We celebrated the 20th anniversary of the World Wide Web with great fanfare on August 6th. What started as a single page (http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html) has now grown into a web of over 19.68 billion pages. The World Wide Web has become an inextricable part of the lives of billions of people.Such has been the fate of e-Governance in India. What started as the computerization of Government Departments has now grown into initiatives that encapsulate the finer points of Governance, such as citizen centricity, service orientation and transparency.
The eWorld Forum 2011 organized between August 1-3 at New Delhi saw the confluence of initiators & stakeholders of various e-governance projects. In over 20 thought provoking sessions ranging from Telecenters to ICT in Agriculture to Public Safety, Security & Disaster Management; UID; ICT Infrastructure, Data Centers and Applications; Urban Governance; Information Management & Security; ICT in Financial Inclusion and Citizen Centric Service Delivery, the conference unraveled the finer shades of various issues pertaining to eGovernance.
The outpouring of public support to the Janlokpal agitation and participation of the middle class and youth – two groups often criticized for their apathy to public affairs – reflects discontent against the status quo.
In the clamour for promoting ICT in governance, we often tend to overemphasize the importance of IT at the cost of ‘C’ – Communication. the dept management of modern technology by the Janlokpal team and virtual absence of a communication strategy on part of the government were extremely important factors in determining the contours of the ensuring national dialogue. In the age of Web 2.0, a very miniscule proportion of government bodies are utilising the potential of social media. There is an immense amount of work that can be done for promoting governments’ engagement with citizens. In this light, it is heartening to note that the Department of IT has released a draft outlining the Framework and Guidelines for Use of Social Media by Government Organisations. This will go a long way in establishing a uniform template for government communications. As Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria has said, “Communication is the real work of leadership”.