Forms: The need for ReForms

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Filling in forms is usually one of the most common and essential means for citizens to interact with government departments, agencies and other public sector bodies. Forms per se are quite important in the delivery of public services. M. Moni and Pratibha Lokhande in their article ‘e-Forms: Bridging paper-digital divide’ point out that paper forms remain the primary data-gathering interface with the citizens for governments. Paper forms introduce rigidity, logistics burdens, hidden costs and time delays to critical business information flow. Also, handling large volume of forms often becomes impossible resulting in fragmented work processes that duplicate work, reduce productivity, add cost and drain resources.

The role of e-Forms in this context therefore becomes crucial for the development of future e-Government. However, this depends on how the citizens perceive this. In fact, the way in which e-Forms have been designed could have an impact on citizens vis-à-vis public services delivery and the modernisation of the public sector. If the forms are badly designed, difficult    to comprehend and complete, and onerous in demands, the citizens would tend to view the services as largely unresponsive and inaccessible. On the other hand, if forms are well designed and able to be handled easily then there would be fewer errors with reduction in administrative load, and considerable efficiency gains.

In India, conducting of national and state elections is quite cumbersome, marked with moments of tension and unease among the citizens. The existing voting system in the country has several lacunas. These include exorbitant costs, system not being foolproof and secure, low level of awareness among voters, and Election ID card not uniformly implemented. Dhrupad Mathur, in his article ‘Electoral sector reforms: Developing mechanism for Instant Electoral System’, has advocated alternative mechanisms.

The issue of land registration remains ticklish and taxing task as ever. In the State of Bihar, the system of manually copying of deeds in the registers has completely collapsed and utterly failed. There are about 20-25 lakh of documents still to be copied across the State. The backlog is about 7 to 8 years. Presenting as a best practice, Nirmal Kishor Prasad in his article in this issue has highlighted the design and development computerised system to provide one-stop non-stop registration of deeds blended with task accountability as well as process   transparency.

As usual, we welcome readers’ feedback on this issue.

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