Models of E-Governance

Models of e-governance is an important topic under polity and governance in the UPSC exam. It is also a part of the science and technology section of the IAS exam. In this article, we have discussed the models of e-governance.

Prof. Dr. Ark Halachmi in his paper, namely. E-Government Theory and Practice: The Evidence from Tennessee (USA), has given five important models of e-governance, which can be used as a guide in designing e-government initiatives depending on the local situation and governance activities that are expected to be performed. These models are:

  • The Broadcasting Model
  • The Critical Flow Model
  • The Comparative Analysis Model
  • The E-Advocacy/Mobilisation and Lobbying Model
  • The Interactive-Service Model

We will now discuss these models individually.

  • The Broadcasting Model

The model is based on dissemination/broadcasting of useful governance information, which is in the public domain into the wider public domain with ICT and convergent media. The strength of the model rests upon the fact that a more informed citizenry is better able to judge the functioning of existing governance mechanisms and make an informed opinion about them. Consequently, they become more empowered to exercise their rights and responsibilities. Widespread application of this model corrects ‘information failure situations’ by providing people with the relevant information relating to the governance sphere to make informed opinion and impact governance processes

Further, the use of ICT opens an alternative channel for people to access information as well as validate existing information from different sources.

  • The Critical Flow Model

The model is based on disseminating/channelling information of critical value to the targeted audience or into the wider public domain with ICT and convergent media

The strength of this model is that ICT makes the concept of ‘distance’ and ‘time’ redundant when information is hosted on a digital network, and this could be used advantageously by instantly transferring the critical information to its strategic user group located anywhere or by making it freely available in the wider public domain.

  • The Comparative Analysis Model

This model is highly significant model for developing countries and can be used for empowering people. Essentially,the best practices in the areas of governance are assimilated continuously by this model and then uses them as benchmarks to evaluate other governance practices. It then uses the result to advocate positive changes or to influence ‘public’ opinion on these governance practices. The comparison could be made over a time scale to get a snapshot of the past and present situation or could be used to compare the effectiveness of an intervention by comparing two similar situations. The strength of this model lie in the infinite capacity of digital networks to store varied information and retrieve and transmit it instantly across all geographical and hierarchial barriers.

  • The E-Advocacy/Mobilisation and Lobbying Model

This model builds the momentum of real-world processes by adding the opinions and concerns expressed by virtual communities. This model helps the global civil society to impact on global decision-making processes. It is based on setting Up a planned, directed flow of information to build strong virtual allies to complement actions in the real world. Virtual communities are formed which share similar values and concerns and these communities in turn link up with or support real-life groups/activities for concerted action.

Hence, it creates a diversity of virtual community and the ideas, expertise and resources are accumulated through this virtual form of networking. In addition, it is able to mobilise and leverage human resources and information beyond geographical, institutional and bureaucratic barriers and use it for concerted action.

  • The Interactive-Service Model

It opens avenues for direct participation of individuals in governance processes and brings in greater objectivity and transparency in decision-making processes through ICT. Fundamentally, ICT has the potential to bring in every individual in a digital network and enable interactive (two-way) flows of information among them.

Under this model, the various services offered by the Government become directly available to its citizens in an interactive manner. It does so as an interactive Government to Consumer to Government (G2C2G) channel is opened up in various aspects of governance, such as election of government officials (e-bal lots); redressing online of specific grievances; sharing of concerns and providing expertise; opinion polls on various issues; etc.

After our discussion about the models of e-governance, we will now focus on the legal and policy framework for the implementation of ICT and e-governance in the country.

Information Technology Act 2000

The Action Plan endorsed by the Conference of Chief Ministers in 1987 had already

addressed the pertinent issues of accountable and citizen-friendly administration; and transparency and right to information. Pursuance of these issues, the Information Technology Act was promulgated in 2000. The objective of the Act is “to provide legal recognition for transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange and other means of electronic communication, commonly referred to as ‘electronic methods of communication and storage of information’ ; to facilitate electronic filing of documents with the Government agencies: and further to amend the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Banker’s Book Evidence Act, 1891 and the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

Both e-commerce and e-governance transactions are covered under the ambit of this Act, which facilitates the acceptance of electronic records and digital signatures. The Act, thus, stipulates numerous provisions. It aims to provide for the legal framework so that legal sanctity is accorded to all electronic records and other activities carried out by electronic means. The said Act further states that unless otherwise agreed, an acceptance of contract may be expressed by electronic means of communication and the same shall have legal validity and enforceability.

CHAPTER III of the Act details about Electronic Governance’ and provides inter alia amongst others that where any law provides that information or any other matter shall be in writing or in the typewritten or printed form, then, notwithstanding anything contained in such law, such requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if such information or matter is: rendered or made available in an electronic • form; and accessible so as to be usable for a subsequent reference.

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