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(reposted from the Global Knowledge for Development [GKD] list)
From: "Nath,V" <V.Nath@lse.ac.uk>
Subject: [GKD] Key Learnings on E-Governance in the South
Date: Thu, 24 May 2001 15:23:42 +0100
Dear GKD Colleagues,
Greetings from Digital Governance and Knownet Initiative.
I take this opportunity to share some Key Learnings on E-Governance in the South which we experienced over the last month through our Digital Governance project at http://www.digitalgovernance.org
1. A key learning which is emerging from the synthesis of various e-governance models is that there is a substantial difference between e-Governance models of North and South - in terms of application, utility and impact. The Northern e-Governance models offer more interaction between Citizens and the Governance mechanisms, and many of them are oriented towards improving the Efficiency of governance tasks currently being done through other means Notable tasks are - filing of taxes online, e-polls, applying for Goverment jobs. Some example of such websites are: US : First Gov at http://www.firstgov.gov ; UK Online Government at http://www.ukonline.gov.uk
The Southern models are however creating communication channels between Individuals and Governance mechanisms where none existed earlier- as such they are very more targeted towards sharing of basic information to bridge the knowledge gap. These difference in operating conditions therefore yield different impacts.
2. Connectivity will continue to be a major hurdle for developing countries. Further, the information requirements relating to local governance mechanisms are of greater importance to people in South and therefore localised e-governance / tele-centred based models which do not require individual connectivity are becoming more widespread and useful.
For example: the Gyandoot project of Madhya Pradesh government in India (to fund rural networked cyberkiosks through panchayats in backward district Dhar to offer villagers a range of services through an Intranet based at the district headquarters) is creating spaces for local people to gain more local -level information and interact within the sphere where decisions directly affecting them are taken. Complaints to government officials about non-functional handpumps are made through this system. http://www.gyandoot.net/gyandoot/intranet.html
3. In terms of e-governance impacts, the differences are largely because of the levels of awareness and information of an individual with regards to the governance mechanisms or about processes which concern him/ her directly. A simple example may be the case of individual property rights- the information about which is more readily available in the North whereas they are poorly defined in the South. Therefore, any information relating to property rights which become accessible through the use of ICT is bound to have a cascade effect for individuals as well as the selected group who were privy to such information. ICT impact in South is more closely linked to the distribution of power which occurs when information becomes equitably accessible.
4. The analysis of Southern e-governance Models reveal that the Government response to locally-initiated models is often in form of a resistance to the free flow of information in all directions. They realise the potential of ICT to shift the power from State to Citizen. Many of the e-governance models in South therefore take time to emerge, have to face stiff initial resistance, have to maintain a low profile or have to operate under cover. The most notable among such e-governance models are the ones that highlight corruption data or human rights violations. Further, the Government action in such cases is often hard-lined (in absence of precedence) and falls in the domain of infringement of privacy or violation of right to express oneself.
For example: The Bangladesh Human Rights Portal which met instant initial opposition due to the nature of the content. http://www.banglarights.net/
DigitalGovernance.org functions on a continuous learning mode and there are many more learnings which we have not circulated in this e-letter. More knowledge products would be brought into light in the free automated updates. You may subscribe to these updates by sending a blank email to email@example.com
I welcome your intellectual contributions and feedforward about the DigitalGovernance.org Project to further enrich this website and to catalyse Innovative E-Governance in South.
Lastly, Please help spread the word around about this initiative.
Inlaks Fellow 2000-1, London School of Economics, UK
Home Page : http://www.vikasnath.org
Innovator, KnowNet Initiative and Digital Governance
Conceiver, DevNetJobs, http://www.devnetjobs.org
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org or V.Nath@lse.ac.uk
Phone: + 44 (0) 7887 920080
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