the-south-asian.com August 2003
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Government to citizen (G2C) SERVICE DELIVERY MODELS
- An Indian Experience
Selected Case Studies and Lessons for Future Developments
M J Xavier
M P Gupta
The e-governance initiatives in India face the twin challenges of automating the government departments and taking the on-line services to the common man. While there are standard approaches available for the former, the later needs innovations to suit the Indian needs. Luckily there are several projects underway in different parts of the country that can give us some insights on the development of G2C delivery models in rural areas. In this paper we have analyzed eight successful IT projects in the rural areas, namely: Gyandoot, e-Chaupal, Inagriline, Dairy Portal TARAhaat, Warana, SARI and CyberGrameen. The lessons and implications for future developments are presented in the article.
India cannot afford to copy the western models of e-governance as it has more than three fourth the population living in rural areas where every second person happens to be an illiterate. According to the 2001 census1 742 million people live in rural areas and 362 million are literate. The sheer numbers and the lack of infrastructure in rural areas pose greater problems in the implementation of e-governance projects. The tele-density2 in rural India stands at 0.4 while the all India figure is 5 per hundred people as compared to the world average of 16. An approximate assessment of the requirement of financial resources for implementation of e-Governance at the State and central government level using the western models yields an astronomical figure of Rs 40,000 crores3. However we cannot do away with e-governance nor afford to neglect the rural masses. We need to use our imagination to develop innovative solutions that are more appropriate for our country and its people.
This article focuses on the Government to citizen (G2C) service delivery methods in rural areas. Needless to say that the government will require reengineering its processes, bringing about administrative reforms and automating the back end processes before an effective delivery system can be implemented. We shall discuss a number of case studies of successful implementation of rural IT projects and draw lessons for future e-governance projects. What is recommended is a collaborative approach involving the Government, industry and academics. Instead of looking at e-governance in isolation, we need to think in terms of delivering telemedicine, e-education, and e-commerce using the same platform.
The Dhar district in central India state of Madhya Pradesh has a population of 1.7 million; 60% live below the poverty line. The goal of the Gyandoot project has been to establish community-owned, technologically innovative and sustainable information kiosks in a poverty-stricken, tribal dominated rural area of Madhya Pradesh. The Gyandoot project was launched on January 1, 2000 with the installation of a low cost rural Intranet covering 20 village information kiosks in five Blocks of the district. Later, 11 more kiosks were set up.
Kiosks have been established in the village Panchayat buildings. Information kiosks have dial-up connectivity through local exchanges on optical fibre or UHF links. The server hub is a Remote Access Server housed in the computer room in the District Panchayat. User fees are charged at the kiosks for the services provided. Local rural youth act as entrepreneurs, running these information kiosks along commercial lines.
A local person with a 10-year schooling (matriculate) can be selected as an operator. He/she needs only maintenance, limited typing (software is menu driven) and numeric data entry skills.
The following services are now offered at the kiosks:
- Agriculture Produce Auction Centres Rates: Prevailing rates of prominent crops at the local and other recognized auction centres around the country are available on-line for a nominal charge of Rs. 5. The volume of incoming agricultural produce, previous rates, etc., are also provided on demand.
- Copies of Land Records: Documents relating to land records including khasra (record of rights) are provided on the spot at a charge of Rs. 15. All banks in the district have agreed to accept these kiosk documents. Approximately 0.2 million farmers require these extracts at every cropping season to obtain loans from banks for purchasing seeds and fertilisers.
- On-line Registration of Applications: Villagers had to make several visits to the local revenue court to file applications for obtaining income/caste/ domicile certificates. Now, they may send the application from a kiosk at a cost of only Rs. 10. Within 10 days, notification about the readiness of the certificate is sent via e-mail to the relevant kiosk. Only one trip is needed -- to collect the certificate.
- On-line Public Grievance Redress: A complaint can be filed and a reply received within 7 days for a cost of Rs 10. These can include complaints regarding drinking water, quality of seed/fertilizer, scholarship sanction/disbursement, employee establishment matters, functioning of schools or village committees, etc.
- Village auction site: This facility began in July 2000. It makes auction facilities available to farmers and villagers for land, agricultural machinery, equipment, and other durable commodities. One can put one's commodity on sale for a charge of Rs. 25/- for three months. The list of salable commodities can be browsed for Rs. 10/-.
- Transparency in government: Updated information regarding beneficiaries of social security pension, beneficiaries of rural development schemes, information regarding government grants given to village committees, public distributions, data on families below the poverty line, etc. are all available on the Intranet, which makes the government functioning more transparent.
Other services offered at the kiosks include on-line matrimonial advertisements, information regarding government programs, a forum for school children to ask questions, ask an expert, e-mail (free for information on child labor, child marriage, illegal possession of land belonging to Scheduled Tribes, etc.). Some kiosks also have added photocopy machines, STD PCO, and horoscope services. In January 2000, the first month of operation, the kiosk network was accessed 1,200 times for a variety of services. That number reached nearly 9,000 in July. During the first 11 months, the 31 Gyandoot kiosks were used nearly 55,000 times.
Each kiosk was expected to earn a gross income of Rs. 4,000 per month (50% from Gyandoot services, 25% from training, and the remainder from job work like typing). The operational costs are Rs 1,000 per month. Net income of Rs 3,000 must cover investments and provide a profit to the entrepreneur. In practice, the gross income has ranged between Rs. 1,000-5,000 per month; depending upon the skill and zeal of the manager.
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