AbstractThepurpose of the research paper is to determine the linkage between thee-government initiatives and corruption in the Indian context.
The studydeploys institutional theory framework in order to assessthe extent to which the innovation i.e. “Digital India” initiatives, have beenfavorably perceived by users i.e. the citizens of India in attaining itsprinciple aim which is to gauge the perception of corruption, red-tapism,nepotism, favoritism and cronyism in government public service sector. Thefindings of the study are as follows:· Usersperceive an increase in government inefficiency which is linked with increasedcorruption.· Usersfeel that nepotism and favoritism have not been curbed post-launch of “DigitalIndia” initiatives.
· Usersfeel that there is low transparency in availing government services.Theabove 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 offavoritism/ transparency in procuring public services).
Thefindings significantly state that “Users’perception regarding corruption has not decreased even after “Digital India” initiatives.” INTRODUCTIONBackground: Broadly, two streams of research have beenconducted where the role of e-government initiatives have been studied withrespect to checking corruption in public service delivery. StreamOne:It pertains to studies which are conceptual & theoretical in approachStreamTwo:It pertains to studies that are contextualized in developed & developingcountries. They consisted of quantitative cases or use of statisticaltechniques. Threereference points for the research paper, emerge from the studies where theinstitutional theory has been invoked to investigate e-government initiatives.
The three studies are:· Thefirst study relates to the challenges (namely, political, social,organizational and technological) encountered in implementing e-governmentplatform in Qatar. However, their study did not focus on how corruption may becounted as a challenge to e-government’s success· Thesecond study uses the institutional theory to probe the interaction oftechnology, people and processes in ICT projects in India, South Africa andBrazil to assess the challenges encountered in achieving the overarching aim ofdigital inclusion. there was no linkage with the concomitant decrease orincrease of corruption on account of these projects’ implementation.· Thethird study is a Nigerian-based study elaborating upon the challenges andsubsequent causes of failure of the government’s e-government initiative ofelectronic voters’ registration (EVR) system.
The sample included only 12 usersapart from public representatives. And study did not leave implications forcorruption or institutional theory. InIndian context, four major studies hold relevance to the research paper indiscussion.
Study 1: Cross-countrycomparison of e-governance measures in India, Ethiopia and Fiji where theusers’ perception regarding corruption in e-governance is gauged.Typeof Study:Empirical, Lacked theoretical framework Study 2: Identifying thee-governance success factors across 10 Indian states.Typeof Study:Lacked theoretical framework, views of public official & experts weresolicited. Study 3: Investigate thecauses for failure of e-government projects in Tamil Nadu. The study wasconducted to assess the sustainability of the e-government initiatives in ruralareas.Typeof Study: Lackedtheoretical framework, views were not solicited from substantial number ofusers.
Study 4: studies thelinkage between corruption and e-government initiatives using a theoreticalframework where five e-government initiatives were probed.Typeof Study: Conceptualand lacked validity Following gaps were identifiedbased on existing research in this domain:· negligibleresearch to assess the linkage between e-government and corruption in thedeveloping countries’ context.· nostudy has deployed an “institutional theory” framework while appreciating thesuccesses and failures of e-government initiatives in a developing country. The Purpose: To gaugerespondents’ perceptions regarding corruption in public services post-launch ofthe “Digital India” initiative. Itaims is to:· studythe linkage between corruption and e-government initiatives using institutionaltheory framework.
· Bridgethe identified gaps. The Scope: The top-rankeddistricts from “Best Performing Districts Per State/UT” in terms ofsuccessfully utilizing e-government initiatives as declared by Good GovernanceWeek report published in December 2015, were surveyed using email surveys. executive summary”DigitalIndia” takes its roots in the National e-Government Plan (NeGP, launched in2006) and it runs with the support of the Ministry of Electronics andInformation Technology. The”Digital India” initiative has three “vision areas” as mentioned below:· digitalinfrastructure as a utility to every citizen,· on-demandgovernance and,· servicesand digital empowerment of citizens. Thesevisions aim to enhance citizen participation in governance, ensure integrationand coordination among the government departments and provide public servicesin an efficientandtransparent manner. Anemail survey was conducted to ascertain the impact of e-government initiativesin combating corruption. Convenience sampling techniques were used to capturethe perceptions of the respondents in three districts, namely, West Delhi,Chandigarh and Panchkula.
The target respondents were those who were familiarand had used e-government services. 217 respondents were involved in theresearch survey whose perceptions were gauged with the help of a structuredquestionnaire using a five-point Likert scale. Thequestionnaire had the following items:· Demographicindicators:ü job status, ü educationalstatus, ü marital status, ü gender and ü age· Non-demographicindicators:ü perceptionregarding corruption in public services, ü extent ofred-tapism in public services, ü time taken forsecuring public services, ü cost incurred inprocuring public services, ü provision of asingle portal for procuring public services, ü increasedgovernment inefficiency, ü extent offavoritism in public services, ü easier proceduresto secure public services, ü extent oftransparency in public services and ü grievance resolutionprocedures.
Institutionaltheory states that· Institutesadopt different practices and mechanisms to gain legitimacy & acceptabilityamong different stake holders· Differentactors and factors influence the planning & implementation processes of aninstitutional innovation “DigitalIndia” is an institutional measure to gain legitimacy and trust ofcitizens of India.Theaim is to assess the extent to which the innovation has been favorablyperceived by users in attaining its principle aim. Accordingto the hypotheses:Thefollowing will lead to increase in user perception of corruption in e-governmentservices.ü Red-tapismü Timeconsumption for securing public servicesü Costsentailed in availing public servicesü Governmentinefficiencyü Nepotismand favoritismThefollowing will lead to decrease in user perception of corruption in e-governmentservices.ü Provisionof a single portal for securing public servicesü Easierprocesses in availing public servicesü Transparencyü Soundgrievance redressal proceduresResults and Analysis· Genderdoesn’t have an impact on perception with regards to increase or decrease ofcorruption in public services.· “DigitalIndia” has been unsuccessful in changing user perception with regards tocorruption on the following parameters:ü Delayin services/ red-tapism ü Increasedgovernment inefficiencyü Lowtransparencyü Timeconsumptionü favoritismand nepotismü availabilityof limited single portal servicesü inefficientgrievance handling · Anincrease in ease of use for availing government services online has beenobserved. All these lead us to believe thatcorruption is pervasive in e-government services.
Limitations· Limitedsample size and demographic variables.· Studyconducted in only three districts of the country.· Toearly to evaluate the “Digital India” initiative since its inception was in 2014.· Limiteddigital literacy among the masses, especially rural areas and incomplete awarenessamongst the urban areas about this program and its services. Recommendations· Incorporatean expansive sample and include geographical diversity.
· Acknowledgemore parameters to access the rate of success of e-government initiatives.· Permeatedigital infrastructure and digital literacy in rural areas of India.· Evaluatethe “Digital India” program to know its shortcomings and suggest revisions in thesame.· Ensuresimple user interface and optimize forms and process for people to entrust the “DigitalIndia” portal and avail its services to the maximum. Conclusion: Thisstudy was able to decipher and weed out parameters that are responsible for decreasingtrust of various stakeholders i.
e. citizens of India, public officials, businessmen,in the e-government service system due to various forms of corruption. This researchhighlighted the various demographic and non-demographic factors that did not showa positive correlation to corruption despite implementation of e-government services Therefore,we can effectively state the fact that users’ perception regarding corruptionhas not decreased even after “Digital India” initiatives.
It is therefore imperativethat the process of availing e-government services be made more efficient and transparentin order to gain the trust of its users