ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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What Do Citizens Value in E-governance?

Reflections from a Property Registration Computerisation Project

While e-governance projects are invoked as critical in realising development outcomes, their conception and design are constrained by a focus on short-term efficiency gains. An analysis of the implementation of the Karnataka Valuation and e-Registration project reveals that while it has facilitated convenience and accessibility by reducing the turnaround time of the registration process, it has not reduced information asymmetries or provided assurance of the legal validity of property transactions. This is due to a narrow conception of e-governance which does not seek to alter the incongruities that exist in prevailing state–citizen relationships, in general, and the role of the state, in particular.

The authors would like to thank their interview respondents, as also the officials of the Department of Stamps and Registration, Government of Karnataka. They would also like to acknowledge the useful comments that were received from the reviewer(s) on an earlier draft of the article.

Since the 1990s, governments across developing nations have been experimenting with e-governance projects, India being no exception. Indias engagement with the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in governance has gradually moved from a mere automation of some of the governments internal processes, to using e-governance as a means to improve transparency and accountability within public offices, and increasing the efficiency of public service delivery models. With e-governance initiatives emerging as the avant-garde practice for reforming governance, understanding the nature and extent of changes brought about by them becomes crucial, both in terms of their immediate and long-term developmental outcomes.

Most studies on e-governance share a common belief about the instrumentality of technology in material progress and economic growth (Avgerou 2003; Prakash and De 2007). These approaches, with their preoccupation with short-term efficiency gains, look at the use and impact of ICTs from the vantage points of infrastructure, accessibility, resources and expenditure. On the other hand, there are approaches where local and embedded factors for implementing e-governance projects and their implications for development are studied from a more social constructivist, human-centred perspective (Madon 2004, 2009; Prakash and De 2007). Some studies try to combine these two approaches by disentangling the impacts of ICT use on development into a multilevel framework (Harindranath and Sein 2007).

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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