India's largest software company, TCS has called for raising public spending on e-governance projects in the country to 3 per cent of the annual GDP. In a white paper released in New Delhi, Tata Consultancy Services has identified opportunities for improvement in e-governance in India and provided recommendations to help the Indian government can drive forward a programme for comprehensive and effective e-governance in the country.
In this white paper TCS has used its experience in e-governance projects to define a road-map for India and highlight current impediments like a silo-based approach that is limiting the benefits of technology use.
The paper also highlights India's low position in global e-governance rankings, and the need to catalyse policy decisions to improve the quality of e-governance in India. The software giant points out, for instance, that India's per capita public sector IT spending is $1.29, compared to $199 in New Zealand and $153 in Singapore.
It has suggested a five-point plan towards building, what it calls, an ideal e-governance framework in India:
1. A nationwide mandate to allocate a fixed percentage (~3%) of the annual budget for e-governance projects
2. The need to adopt an integrated and holistic approach focused on services
3. National level oversight of any e-governance programme and thereby move from individualised e-governance to institutionalised e-governance
4. A fixed tenure concept where key government executives are appointed for the entire term of any e-governance initiative
5. A government standing committee to oversee national e-governance programmes
''If implemented properly, e-governance can be an asset for the un-served and under-served areas in India and drive new efficiency gains nationwide," said S Ramadorai, CEO and MD, in a statement. "While Indian IT is the envy of the world and is associated with some of the most advanced and complex IT projects globally, India has not fully leveraged its potential of IT and the expertise of Indian IT industry.''
Ramadorai added, ''According to the WEF Global Information Technology Report, India ranks 44 out of 122 countries analysed and ahead of us are countries like Barbados, Latvia, Tunisia, Thailand and the Slovak Republic. Therefore, there is tremendous potential for e-governance to benefit citizens exponentially and maximise return on government investments."
In the white paper, TCS cites landmark Indian e-governance projects including:
Project Akshaya: A technology dissemination project in Kerala providing IT access to the entire state by setting up IT centres within 2-3 kilometres of every household
APOnline: The digital gateway providing multiple services for citizens in Andhra Pradesh, anytime anywhere. The self-sustaining delivery model has generated employment for over 2,000 people, with over 1,300 kiosks in operation. Benefits include greater transparency, convenience, accountability, lower costs and responsiveness. It has also delivered an improved image for the government with major cost savings.
ITC's e-Choupal: Information centres with connectivity linking farmers to global markets. This initiative is one of the largest IT-based programmes in rural India and has transformed Indian farmers into progressive knowledge-seeking net-citizens.
Tanmoy Chakrabarty, vice president and head, of the TCS' new global government industry solutions unit, said, ''TCS has created a successful track record by implementing mission-mode e-governance projects like the landmark MCA 21 programme. It is due to the digitisation and total electronic filing system in MCA 21 that the ministry of corporate affairs has been able to handle such increase in volumes of registration of new companies as well as filing of annual returns seamlessly in the last two years."
This business unit in TCS will focus on city, state and national programmes to help governments become more efficient, drive down costs and increase transparency.
The statement added, TCS "is redefining Indian e-governance by helping government departments to think about IT in terms of outcomes rather than technology as an input. TCS also recommends that projects are executed as PPPs (public-private-partnerships) as well as competitively bidding for all projects and the use of build-own-operate transfer models for e-governance projects."