Telecentres as a Medium for Good Governance in Rural India

Telecentres as a Medium for Good Governance in Rural India

Gaurav Mishra (Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT), India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7266-6.ch004
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It has been established in literature that “good governance” has major implications for poverty reduction, equity, empowerment, and quality of life. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is seen as potentially very influential for the cause of good governance. E-governance is seen as means to achieve tenets of “good governance”. E-governance addresses core components of good governance by seeking to improve efficiency and effectiveness of government, relationships with communities, businesses, citizens, and NGO/civil societies for better provision of services, accountability, transparency, and social development. In the beginning sections of the chapter, ideologies behind good governance are discussed because e-government initiatives are presumably embedded in the “good governance” thinking in development. The chapter also focuses on the relevance of e-governance as a means to achieve “good governance.” In rural areas e-governance services are mostly provided through telecentres; hence, the chapter also discusses the role and issues related to telecentres for e-governance service delivery.
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Introduction: Good Governance

Good governance is a term widely used in public administration, political science and development literature. Good governance has become a political and economic conditionality for multilateral financing and programs for developing countries (Brillantes Jr & Fernandez, 2013; Weiss, 2000). There has been increased focus on good governance which is seen as important by major aid donors (Moore, 2006). According to Hyden, (2001), improvement of the political setups of developing countries is seen as a pre-requisite for development.

Governance can be understood as the government’s ability to make and enforce rules, and to deliver services (Fukuyama, 2013). Governance refers to the institutional underpinnings of public authority and decision making (Grindle, 2012). ‘Good governance’ as a concept shows a positive connotation in relation to political systems. The opposite concept i.e. ‘poor/bad governance’ implicit a problem that countries need to avoid (Grindle, 2012). The consequences of non-performing government or poor governance can be wastage of resources, undelivered services and denial of social, legal and economic protection to citizens (Grindle, 2004). Poor governance can affect the countries socio-political, environmental and economic sustainability (Hellström, 2011). In literature, there is no clear consensus on what actually constitutes ‘good governance’. There are varied dimensions on the concept of ‘good governance’. According to Chandra and Yokoyama (2011), good governance should include a legal system that is effective, impartial and transparent. In addition, it should protect property and individual rights. The system should have public institutions that are stable, credible and honest; and government policies that favour free and open markets (Chandra & Yokoyama, 2011). Parameters, like, voice and accountability, political stability, absence of violence, effective government, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption constitutes integral part of good governance (Ott, 2010). Good governance definitions differ in the degree to which they imply particular policies or policy outcomes, for example, stable macroeconomic policy, reduction in poverty, openness to trade, decentralization, efficient revenue collection, widespread participation in development decision-making, or strong legislatures (Grindle, 2011). Concepts, such as accountability, transparency, participatory monitoring, voice, democratization, rule of law, access to information, social inclusion, women’s empowerment, and civil society capacity development have been used as components of good governance in designing programmes in various sectors like infrastructure, environment, health and public sector reform (Bhargava, Cutler, & Ritchie, 2011). According to Weiss (2000), good governance tries to remove two undesirable characteristics of governance: the unrepresentative character of governments and inefficiency of non-market systems (Weiss, 2000).

Key Terms in this Chapter

E-participation: Use of ICT by citizens to participate in various democratic processes of a country.

E-Services: Delivery of government services through ICTs like the Internet, telecentres, etc.

ICT: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) include tools which help in data collection, storage, processing, information retrieval, and dissemination.

E-Government: It is use of ICT to deliver various government services for effectiveness and efficiency.

ICT4D: ICT is seen as a potential tool to enhance development in a region/ state /country.

Telecentre: A place where ICT (mainly computer) is used to deliver various government/non-government services. Usually a mediator acts as a link between technology and people with little or no IT skills.

Mediator: A person who helps people to use services of a telecentre. He interacts with ICT on behalf of a person who lacks IT skills.

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