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India’s m-Governance Policy Draft Tabled

The Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Government of India, has presented a policy drat for mobile governance.  The framework looks largely at ways in which the mobile can be used to provide government services.  With over 791 million mobile phone subscribers in India, the framework affects one of the largest mobile societies in the world.

The proposed framework aims to formulate guidelines around the use of mobile devices and enable government departments to provide services from mobile phones like paying utility bills or filing tax returns. It aims to formulate standards for applications for easy interoperability of services across multiple service providers and multiple Government departments and other agencies.

The draft proposes the development of suitable mechanisms to enable users to pay for public services through mobile phones, and develop and deploy innovative public private partnership and multi stakeholder partnership models for the design and delivery of mobile governance services. It also encourages the development of cloud-based implementation models.

It also proposes to set a Mobile Service Delivery Gateway (MSDG) platform which will be fully integrated with existing infrastructure created under the National e-Governance Plan. All ministries and departments will be able to start offering their services on this platform.

Draft e-Services Bill Open for Citizen Feedback

TThe Union ministry of information technology recently released a draft of the Electronic Service Delivery Bill, 2011 on its website. The draft bill says delivery of all public services, like issuing of forms and applications, licences, permits, certificates, sanctions or approval and receipt or payment of money, must be made available online. It requires the public authorities to disclose the services which will be delivered online within six months of the bill being passed by Parliament.

The proposed law envisages setting up of an electronic service delivery commissions both at the Centre and in all states to monitor the effective implementation of the system. The commissions can take up complaints from the public against the authorities who give any false or misleading information and fail to comply with the provisions of the bill. The commissions can impose a penalty of up to Rs 5,000 on the department head or any subordinate concerned for non-compliance of the law.

The bill also wants the state and the central commissions to submit reports to the legislature every year on the working of the system. The report should, among other things, include the total number of online service requests made available and complaints received under the grievance redressal mechanisms. As per the draft bill, all public services should be delivered through electronic mode within five years from the date of the new law coming into force.

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