E-Governance and ICT Enabled Rural Development in Developing Countries: Critical Lessons from RASI Project in India

E-Governance and ICT Enabled Rural Development in Developing Countries: Critical Lessons from RASI Project in India

G. Kannabiran (National Insitute of Technology, India), M.J. Xavier (SRM University, India) and T. Banumathi (Kongu Arts and Science College, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-918-2.ch009
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Proactive economic policies combined with the ICT revolution of the past decade have brought about many changes in managing businesses and organizations in developing countries like India. The prowess achieved through this revolution has also led to exploitation of ICT for better governance and rural development. As a result, several ICT projects have been initiated to foster improved governance and facilitate rural development by appropriately linking public and private institutions. RASI (Rural Access to Services through Internet) is one such government-private initiative to promote e-governance and ICT enabled rural development. Our longitudinal research is to analyze the factors related to access to and usage of the services offered through this project in Erode district of the state of Tamilnadu in India. Data for this empirical research was collected through survey and interviews during two time periods (2004 and 2006). Our findings show that the project has largely deviated from its objectives due to lack of government support, non-scalable technology and ownership issues. Based on our findings, we provide a set of recommendations to policy makers and implementing agencies.
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Review Of Literature

We begin our literature review by defining the term ‘e-governance’. ICT, especially the Internet technologies, has changed the way how core activities are carried out in organizations and institutions. It is obvious that governments around the world are also in the pursuit of deployment of ICT-based solutions for facilitating good governance. Role of ICT in government has two dimensions. The first dimension is the use of ICT to automate internal processes of government and establish linkages across various departments. This is commonly referred as “e-government” which relates to the processes and structures pertinent to the electronic delivery of government services to the public (Fraga, 2002; Saxena, 2005). Perhaps, the second dimension of ICT use in government referred as “e-governance” is the ultimate revolution in bringing together all the stakeholders (citizen, private organizations, NGOs, research community etc) to link with e-government systems. Therefore, e- governance is an evolutionary and ICT based model that seeks to realize processes and structures for harnessing the potentialities of ICT at various levels of government and others for the purpose of enhancing good governance (Bedi et al., 2001; Holmes, 2001; Okot-Uma, 2000, Saxena, 2005). Although, the terms e-government and e-governance are used interchangeably by researchers, for the purpose of our research, we follow a broader definition stated by Commonwealth centre for e-governance: “e-governance is the commitment to utilize appropriate technologies to enhance governmental relationships, both internal and external, in order to advance democratic expression, human dignity and autonomy, support economic development and encourage fair and efficient delivery of services (Riley, 2001). Many other authors have also defined e-governance in this broader perspective covering both internal and external linkages through use of ICT (Heeks, 2001; Marche & McNiven, 2003; Zwahr et al. 2005; Grant & Chau, 2005). Probably, the next stage in use of ICT will be the evolution of “e-democracy” which refers to the processes and structures that encompass all forms of electronic communication between government and the citizens, such as information sharing, voting, polling, or discussion, thereby enabling citizens to participate in the government’s policy making (Gronlund, 2001; Kannabiran et al, 2005).

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