Introduction: Application of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the process of development is taking roots in the developing world. This phenomenon emerged particularly after the globalization policy in national economies in the early 1990s. Prior to that, there was a concern all around that these nations are being deprived of the opportunities for economic growth and social development enjoyed by advanced economies for lack of innovation in the field of technology. The twenty-first century is witnessing the information explosion due to the advancement of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) that affect human life. The changes in the ICTs have created an impact on the socio and economic structure of individuals and the society.
The twenty-first century under the impact of globalization is ushering in a major transformation in the political, social, economic and cultural spheres across the globe. The resultant effect is change and innovation in public service management. Concerns are being raised about enhancing the capacity and effectiveness of administration. Public Administration, traditionally speaking, has always had the major obligation of promoting public interest and of assuring equity, representatives, and responsiveness to the citizens. The Excessive reliance of public administration on bureaucracy, hierarchy, rules, and regulations has, in course of time, raised significant questions of its capacity to deliver. In a democratic polity, citizens expect speedy and transparent delivery of public services. The Public services are delivered to the citizen through ministries, departments, agencies, and bodies.
Therefore, at this time, it is very essential to the government to aggressively promote the pervasive use of Information Technology (LT) / e-Governance in its administrative processes and procedures for achieving higher levels of efficiency and competitiveness in delivery of services.
Concept of ICT:
Information technology is also known as Information and Communication(s) Technology (ICT) and Infocomm1 is concerned with the use of technology in managing and processing information, especially in organizations. ICT is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems, etc. The various services and applications associated with them, including video conferencing and distance learning. ICTs are often considered in a particular context, such as ICTs in education, health care, libraries, etc.
There no universally accepted the definition of ICTs because the applications and technology involved are constantly changing. The changes take place so fast that it is very difficult to cope up with. ICTs deal with digital data and the ways of storing, retrieval, transmission and receiving. More importantly ICTs deal with the ways these concepts work when put together. The C in ICT stands for communication of data through electronic means. This is achieved by the use of networks connecting different hardware to send and receive data like personal computers, digital television, etc. Networks are further divided into Local Area Networks (LAN) usually linked within an office building and Wide Area Network (WAN). A very common example of the WAN is the internet which is connected over a vast distance.
Defining ICTs, in a world where every day a new ICT device or technology is invented is difficult. There are many definitions of ICTs which include electronic networks – embodying complex hardware and software – linked by a vast array of technical protocols. ICTs are embedded in networks and services that affect the local and global accumulation and flows of public and private knowledge2. ICTs cover Internet Service Provision, Telecommunication equipment and services, Information Technology (IT) equipment and services, Media and Broadcasting, Libraries and Documentation Centres, Commercial information providers, Network-based information services, and other related information and communication activities.
Characteristics of ICT:
Some consider ICTs and IT as the same type of technology. For example, Foster3 defines iT as ‘the group of technologies that are revolutionizing the handling of information’ and embodies a convergence of interest between electronics, computing, and communication. Chowdhury4 states that ICTs encompass technologies that can process different kinds of information (voice, video, audio, text, and data) and propitiates different forms of communications among human agents, among humans and information systems, and among information systems. They are about capturing, storing, processing, sharing, displaying, protecting, and managing information. There are four characteristics which describe the modem ICTs viz., Interactivity: for the first time ICTs are effective two-way communication technologies; Permanent availability: the new ICTs are available 24 hours a day; Global reach: geographic distances hardly matter anymore; and Reduced costs for many: relative costs of communication have shrunk to a fraction of previous values.5 The application of ICT in Indian Administration has been reshaping and redefining administration constantly. It served as a powerful tool in strengthening the capability of the governance not only by ensuring transparency, accountability, and responsibility but also empowering citizen by involving in the decision making the process through various e-Governance tools. Mere adoption of ICT will not strengthen the administration in providing better services to the people. But it depends upon what capacity and capability do we have and how efficient they are being used and how effective the policies are. IT (Information Technology) includes hardware, software, telecommunications, database management, and other information processing technologies used in computer-based information systems. The management of information systems and technologies is important for managers, business professionals, and other knowledge works.
The effective use of ICT services in government administration has greatly enhanced existing efficiencies, drive down communication costs, and increase transparency in the functioning of various departments. It has also given citizens easy access to tangible benefits, be it through simple applications such as online form filling, bill sourcing, and payments, or complex applications like distance education and telemedicine. Information Technology provides unlimited opportunities by introducing an element of transparency, accountability, convenience, and effectiveness in governance, thereby making major enhancement in the delivery of services and improving performance. IT can streamline the processes to meet deadlines, compile information at a fast rate and provide the necessary tools to the administration for monitoring, planning, and control. It also possesses the capability to provide a networked solution wherein there are no geographical boundaries and the entire treasury system, with all its linkages, works as a single virtual office. In this 2l’ century application of ICT in various fields plays a very dominant role. The government started to use this tool to achieve SMART government. In Indian Administration application of ICT plays a prominent role. Many e-Governance projects have been undertaken in Indian Administration.
New Information Logic to Governance:
Information is critical to understanding the structure, functions, processes, and policy-making of a government. Flows of information establish relationships between government and citizen, the executive branch and legislative, , bureaucrat and politician. Information is the lifeblood of public governance; perhaps it is the most revolutionary aspect of present-day communication technologies. The industrial age is being superseded by an information age’ in which ‘knowledge workers’ and ‘information labour’ are playing a key role not only in shaping people’s lives but also the global economy. Information and communication are at the center of this new economic revolution, bringing in new flexibilities into the workplace, pushing aside the numerous functions associated with bureaucratic forms of organization. The interpretation of changes in contemporary societies has been mirrored by analyses of the emerging ‘information society’6. Although there are numerous references to the `information society’, little has been said or written on the information age from the perspective of governance.
The ICT revolution has changed the world as never before. Information superhighways are bringing about profound changes in the way people work, learn and live. According to The Economist, “after e-commerce and e-business, the next big thing will be e-governance”7. A new terminology emerged in the academics and society viz., ‘IT & administration’, ‘e-government’, `e-governance’, ‘e-citizen’ and lastly e-society. Advances in ICT offer potential benefits to governance. For instance, the increased performance and availability at a reduced cost of microelectronics, fiber optics, voice, and video compression, fast-packet switching and high — density storage technology could be utilized to make public administration more efficient.
Technology convergence on account of digitalization, wide bandwidth transmission, and compression technologies offer public services to the citizens at a reduced cost and in less time. Real democratic governance could be fostered when a country has access to a much greater diversity of communication sources and network designs. ICT promotes good governance in three basic ways:8 a) By increasing transparency, information, and accountability b) By facilitating accurate decision-making and public participation and c) By enhancing efficiency in the delivery of public goods and services. Ultimately, governance through the means of ICTs can pave the path for ‘good governance’.
ICT and Administration:
The twenty-first century is witnessing the information explosion due to the advancement of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) that affect human life. The changes in the ICTs have created an impact on the socio and economic structure of individuals and society. ICTs used as a means for development including Rural Development. Though there are divergent and contrary views in the use of ICTs to alleviate poverty, ICTs help in fighting poverty and its ill effects. ICTs provide developing nations unprecedented opportunities to meet vital development goals such as poverty reduction, basic health care, and education far more effectively than ever before9. Use of ICTs in rural areas for enhancing agricultural production could prove immensely beneficial as most of the poor live in rural areas. Moreover, its use in educating the rural communities not only gives them a voice but also improve prospects of employment and social security.
Governance consists of the traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised. This includes the processes by which governments are selected, monitored and replaced; the capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies; and the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them. Governance in any society aims to ensure this through the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority. It basically strives to establish a quality relationship between the government and citizens. In the simplest terms, governance relates to the effective management of the affairs of a country at all levels; Guarantee its territorial integrity; and secure the safety and overall welfare of its people. Governance, when looked at from a wider context, encompasses not just government, but state, society, and good government. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, ‘Governance’ is the process through which decisions are made and implemented. One of the first international organizations to use the term ‘governance’ was the World Bank (1992), which defined governance as having three distinct aspects-
- The form of a political regime (Parliamentary or Presidential, Military or Civilian, Authoritarian or Democratic)
- The processes by which authority is exercised in the management of countries economic and social resources.
- The capacity of governments to design, formulate and implement policies and in general, to discharge governmental functions (Mick Moore, 1993:3)10.
Governance basically focuses on the process of governing, involving interactions between various formal and informal institutions as well as influencing the policies and decisions that concern public lives. Good Governance is associated more with efficient and effective administration in a democratic framework, certain distinct features of governance, which includes transparency, accountability, responsiveness, participation, co-operation between state and non-state actors characterize Good Governance (Anil Dutta Mishra, 2010: 160)11.
With regard to the LTNDP, good governance is described as:
“being among other things participatory, transparent and accountable. It is also effective and equitable. And it promotes the rule of law fairly. Good governance ensures that the voices of the poorest and the most vulnerable are heard in decision-making in the allocation of development resources and that political, social and economic priorities are based on a broad consensus among the three stakeholders – the state, private sector and the civil society”12.
This definition identifies the attributes that comprise the concept of good governance, which are as follows:
- a) Adoption of a participatory approach;
- b) Transparency and openness;
- c) Accountability through assuming responsibilities for actions;
- d) Effectiveness;
- e) Equity and fairness;
- f) Endorsement of the rule of law;
- g) Openness in decision-making and concern towards vulnerable social groups;
- h) Formulation of the national agenda through a consensus between state, private sector, and civil society.
From another perspective, the UNDP lists nine underlying characteristics of good govemance13. They are:
- a) Participation
- b) Rule of law
- c) Transparency
- d) Responsiveness
- e) Consensus/Orientation
- f) Equity
- g) Effectiveness and Efficiency
- h) Accountability
- i) Strategic Vision
Various institutions, international organizations, and authors reported different indicators of good governance, but it is generally agreed that the quality of government institution can be evaluated by assessing the quality of governance. In this background, good governance calls for a more appropriate government with people’s participation and their eventual satisfaction. Even the World Bank has identified a number of parameters for Good Governance, like political and bureaucratic accountability, independence of the judiciary, the participation of religious and social groups, and freedom of expression and information, etc. Phrases like `reinventing government’, ‘mission-driven government’, ‘market-oriented government’, ‘service-first’, and ’empowering citizens’, etc., have been used frequently in India also. At best they reveal good intentions only. Even if some of these had been achieved to a reasonable level, there would not have been so much debate, so much of a crisis, so much of turbulence that there would be a need for `redefinition’ of the role of the government itself. The disappointing fact is that we have not been able to convert promises into performance and agenda into action to any significant level (Jagdish C.Kapur, 2005:120)14.
Good governance is needed for equity and enhancement of quality of life of all the citizens. It also provides a framework of democratic principles for just and honest business practices. In order to become a part of the developed global community, good governance through e-governance is a necessity in developmental processes. Emphasizing on participatory, transparent and accountable administration, it takes into its ambit responsibility for being accountable for allocation of resources to the poorest and vulnerable section of society and also acceptance of their views directly, enhancing the quality of decisions.
This Article Collected From:
Inampudi, S. (2013). Information and communication technology ICT and changing nature of governance: cases from South India. University.
- Information Technology also is known as Infocomm in Asian countries
- Mansell, R and R Silverstone, Communication by Design: The Politics of Information and Communication Technologies. Oxford: OUP, 1996
- Foster FG, and Drew, E. ed., ‘Information Technology in Selected Countries’, Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 1994. The book was accessed on 14.12.2009 from the UNU website on http://www.unmedulunupress/unupbooks/u1119iiluul9ie00.htm
- Chowdhury, N, ‘Information and Communications Technologies and IFPRI’s Mandate: A Conceptual Framework’ Sept. 18, 2000. htV/Iwww.*riorg/divs/cd/dp/ictdp01.pdf
- Richard Gerster and Sonja Zimmermann, discussion paper on ‘Information and Communication Technologies for Poverty Reduction’, Swiss Agency for Development and Co-Operation, Berne, March 2003. (http://www.gersterconailting.ch/docs/ICT for Poverty Reduction.pdf)
- Christine Bellamy and John A.Taylor, ‘Governing in the Information Age’, Buckingham, Open University Press, 1998.
- “The Next Revolution – A Survey of Government and the Internet”, The Economist, June 24, 2000.
- For a full length discussion on these areas See: Francisco Magno and Ramonette Scrafica, Research Study on IT and Good Governance, Asia Foundation, Manila, 2003.
- United Nations Development Programme, Information & Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) Strategy for Achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), 2005
- Mick Moore (1993), Declining to Learn From the East? The World Bank on ‘Governance and Development’, in, Institute ofDevelopment Studies, Volume 24 No.l.
- ” Anil Dutta Mishra (2010), “Good Governance: A Conceptual Analysis”, in, Alka Dhameja (ed), Contemporary Debates in Public Administration, New Delhi; PHI Learning Private Limited
- The Global Development Research Center (GDRC (e)) ‘Towards a Set of Urban Governance Indicators’, [Online], Available: http://www.gdrc.org/u-gov/indicators.hurd
- The Urban Governance Initiative, good Governance issues Report Card: Solid Waste, 2003; http://www.tugi.orgfreportcards/solidwaste.PDF.
- Jagdish CXapur, (2005), “IT and Good Governance”, in, Bidyut Chalcrabarty, Mohit Bhattachary (eds), Administrative Change and Innovation-A Reader, New Delhi; Oxford University Press.