Abstract

The
purpose of the research paper is to determine the linkage between the
e-government initiatives and corruption in the Indian context. The study
deploys institutional theory framework in order to assess
the extent to which the innovation i.e. “Digital India” initiatives, have been
favorably perceived by users i.e. the citizens of India in attaining its
principle aim which is to gauge the perception of corruption, red-tapism,
nepotism, favoritism and cronyism in government public service sector.

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The
findings of the study are as follows:

·        
Users
perceive an increase in government inefficiency which is linked with increased
corruption.

·        
Users
feel that nepotism and favoritism have not been curbed post-launch of “Digital
India” initiatives.

·        
Users
feel that there is low transparency in availing government services.

The
above findings are based on demographic (i.e. 
age, gender, marital/education/job status) and non-demographic variables
(such as time taken, cost incurred, government inefficiency, extent of
favoritism/ transparency in procuring public services).

 

The
findings significantly state that “Users’
perception regarding corruption has not decreased even after “Digital India” initiatives.”

 

INTRODUCTION

Background:  Broadly, two streams of research have been
conducted where the role of e-government initiatives have been studied with
respect to checking corruption in public service delivery.

 

Stream
One:
It pertains to studies which are conceptual & theoretical in approach

Stream
Two:
It pertains to studies that are contextualized in developed & developing
countries. They consisted of quantitative cases or use of statistical
techniques.

 

Three
reference points for the research paper, emerge from the studies where the
institutional theory has been invoked to investigate e-government initiatives.
The three studies are:

·        
The
first study relates to the challenges (namely, political, social,
organizational and technological) encountered in implementing e-government
platform in Qatar. However, their study did not focus on how corruption may be
counted as a challenge to e-government’s success

·        
The
second study uses the institutional theory to probe the interaction of
technology, people and processes in ICT projects in India, South Africa and
Brazil to assess the challenges encountered in achieving the overarching aim of
digital inclusion. there was no linkage with the concomitant decrease or
increase of corruption on account of these projects’ implementation.

·        
The
third study is a Nigerian-based study elaborating upon the challenges and
subsequent causes of failure of the government’s e-government initiative of
electronic voters’ registration (EVR) system. The sample included only 12 users
apart from public representatives. And study did not leave implications for
corruption or institutional theory.

 

In
Indian context, four major studies hold relevance to the research paper in
discussion.

 

Study 1: Cross-country
comparison of e-governance measures in India, Ethiopia and Fiji where the
users’ perception regarding corruption in e-governance is gauged.

Type
of Study:
Empirical, Lacked theoretical framework

 

Study 2: Identifying the
e-governance success factors across 10 Indian states.

Type
of Study:
Lacked theoretical framework, views of public official & experts were
solicited.

 

Study 3: Investigate the
causes for failure of e-government projects in Tamil Nadu. The study was
conducted to assess the sustainability of the e-government initiatives in rural
areas.

Type
of Study: Lacked
theoretical framework, views were not solicited from substantial number of
users.

 

Study 4: studies the
linkage between corruption and e-government initiatives using a theoretical
framework where five e-government initiatives were probed.

Type
of Study: Conceptual
and lacked validity

 

Following gaps were identified
based on existing research in this domain:

·        
negligible
research to assess the linkage between e-government and corruption in the
developing countries’ context.

·        
no
study has deployed an “institutional theory” framework while appreciating the
successes and failures of e-government initiatives in a developing country.

 

The Purpose: To gauge
respondents’ perceptions regarding corruption in public services post-launch of
the “Digital India” initiative.

It
aims is to:

·        
study
the linkage between corruption and e-government initiatives using institutional
theory framework.

·        
Bridge
the identified gaps.

 

The Scope: The top-ranked
districts from “Best Performing Districts Per State/UT” in terms of
successfully utilizing e-government initiatives as declared by Good Governance
Week report published in December 2015, were surveyed using email surveys.

 

executive summary

“Digital
India” takes its roots in the National e-Government Plan (NeGP, launched in
2006) and it runs with the support of the Ministry of Electronics and
Information Technology.

 

The
“Digital India” initiative has three “vision areas” as mentioned below:

·        
digital
infrastructure as a utility to every citizen,

·        
on-demand
governance and,

·        
services
and digital empowerment of citizens.

 

These
visions aim to enhance citizen participation in governance, ensure integration
and coordination among the government departments and provide public services
in an efficient

and
transparent manner.

 

An
email survey was conducted to ascertain the impact of e-government initiatives
in combating corruption. Convenience sampling techniques were used to capture
the perceptions of the respondents in three districts, namely, West Delhi,
Chandigarh and Panchkula. The target respondents were those who were familiar
and had used e-government services. 217 respondents were involved in the
research survey whose perceptions were gauged with the help of a structured
questionnaire using a five-point Likert scale.

 

The
questionnaire had the following items:

·        
Demographic
indicators:

ü   job status,

ü  educational
status,

ü  marital status,

ü  gender and

ü  age

·        
Non-demographic
indicators:

ü  perception
regarding corruption in public services,

ü  extent of
red-tapism in public services,

ü  time taken for
securing public services,

ü  cost incurred in
procuring public services,

ü  provision of a
single portal for procuring public services,

ü  increased
government inefficiency,

ü  extent of
favoritism in public services,

ü  easier procedures
to secure public services,

ü  extent of
transparency in public services and

ü  grievance resolution
procedures.

 

Institutional
theory states that

·        
Institutes
adopt different practices and mechanisms to gain legitimacy & acceptability
among different stake holders

·        
Different
actors and factors influence the planning & implementation processes of an
institutional innovation

 

“Digital
India” is an institutional measure to gain legitimacy and trust of
citizens of India.

The
aim is to assess the extent to which the innovation has been favorably
perceived by users in attaining its principle aim.

 

According
to the hypotheses:

The
following will lead to increase in user perception of corruption in e-government
services.

ü  Red-tapism

ü  Time
consumption for securing public services

ü  Costs
entailed in availing public services

ü  Government
inefficiency

ü  Nepotism
and favoritism

The
following will lead to decrease in user perception of corruption in e-government
services.

ü  Provision
of a single portal for securing public services

ü  Easier
processes in availing public services

ü  Transparency

ü  Sound
grievance redressal procedures

Results and Analysis

·        
Gender
doesn’t have an impact on perception with regards to increase or decrease of
corruption in public services.

·        
“Digital
India” has been unsuccessful in changing user perception with regards to
corruption on the following parameters:

ü 
Delay
in services/ red-tapism

ü 
Increased
government inefficiency

ü 
Low
transparency

ü 
Time
consumption

ü 
favoritism
and nepotism

ü 
availability
of limited single portal services

ü 
inefficient
grievance handling

·        
An
increase in ease of use for availing government services online has been
observed.

 

All these lead us to believe that
corruption is pervasive in e-government services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Limitations

·        
Limited
sample size and demographic variables.

·        
Study
conducted in only three districts of the country.

·        
To
early to evaluate the “Digital India” initiative since its inception was in 2014.

·        
Limited
digital literacy among the masses, especially rural areas and incomplete awareness
amongst the urban areas about this program and its services.

 

Recommendations

·        
Incorporate
an expansive sample and include geographical diversity.

·        
Acknowledge
more parameters to access the rate of success of e-government initiatives.

·        
Permeate
digital infrastructure and digital literacy in rural areas of India.

·        
Evaluate
the “Digital India” program to know its shortcomings and suggest revisions in the
same.

·        
Ensure
simple user interface and optimize forms and process for people to entrust the “Digital
India” portal and avail its services to the maximum.

 

Conclusion:

 

This
study was able to decipher and weed out parameters that are responsible for decreasing
trust of various stakeholders i.e. citizens of India, public officials, businessmen,
in the e-government service system due to various forms of corruption. This research
highlighted the various demographic and non-demographic factors that did not show
a positive correlation to corruption despite implementation of e-government services

 

Therefore,
we can effectively state the fact that users’ perception regarding corruption
has not decreased even after “Digital India” initiatives. It is therefore imperative
that the process of availing e-government services be made more efficient and transparent
in order to gain the trust of its users

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