Promoting E-Governance in Panchayats (First Published in Vol 30, No.4, October-December, 2011)
AbstractThe Panchayats, the rural local governments of India, serve more than two-thirds of the population of the country. Improving management functions of those bodies for better delivery of services is very important for the well-being of the rural people. One important way of improving functioning of those bodies is through appropriate applications of e-Governance measures, which is one of the Mission Mode Projects conceived by the Government of India in the year 2006. An initiative was launched in the year 2002-03 by the Panchayat & Rural Development Department, Government of West Bengal for adoption of various e-Governance measures. Continuous effort since then brought marked changes in the functioning of Panchayats of West Bengal by adopting various Information and Communication Technologies. Those include computerisation of accounts of all the three tiers of Panchayats as well as making those available in the public domain through website of the department; delivery of certain services like issuing Birth & Death certificates, Trade Licenses by the Gram Panchayats; management of Property Tax by the Gram Panchayats; management of National Social Assistance Programme; GIS based decision support system; e-Procurement by the Zilla Parishads and functioning of the Common Service Centres as conceived under the National e- Governance Plan in collaboration with the Panchayats. This paper is an empirical report of the progress made in respect of e-Governance in the Panchayats of West Bengal and it also discusses the problems and challenges faced and the intensive capacity building required for adoption of e-Governance by the Panchayats.
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