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United Nations launches its E-Government Survey 2012

19 March 2012

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The recently-presented union budget indicates India is slowly moving forward to use technology for delivering social benefits to its poor. Presently the country ranks 125 on the UN E-Government Survey 2012.

With Aadhar and other IT applications, alluded to by the Finance Minister in his March 16 Budget speech, India has taken its baby steps forward in using technology for enhanced delivery of social benefits to its huge population of poor people.

There is however a considerable lot left to be done, a point borne out by the fact that even nations like Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Chile, Latvia, Colombia, Barbados, Barbuda and Uruguay are ahead of India in the e-governance sweepstakes.

Recently, in New York, The United Nations released an e-governance survey, “E-Government for the People,” that suggests interactive, transactional and e-participation ideas that nations can adopt and roll out to achieve better connect with their people. The survey is based on a study of government web portals of member states.

The survey ranks member states in accordance with an E-Government Development Index (EGDI), which measures the willingness and capacity of national administrations to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to deliver public services.

South Korea, with a score of 9.283/10 retains its position at the top of the list ahead of The Netherlands and The United Kingdom.

Denmark, the United States, France and Sweden follow closely behind, taking their place among the global e-government leaders.

While these countries are clearly the stars of e-governance, India, the world’s second most populous country, is ranked 125 with a score of 0.3829.

Israel, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, which have invested heavily on e-governance of late, are the new names in the top 20.

Findings:  The 2012 Survey shows that countries have moved from a decentralised, single-purpose model to a unified whole-of-government model for e-governance.

While European countries generally run separate portals for their information, service and participation offerings, the Republic of Korea, the United States, Israel, Australia, Norway, Denmark, and New Zealand are among the few that come close to pure one-stop-shop portals.

The 2012 Survey emphasizes that there is no single superior model of e-government. Countries at different stages of e-government development, namely emerging, enhanced, transactional, and connected, can opt for models that best suit their particular needs. Indeed, the success of e-governance in such diverse flavours shows how versatile the idea really is. 

"The increasing role of e-government in promoting inclusive and participatory development has gone hand-in-hand with the growing demands for transparency and accountability in all regions of the world", says the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr Sha Zukang.

"This increasing role makes it all the more necessary to strengthen development cooperation aimed at bridging the digital divide," stresses Mr Sha.

Clearly,  as the Survey argues, the power of e-government in ensuring long-term and equitable development for people has transcended service delivery, and is helping nations around the world develop and strengthen institutional cohesion and integrate administration and service delivery.

Yet ironically India, world’s largest democracy with an unparalleled need for effective and transparent public governance, languishes at the bottom of the e-governance table, among nations like Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

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