Transforming Rural Governance

e-Panchayat is an important mission mode project included in the National e-Governance Plan of the Government of India to address the main challenges facing the villages, which include the lack of reliable communication infrastructure, delay in delivery of services to citizens and lack of monitoring mechanisms for rural development schemes.  This is in line with the government’s goal of empowering the grassroots democratic institutions.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is a major instrument towards achieving this objective. ICT not only makes the information accessible but also reduces the delay in time taken in service delivery, besides bringing in transparent and efficient governance. The rural India, as compared to urban India is marked by a lack of regular supply of electricity and poor connectivity, which makes one doubt about the success of e-Panchayats. Although, the Government of India plans to provide all the village Panchayats with broadband connectivity by 2012, we are still very far from this goal.

However, in this grim scenario, we have some shining examples of successful implementation of ICT for empowering the lowest rung of administration. Some of these examples include e-Panchayats in Andhra Pradesh (AP), which began as a pilot project to computerise the functions of Panchayat in a village near Hyderabad, and is now being extended to other villages in Andhra Pradesh. PriaSoft implementation in Orissa is another successful example, where the Panchayati Raj Institutions Accounting Software is being used to monitor the accounts of the village Panchayats. There are numerous such accomplishments and to continue this successful trend of e-Panchayat implementation, there is an urgent need to percolate the benefits of e-Governance and IT to the government employees at the village level and among the rural masses. Rightly, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India, is carrying out a massive capacity building programme in e-Literacy for the Panchayat members. Dr Sudhir Krishna, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, in an exclusive interview with e-Gov, informed that the Government is focusing on the computer literacy of the three million Panchayat members in the country.

In this edition of e-Gov magazine we also bring to our readers the excerpts from the interaction with two young and dynamic key government representatives from India and France. We have the Chief Minister of Meghalaya State, Dr Mukul Sangma, talking to us on how he intends to use ICT for governance and development.  On the other hand, we have His Excellency, Jerome Bonnafont sharing his thoughts on how he evaluates India’s e-Governance journey. We hope you enjoy reading this edition of e-Gov magazine.