Information Technology is a powerful tool. It’s a tool that we continue to use for great advantages in our personal lives, but a tool that is yet to be used extensively in our ‘public’ lives. In spite of its wide reach in our lives, we have not yet fully ingrained its use into our public and government affairs. The opportunity for it, particularly in a country like India is immense. There are many ways in which E-Governance can lead to a better digital India.
E Governance is the application Information Technology in Government Services. The most common form of this application is the linkage between government bodies and citizens, followed by the communications between the different government employees/agencies. Directly, the first form is the one that touches are lives in the most obvious manner. The communication between the government employees and agencies serves as an underlying aspect, the skeleton upon which the body stands.
If you think about it, E-Governance is something that most of us are already familiar with. It is common place to use the internet to file taxes and pay bills. We don’t spend time standing in the queue to pay for our electricity or other utility bills. We can pay it from the comforts of our homes, at any time we want. For those who don’t have access to internet at home (or do not know how to pay online), they utilize the 24 hour bill centers that are scattered throughout the city. I have paid my bill at 11 in the night, because I couldn’t find go and pay it in the office on account of work and some personal commitments at home.
The challenge over here is that much of these facilities and developments can be easily and quickly utilized by the urban citizens. More than half of our country’s population lives in the rural regions. Most of them do not have access to internet at their homes, or lack the knowledge to use it. This however does not mean that we E-governance cannot impact their lives. They too can go digital through something as simple as a cell phone. This doesn’t need to be a smartphone, but just an old fashioned cell phone that can send and receive text messages.
One of the pillars on which our country stands is agriculture. Farmers can now be helped via E-governance. One of the aspects which affects their crops and our lives is the health of the soil. Samples of their soil are taken sent to the government laboratories for soil health checks. Tests can determine which nutrients are needed to improve the soil health, and the same can be quickly communicated to the farmers via sms. Using only their registered number when the soil sample is taken, the information can be quickly sent and acted upon instead of waiting for days for the reports to be sorted and sent.
Not just soil health reports, but aspects like the right fertilizer and its quantity make a significant impact. With timely information, and use of fertilizer, the crop health is improved. In fact, why just limit ourselves to fertilizers? Other details like how much rainfall is expected, what is the day’s selling price of seeds/produce can be shared in relevant season, allowing them to make more educated decisions.
One important manner in which going digital helps us, is healthcare. From time to time, we all need to visit a doctor or hospital on account of some illness or accident. It is imperative that the correct information is available to the medical professionals to treat us properly. However we are not always in the right frame of mind, or awareness to share the same. If our medical information, like what we’re allergic to, the diseases we’ve previously suffered from, and medical background are easily available, then doctors can take more informed decisions. This will only be directly helping to people who have some specific medical history or allergies. However if you look at the large population we have, this can be thousands or millions of people who can be saved with the right information. A central identification details like Aadhar UID, voter ID, or PAN Card can be used to identify us.
This is why I believe that going digital and as a result E-Governance can help us all form a better India. This post was inspired by Intel, and its vision for a Digital India.