC has been able to increase the efficiency of curriculum delivery, create locally relevant learning resources, incorporate their use into the curriculum and spur educational innovation.
Integrated Bioethics Curriculum for Health Personnel in India:
The academic unit of the College, along with the two institutional review boards and a clinical ethics unit, has formulated a unique bioethics curriculum that ensures that the practice of therapeutic medicine and medical research in the institution adheres to the highest ethical standards.
CHRIS CARD – CMC’s Innovative In-house Debit Card:
Recognising the needs of patient, the CMC’s Department of Computerised Hospital Information Processing Services (CHIPS), came up with an in-house innovation – the CMC debit card, dubbed as the ‘CHRIS’ card, which helps patients pay for their appointments, investigations, medications and inpatient bills.
CLINICAL WORKSTATION – An In-house Hospital Information System (HIS):
HIS covers the patient registration and appointment system, admission-discharge-transfer (ADT) process, Outpatient and Inpatient billing, Company & Insurance billing and Reimbursement procedures, and is integrated with MRD, Laboratories, Pharmacy Department, Operation Theatre, Anesthesia Department, Dietary and Laundry. It includes the Clinical Workstation that is an interface by which doctors can view patient data.
Geographic Information Systems in Health Care:
GIS has helped provide additional insights to better understand the complexities in disease transmission and inequalities in health among communities. GIS uses geographical data to map the distribution of people, natural resources and built up structures and had hitherto found application chiefly in agriculture, industry, civic planning and defense.