Wired for Change?: Information and Communication Technologies Shaping Public Administrative Reform for Development in Karnataka, India

Wired for Change?: Information and Communication Technologies Shaping Public Administrative Reform for Development in Karnataka, India

Shefali Virkar (University of Oxford, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9461-3.ch085
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The recent global diffusion of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) has raised expectations for technological change to support socio-economic progress and political reform in the developing as well as the developed world. Much as been written about e-government within a growing stream of literature on ICT for development, generating countervailing perspectives where optimistic, technocratic approaches are countered by far more skeptical standpoints on technological innovation. In seeking to bridge existing gaps in the literature, this article critically examines the role of Information and Communication Technologies in governmental reform processes for development through the presentation of a case study based in the Indian State of Karnataka. The study focuses on a collaboration between the state government of Karnataka and the eGovernments Foundation (a non-profit private sector organisation) between 2002 and 2011, designed to reform existing methods of property tax collection through the establishment of a networked online tax collection system across the municipalities of 56 towns and cities within the state. Through a combination of both qualitative and quantitative data, this paper analyses the interactions between new technologies and changing information flows within the complexities of public administration reform of the given context and, in doing so, examines the interplay of local and external factors and relationships and their role in shaping the implementation of the project at hand.
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Governance, Government And Icts: A Conceptual Exploration

Since the 1980s, the accelerating pace of globalisation has prompted the growth of literature on how globalisation affects governance. This literature is comprised of a number of disparate “islands of theory” that focus on small parts of the larger question of the impact of globalization. Three domains of thinking have emerged as the most popular within development discourse over the past few years. The first is that of the ‘race to the bottom’; where national governments, locked in fierce competition to keep highly mobile capital within their borders, are forced into lowering labour and environmental regulatory standards and reducing spending on social welfare (Legrain, 2002). Another cluster of literature focuses on the growing importance of non-state actors such as Multinational Corporations (MNCs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and transnational activist networks. A third cluster focuses on the ability of international institutions to effectively support global governance (Drezner, 2004). While distinct, these different strands of thinking share one basic conclusion: rapid development is leading national and international actors to place tremendous demands on the state and its institutions, such as demands for increased accountability and transparency in political decision-making and bureaucratic functioning.

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