the-south-asian.com August 2003
Page 4 of 4
Government to citizen (G2C) SERVICE DELIVERY MODELS
- An Indian Experience
Selected Case Studies and Lessons for Future Developments
M J Xavier & MP Gupta
Lessons for Future Developments:
Lessons for Future Developments:
It can be seen that all the projects are developmental in nature and e-governance is incidental to the total developmental efforts in rural areas. Additionally, they are all self-sustaining. This proves the point that there is a very great potential for IT projects in the rural areas that remains untapped.
Only in three of the eight cases, namely Gyandoot, SARI and Cyber Grameen, the state governments happen to be the main promoters. Even in these three cases the funding and the technology have come from elsewhere. E-Chaoupal, Indiagriline and TARAHaat.com are purely private initiatives while Dairy Portal and Warana Project happen to be from the co-operative sector. The key lesson here is that what the Government only need do is facilitate and not frustrate the IT initiatives in the rural areas. More over, it is commerce that drives e-governance in many cases. The IT infrastructure set up primarily for business applications such as e-commerce, supply chain streaming end-up serving the e-governance needs too.
It is interesting to note that there are several parties that are involved in these projects. Three are financing companies, technology providers, Agricultural Universities, rural marketers, NGOs, Hospitals, Government agencies and co-operatives. These can be broadly grouped under three categories, viz., Industry, Government and Academics. Figure –1 provides a framework for Collaborative G2C Service delivery in rural areas.
Basically we need to have the citizens/consumers at the core of the planning process. We need to think in terms of the benefits that can be extended to the common man through these projects. People do not expect to receive these services free of cost. Once the people see value in the same, they are ready to pay for the services as can be seen in the case studies. Additionally, the projects should aim at e-literacy to build the digital divide. The information dissemination into the rural areas should empower the rural masses.
We also need to develop citizen-centric processes. Unfortunately the term e-governance, signifies that something is done by the government to control and govern the citizens. On the contrary, the projects ought to be for the citizens and managed by the citizens. The authors prefer to use the term Citizen Relationship Management (CzRM)12, a term borrowed from business management literature – Customer Relationship Management (CRM), to describe the G2C component of the e-governance efforts.
Taking a cue from the CRM literature, the projects discussed above will need to go a step further in terms of customizing the offering made to different citizens. Once these Kisoks/Portals collect the profile of the frequent users, and develop a Citizen Information System (CIS), it would be possible to provide personalized and customized services; such as reminder to pay taxes, insurance premiums etc. and provide advise on crops to be cultivated, savings and so on.
At the next level the transaction data including the health records, cultivation patterns and the use of agro inputs can be stored in a data warehouse for further analysis. Data mining tools could be employed to provide valuable insights about the on-set of epidemics, or pest attacks and take precautionary measures. When several kiosks get inter-connected, the best practices can be emulated in other regions. The healthy competition between different regions should result in overall improvement in living standards.
Additionally the Portals should also pave the way for linking the rural folks and their products with the global markets. There must be facilities to promote the local products, be it handicrafts or agricultural products, in the global market.
There are several lessons that can be learnt from the case studies..
1. Literacy is not a major constraint in implementing IT related projects. The rural folks are quick to adopt any new developments.
2. The Government only needs to be a facilitator and not the promoter – In all these projects the Government only had to make its information available through the kiosks. Keeping the information current and up-to-date will be the responsibility of the respective government departments.
3. It is not viable to have stand-alone e-governance projects. It makes sense to bundle the same with community development, commerce and education.
4. The projects can be self-sustaining. It is not necessary to fund them for long. People are ready to pay for the services received through the kiosks and the same should be enough to sustain and develop the project further.
5. Make education an integral part of the initiative.
6. It is a collaborative effort. Every project has several stakeholders and there is something for everyone of them – Government, Industry and the Academics.
7. Develop citizen-centric approaches – As the business establishments use customer relationship management techniques to enhance customer service, e-governance initiatives will have to practice Citizen Relationship Management.
8. Develop a citizen Information System (CIS) and customize and personalize the service offerings using the same.
9. Use data warehousing and data mining tools to develop early warning systems to predict the ,on-set of epidemics, pest attacks etc.
10. Provide for e-commerce facilities that will find global markets for local products.
In Conclusion, it is our contention that true democracy can be achieved through proper use of technology. We already have the technology for electronic voting. With the right kind of infrastructure and security systems, it would be possible to have the citizens participate on-line on the policy making initiatives too. For example referendums can be made on-line with citizens offering their comments along with the ballot. The on-line citizen engagement will bring about greater transparency in decision–making and will pave the way for a true digital democracy.
Prof M J Xavier can be contacted at:
Institute for Financial Management and
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