E-Governance - Human Interface and corruption
The other day, when I was lazing in the winter sun in my balcony with a book, a delivery boy from the gas company drove up on hi bicycle saying that he had come to deliver the cylinder I had ordered the previous day. When I told him that I had done no such booking, he whistled off back, leaving me wondering as to what had actually happened. A week later when my cylinder actually got exhausted and I did book, I was told that since I had booked a cylinder just a week before, I would have to wait a bit. When I protested that I had never given a booking for several weeks and that some thing was fishy and threatened some no existent contacts, he said there must have been some mistake and just recorded my booking later on I heard that it was a common practice to make dummy bookings in others’ names and sell of the cylinder in the black market.
A couple of days later, when I was lying similarly in the balcony, the postman drove up. In a loud voice , he bellowed to my neighbor living upstairs that he had brought the passport along for delivery, my neighbor replied that he was coming down. In a booming voice loud enough for me and the whole neighbor hood to hear, the postman advised my neighbor that he should not come down empty handed but bring along adequate money for “sweets” now that he was about to get his passport.
A third story to illustrate my point. About a year ago, I went to the local election office to get my name written on the electoral rolls. I was told to fill Form 6. when I submitted that , I was told before I could do that I would have to submit Form 7 which would indicate my intention to have my name deleted from the electoral rolls in my previous residence. When I explained that my name ha been several deleted many years ago in Kolkata, I was told that I should produce a certificate from Kolkata to that effect. Looking at the sheer impossibility of it , I just gave up.
A few months later, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer Delhi saying that applications for inclusion of names in Form 6 were being accepted on line at their web site. I went off to the website, registered my name there, and a couple of months later when another advertisement announced that the updated electoral list had been uploaded, I again paid a visit to the site and saw that my name was indeed included. Subsequently I learnt that to verify the entries, they had used the services of postmen to verify that people really lived where they said they lived. Since then, I am sold out on the advantages of doing as many things as possible on line and reducing the human interface in governance.
E governance is o course today more off a buzz word than an operational reality. But even the small ways it has begun making its presence felt like in the booking of railway tickets or making important pieces of information available on line and making it therefore a lot more easily accessible to the common man is significant. Computer penetration in India is of course low and therefore it will still take a while for e governance initiatives to attain a critical mass and make a difference in the quality of governance in day to day life but even so, it is still as the old Chinese proverb say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with but a step.
Tags: Gas Cylinder , Passport , Booking , E Governance
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