Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Electronic Delivery (E-Delivery) Of Services In India Is Needed

None can doubt about the utility of Electronic Delivery of Services in India. However, for “Political Reasons”, this essential requirement has always been kept at bay for one reason or other.

Surprisingly lack of financial resources is not the real reason for non adoption of Electronic Delivery of Services in India but it is the absence of “Political Will” to empower the Citizens of India that is the real culprit.

For instance, recently the World Bank signed an Agreement with Indian Government according to which a loan of $150 million was granted to India for Electronic Delivery of Public Services in India. Naturally India cannot afford to loose this loan amount and as a condition precedent to get the benefits of such loan, Electronic Delivery of Public Services in India has to be ensured. Thus, the argument that India lacks financial resources to implement this ambitious initiative is nothing but a false claim.

The truth is that Indian Government does not wish to enact Electronic Delivery of Services Law for India. In these circumstances, E-Delivery of Public Services in India would still take few years as we have no Legal Framework for Mandatory E-Governance in India.

India has forgotten that the proposed E-Delivery of Public Services Development Policy Loan of India has to be utilised through a Policy and Legislative Framework that Indian Government must establish very soon. The E-Delivery of Public Services Development Policy Loan (DPL) Project of India would fail to take effect if either the Electronic Services Delivery Policy of India is not formulated or it is not implemented in a manner that confers Mandatory E-Governance Services in India upon Indian citizens.

In short, there should be a Legal Framework for Mandatory E-Governance in India that provides E-Governance Services to Indian citizens as a “Matter of Right”. If India fails to achieve this task, the World Bank is within its right to seek an explanation from India in this regard. Even the Loan can be Cancelled or Withdrawn by the World Bank in these circumstances.

To ensure E-Delivery of Services in India, Indian Government proposed a Draft Electronic Services Delivery Bill 2011 but it “Failed” to provide Mandatory E-Governance Services in India. If this was not enough, now the Standing Committee on Information and Technology has questioned the very need of such a Legal Framework. It seems the Committee has not been made aware of the “Mandates of Loan” provided by the World Bank.

The Committee is also wrong on at least two counts. The first apprehension of the Committee is that the proposed Law would not provide adequate time for implementation by the States. On the contrary, the proposed Law provided a “Non-Mandatory Mandate” for a very long period of time that can be easily achieved in the present environment and with the existing ICT Infrastructure. In fact, we need to provide “Mandatory E-Governance Services” in India that have been ignored by the proposed Law.

The second argument of the Committee that a separate Law is not required and suitable amendments in the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000), which is the Cyber Law of India, would be suffice is also without merits. By clubbing everything with a “Single Law” that is prone to “Constitutional Attacks” and “Litigations” is a really bad “Policy Decision”. On the contrary, the Cyber Law of India must be repealed and “Separate Laws” must be formulated regarding areas like E-Governance, E-Commerce, etc.

Whatever happened with the proposed Electronic Delivery of Services Bill is really unfortunate that only shows that our own Government is not at all interested in Digital Empowerment of Indian Citizens.

The only good thing about this entire episode is that another “Half Baked” and “Ineffective Law” has been prevented from being enacted that could have proved a remedy worst than the malady. I hope Indian Government would come up with a more Effective, Robust and Holistic Electronic Delivery of Services Legal Framework very soon keeping aside its “Political Interests” and “Inappropriate Apprehensions”.

1 comment:

  1. Very valid and significant views. I feel the critical item in this area is the Legal framework to support electronic delivery. Over casual discussions with my overseas colleagues, I had tried to gain an understanding on how the legal framework has supported electronic delivery in Europe and USA. However, none were able to recall any significant judicial cases and outcome. Would you be able share your knowledge on the operation of the legal framework say in Europe or even Asian countries such as Singapore?