The Central Government’s Digital India campaign has finally borne fruit as India has climbed 11 ranks in four years to gain a place among the top 100 nations as per the United Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI). The latest 2018 version of the e-governance index released on July 19 shows India at the 96th position with a score of 0.5669, a massive leap from the 107th rank in 2016.
Denmark has emerged at the top with a magnificent score of 0.9150, followed by Australia and South Korea. Europe has been named the pioneer in fastest online services whereas the progress in American and Asian countries is slower but quite significant. Many countries lying in the middle-income and even in the low-income bracket including Bangladesh have improved their rankings considerably owing to the introduction of online services via emails, mobile apps, SMS/RSS feed updates. In fact, among the SAARC countries, Sri Lanka has surpassed India with a rank of 94.
The theme of the 2018 edition of the index was “Gearing E-Government to Support Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies’’.
What is EGDI?
The E-Government Development Index (EGDI) is a survey conducted annually and whose reports are published every two years by the United Nations Public Administration Programme (UNPAP), since its launch in 2003. Involving all the 193 UN member states, the EGDI aims to analyse the capacity and willingness of a nation to utilise e-governance as a vital tool for development.
The 2018 ranking provides a clearer insight into the fact that the ongoing wave of digital revolution across India has benefited the citizens and may pave the way for further ICT (Information and Communications Technology) advancements in the public sector. The Government has come a long way from the experimental launch of e-seva kendras a few years ago as the stepping stone of e-governance. However, it is not possible to make a concrete claim unless all the constituent factors of the index are understood clearly.
How Was India Ranked?
To break it down, the E-Government Development Index is calculated taking into account the weighted average of three indices, which cover the primary dimensions of e-governance, namely:
Online Service Index (OSI): The OSI evaluates different government websites by their accessibility and quality of online services. India has a promising OSI score of 0.9514.
Telecommunications Infrastructure Index (TII): The TII is measured per 100 persons of the national population with indicators like the number of internet users, personal computers, mobile subscribers etc. India has a notably poor performance in TII with a meagre score of 0.20091.
Human Capital Index (HCI): Considering the factors of adult literacy rate and enrolment ratio in schools, UNESCO prepares the Human Capital Index. Interestingly, India fared at quite a low 103rd rank among 122 economies in the 2017 HCI report.
Hence it is evident that OSI has played the central role in placing India within the top 100 of the EGDI.
What Does This Mean For The Indians?
In October 2017, AfrAsia Bank Global Wealth Migration Review adjudged India as the sixth wealthiest nation in the world. Now the positive leap in the EGDI rankings shows that there is a clear correlation between the national economy and e-governance, indicating the huge need for e-governance in all aspects of administration. The GST rollout saw the introduction of online tax payment which otherwise would be taking days to be filed and recorded. However, one of the key instruments of Digital India, the Aadhar Card, has failed to garner the trust of the public due to endless controversies surrounding personal information leakage. Also, some discernible hacks in the Defence and Supreme Court websites in the past few months have created a sense of fear about digitisation. Also, digital education must be encouraged on a widespread scale before more digital initiatives are launched. Thus, the Modi government needs to foolproof its digital facilities to actually effect technological development, not just use this rank as a campaign tool for 2019 elections.
The E-Participation Sub-Index
It should be noted here that India has performed exceedingly well in the E-Participation Sub-Index gaining the 15th Rank with a score of 0.955. This index denotes the participatory response of the citizens to the available e-governance facilities. It is aimed to assess civic engagement and ensure transparent governance.