Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based projects/programmes usually suffers in terms of certain vital factors. Identify these factors and suggest measures for their effective implementation. (10 marks)

Mentor Comments:

  • It’s a direct question but asking about the issues and challenges of ICT, rather than asking about its benefit. So you need to identify them, factors involved and suggest measures to address them.
  • Introduce ICT and e-governance in your intro.
  • In the 1st part of the main body, mention some of the programs in the areas of ICT like Digital India, Bharat Net, NeGP, Aadhaar, tech in PDS, etc.
  • Then mention the challenges which accompany these OCT-based projects like low penetration of tech in rural areas, lack of skilled man force to implement these programs, lack of digital literacy, issue of infra and access in various parts of the country, lack of human touch, mistrust on tech, issue of privacy, etc.
  • Before going to the 2nd part of the main body, give some positive aspects of ICT. 
  • In the 2nd part, mention the steps that need to be taken for the improvement in these projects and effective implementation.

Answer:

The “e” in e-Governance stands for ‘electronic’. Thus, e-Governance is basically associated with carrying out the functions and achieving the results of governance through the utilization of ICT (Information and Communications Technology). In the last couple of decades, there has been tremendous growth in the usage of ICT for various sectors, schemes, and programs. Digital India and DBTs are the latest examples.

Some of the ICT Based projects:

  • My Gov.in
  • Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity
  • Digital locker
  • e-Governance: Reforming Government through Technology
  • e-Kranti – Electronic Delivery of Services
  • Information for All
  • Electronics Manufacturing
  • IT for Jobs and
  • Early Harvest Programmes

While they hold significant advantages for all the stakeholders, but ICTs bring some challenges too with them, during the implementations of programs. 

Issues with ICT based programs and projects:

  • No person to person interaction:  The main disadvantage of an ICT based project is to move the essential public services into an electronic-based system. This system loses the person to person interaction which is valued by a lot of people.
  • Easy to make excuse: It is often easy to make the excuse (e.g. the server has gone down) that problems with the service provided are because of the technology.
  • Literacy of the users and the ability to use the computer, users who do not know how to read and write would need assistance. An example would be senior citizens. In general, senior citizens do not have much computer education and they would have to approach a customer service officer for assistance. And also in the case of rural people, it gives scope for middle man, who distorts the information.
  • The resistance to change phenomenon can explain much of the hesitation that occurs on the part of constituents in moving from a paper-based to an ICT based system for interacting with government.
  • Rural areas are still underserved in terms of ICTs infrastructure and capacity building. As a result, ICTs have not been able to play their expected role in the development of rural areas.
  • The limited supply of electricity restrains stakeholders to fully utilize ICTs applications especially at the village and Tier 3 cities level. 
  • Issue of training: If villagers (especially farmers, youth, and beneficiaries) are willing to utilize ICTs based applications then who will regularly train them to acquire the desired knowledge and skills is a major concern.
  • Lack of internet penetration: The ICTs based applications need uninterrupted services of telecommunication and the internet. Presently, there are many patches in India where the reach of mobile telephony along with the internet is still not up to the mark.
  • Lack of content: The content part plays a dominant role, especially for rural farmers, artisans, and poor beneficiaries. The content creation (In local language) needs to be addressed altogether in a different manner to have a balance between rural and urban contexts.
  • With India carving a niche for itself in the IT sector, dependence on technology is also increasing. With Indians using the internet for all their needs, ranging from shopping to banking, studying to storing data, cyber-crimes have also increased in proportion to usage.

Measures for ICT based projects’ effective implementation:

  • The country should recognize the potential ICT has for its communities residing in rural areas and tier 2 and 3 cities. 
  • The policies, schemes, etc. should be equipped with the ICTs enabled the plan to avail the benefits of the latest technologies. 
  • To formalize the concept of Digital India for various sectors, we should have a clear cut e-plan or e-policy that guides the government priorities to adopt ICTs for inclusive development. 
  • It demands a proper understanding of the social and development priorities of various regions. 
  • It also requires a vision and leadership of the highest levels of the government along with a political will. 
  • It requires rationalizing how every ICT objective needs to be carried out both in terms of responsibilities assigned to government agencies as well as the continuous financial support. 
  • Access to ICTs should not be restricted only to the upper strata of the society but should also flow freely even to the lower strata of the society.
  • Government should set up Multifunctional Converged Applications Community Centres (MCACs) at panchayat and block levels to derive benefits from services like Tele-education, telemedicine, internet access, etc.
  • Today, Societies are transforming to information-societies by adopting a cashless economy, social network, and other communication mechanisms. Recognizing the present needs of promoting ICTs applications and cashless economy, people should be empowered by capacity building programs.
  • There should be an increased partnership between the government and private sector since the majority of the country’s cyber resources are controlled by entities outside of the government.
  • More investment in this field in terms of finance, skill training, and manpower is required. 
  • Explicit privacy laws in the country must be enacted addressing the concerns regarding encroachment on citizens’ privacy and civil liberties.

Information and Communication Technology has changed the world as never before. It has enhanced the human ability to communicate more efficiently and easily. It has changed the lives of individuals, groups, and entities around the World. The emerging challenges due to ICT need to be tackled properly to ensure that its benefits become inclusive for all and losses are greatly reduced to the minimum. The contribution of all the stakeholders including the service providers, users, and the government is necessary to achieve this goal.

 

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Dreamias
8 months ago

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Vishal Agrawal
8 months ago

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