E-governance literally can be defined as the digitalization of government service. Electronic Governance or e-governance is the procedure of delivering government service with the help of information and communication technology. E-governance is citizen-centric. It was introduced to bring transparency, speed, efficiency, accountability in governance. E-governance has a wider concept than e governance because with the help of information and communication technology e-governance provides correct information to the public about the various departments, its role, and function, etc.
Previously in all countries, work would go on manually by its employees or public servants. The invention of computers and the internet changed the scenario and its impact on humankind and its easy and quickly accessible nature force the lawmaker to think if it can be introduced in providing governance. Previously in every government offices for submitting tax or for applying for any certificate, scholarship, there was a long queue of the public.
It would hamper so much time and effects the governance badly. E-governance was a step to make governance more citizen-centric because the government should be by the people, of the people, for the people. In the early 1990s, despite the substantial deployment of computer technology in the back offices of government, most public officials usually communicated in person or by memo, letter, or telephone. In the late 1990s to early 2000, e-governance took shape and every private and public undertaking started digitalization.
Every invention and creation in this world is not perfect that’s why in this research, I did not intend to look into the problem and loopholes which are already known to us but tried to find the way by which India can fulfil the dream of Constitution maker.
Dr.B.R.Ambedkar in his Constitution Assembly speech said:-“ The first thing in my judgment we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives.”  Constitution of a country is the aspiration of its people, the dream of its framers. The preamble of the Constitution of India aims to secure “social, economic and political justice, LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, EQUALITY of status and opportunity; and to promote” to its citizen.
In the Mughal period, we had already witnessed that there was a huge gap between the government and the governed. The service and welfare activities were limited to certain people who know Arabic, Farsi. They got some privilege also. When Britishers invaded India, the people who knew English got several facilities. After experiencing these, the constitution framers aimed to secure maximum governance, governmental service, and welfare activities for the maximum number of people; especially for the weaker sections of people. Before the computer came into the governing system of our country, we had already witnessed the long queue outside the government department premises.
There was a lack of transparency, lots of middleman between the government and its governed, tax-evading, corruption, bribe. Being an advocate, I saw how in the land department, in the municipality corruption, the impact of middleman would hamper the people who just came to pay the tax or applying for certain land records or mutation. These things are also applicable in the case of government auction, taxation system. It hampers a lot to the Government in collecting revenue and loss of public money took place. The 11th report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, titled “Promoting e-Governance – The Smart Way Forward”, established the government’s position that an expansion in e-Government was necessary for India.
The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) is an initiative of the Government of India to make all government services available to the citizens of India via electronic media. It was formulated in 2006. The theme of (NeGP) was ‘Public services closer home’. E-governance assures less time consuming and the public can track the status of getting the service. The important fact is although e-governance started in the year 2006, 100% implementation of e-governance is still far away.
I have a dream that if all the public service can be served at the door house of public, India will be a dream country. Government is “for the people of the people and by the people”. If people face a problem in getting minimum public services, then the very purpose of the governance will be a failure. Our country is a welfare state and that’s why the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people should be the motive of serving people.
National e-Governance Plan was the stepping stone towards e-governance by the U.P.A government. After that N.D.A came into power and started campaigning for the Digital India initiative. It will ensure that the government services are made available to citizens electronically by improved online infrastructure and by increasing Internet connectivity or by making the country digitally empowered in the field of technology.
To transform the entire ecosystem of public services through the use of information technology, the Government of India has launched the Digital India program with the vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. Digital India initiative encourages all government departments, public institutions, judiciary for digitalization of all its records.
The National Judicial data grid is the product of the government’s e-court project. Now a citizen can trace the case status which is pending in the Court of Law and not only that but also can gather the information regarding history of the Court, detail of Judges, copy of the Court order and Judgement. E-governance has another aim to connect more with the public and lessen the burden of its employees.
It is a project of the Indian Income Tax Department to streamline its tax litigation system. I think that every Government department completed digitalization though very few numbers may yet be completed. E filing of Municipal taxes, Income tax, land tax is now a reality. It has helped to remove the middleman and taking of a bribe. Not only that, there are various apps launched by various government departments to lessen the burden of the public. Now, both central and State government collects maximum revenues, fees, GST through its online portal.
The Bhim UPI interface is very helpful and easy to send money to any account instantly with a touch of a thumb. With the help of digitalization, subsidies can reach straight to the public. Virtual tourism is also now a reality. We can virtually visit Rashtrapati Bhawan, Governor’s house or any other place. The main focus of e-governance is to erase the increasing distance between the public and its Government, governance and public services on demand, to provide information & speedy, efficient grievance redressal to all the consumer and general public.
The right to information was a revolutionary step of the then Government of India in 2005. Its digitalization helped a lot to the citizen of India. E registration, e certified copy of a registered deed, e appointment, searching of property details, e payment of stamp duty and registration fees, checking of the seller, buyer name and market value of land and property is the blessing for the citizen of this new era. India’s financial system also witnessed this digital revolution; internet banking, e passbook, e payment is one of its examples. You can locate any government department through the internet. Maximum state in India completed the digitalization of its land record, though 100% land reform settlement yet to be completed.
I, being an advocate who used to practice in the land matters, had bitter experience in the BLRO office. Middleman used to rule there. After having that experience, it feels that there is an immediate need to start the online application of mutation, conversion, Government fees payment for having a certified copy of a plot of lands and record of rights. Thanks to God, in my state, it has started recently in January 2018. Though a few years ago there was a system to know the details of land through this online portal, I felt that time that it was e-bidding of the mining operation and e-tender is a revolutionary step and a step ahead move towards transparency and efficiency. The bidder had to send scanned copies of important KYC documents. It helps the government to identify the real one.
E-governance through the online portal of e district is an exemplary method to serve the public instantly. Now we can expect it will lessen the distance between the Government and pubic and the long queue in front of Government offices.
The IRCTC website has been provided with the prompt facility to book railways tickets, air ticket, e bedroll, booking for a short stay in High-class waiting room, e catering. Through online portal Indian railways earning more nowadays. Now if anyone has any complaint regarding public services, any citizen can contact the Prime Minister or Chief Minister for its grievance redressal. That person can check the status of the complaint redressal.
I heard while participating in the WBNUJS National seminar on National Medical Commission Bill from Hon’ble Professor Sandeepa Bhat and Professor Menon along with the retired Justice of Calcutta High Court R.K.BAG that it is very easy to criticize but very tough to defend. The fact is we search answers that’s why to put questions not to question the question. The main purpose of organizing seminars, debates, and call for papers is to find out the answers because the questions are already there which we are facing in our day to day life directly or indirectly.
West Bengal Right to Public Services Act,2013 was enacted so that public services may reach the public within a stipulated time. The time has come and we need to set an example to the world. It is very common for there to be a game of criticism and the occasional throwing of responsibilities among the political parties and between Government and opposition. This will lead us towards backwardness. Everyone needs to come together and I believe that every problem can have a solution if an effort is been made jointly.
The fact is that till today, the lack of encouragement and finance is given to the research area. Though research in science and engineering area is okay, it is the worst in law and social science field.s There are prestigious institutes, universities like National Law University but in a vast country like India, I feel we need more attention towards research on lack of infrastructure and awareness causing serious problems. I propose ‘E-governance’ can be made as a research subject and topic because it has significant involvement in social, political, technological, legal areas. Now a day’s information technology ensures education through distance mode. We need young and experience brain jointly to look forward in this matter.
E-governance is not always the solution. We know the lack of maintenance of Government website or server security is a serious issue. So only digitalization cannot be fulfilled through starting a website and running it. It needs to be maintained well and updated frequently. Monitoring and cyber policing may be done. New inventions can be introduced and implemented properly to get rid of cyber theft, cyber terrorism.
We have the advantage of having information so we need to give back something to it by enabling updated security. Now we have a Cyber police station which is a welcome move of the government.
The main concern is that the general public is tech-savvy. I used to help a lot of people in the E-counter of the bank. So before implementing any policy or welfare moves, if the government can reach the public by discussing more with them about their future, it will last song and sustain. I dream of a country where we can provide maximum public services door to door. I feel that the maximum number of people do not know where and how to access e-governance.
That’s why the very purpose may be defeated if this goes long. In my law school year, I read about “let the seller aware”, “let the buyer aware”. I always feel a lack of awareness is the root cause of every problem. Let’s try and fulfil the theme- “Public services closer to home”.