The Goa government must make its websites lively, vibrant and interactive
The grievance of the Goa State Industries Association that the websites of the state government do not function satisfactorily will find echoes among the other sections of society. The state government has not been investing financial and human resources for establishing e-governance. The commitment of the government to e-governance has been no more than lip service. If the government websites are dysfunctional or slow, how can the government deliver public services online? Better service delivery to citizens was one of the basic goals of e-governance. In the earlier times people had to run from office to office and go there on several days and pay bribe for getting certificates. The online delivery of certificates removed the government office from the picture. There was a time limit fixed for the delivery of certificates. So, while it brought transparency to the process, it also brought in the element of accountability for the officials concerned.
Time is flying. Information technology is changing the structure and character of governance the world over. The Goa government cannot just afford to be laid back on the progress of e-governance. It cannot take e-governance as a formality or as a nuisance and go on working in the old ways. The biggest lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic is that use of technology for all works and processes must be made pervasive in public and private organizations. IT is going to be the mantra for survival for governance in both public and private sectors. Today demand is growing exponentially for virtual meetings. Virtual parliament has been set up in the UK and New Zealand. The Goa Assembly decided to be paperless a few years ago. Today the proceedings of the House are uploaded on the Assembly website. However, the content management and functioning of the Assembly website is not satisfactory. A lot is needed to improve the content and facilitate easy access to various sections and to impart speed to the Assembly website. There are today in the world virtual conferences. We wish Goa had been technologically so advanced as to hold a virtual Assembly. Perhaps the Speaker of Assembly should lead his team to make the House website lively and vibrant. It is an Assembly of the people. If the website is lively and vibrant public interest in the proceedings of the House will increase.
The state government should not think of information technology as merely an additional facility. IT is going to be the mainstream in the government’s interaction and interface with the people. IT has already emerged as a tool for making democracy more meaningful, direct and strong. It is a tool that empowers people through information. It builds a dynamic relationship between the government and civil society. A regime of e-governance will have an active exchange of information between the government and the people. Old-type governance was more often one-way than participatory. The government took decisions and conveyed the same to the people. The larger mass of people had no means to give their ideas or views with regard to what the government had decided. In e-governance the citizens will get involved in raising demands, providing suggestions and raising objections to proposed decisions of the government.
It is common in Goa to see local people rising in protest against a project proposed by the government. E-governance can reduce the chances of such opposition growing by engaging all the stakeholders. The elaborate and time-consuming process of teams collecting or hearing suggestions and objections to a project can be avoided by quick collection of feedback. E-governance can thus make government decision making people-friendly, responsible and quick. It will help the state government achieve its development goals in a satisfactory and speedy way.
E-governance can change Goa’s non-proactive investment climate. It can improve interface with business and industry. The Goa State Industries Association’s demand of the state government to improve its websites represents the sentiment of business and industry. The Goa government is so laid back on e-governance that it does not have even any online interaction with start-ups. Nor does the government have any interface with potential investors for quick and effective response to