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Revisioning Public services for Third Millenium...

Bridging the Practitioner - Developer - User Divide

 “Before everything else,Getting ready is the secret of success”

Henry Ford

The beginning of Third Millennium witnessed a constant effort among the policy makers, development practitioners, industry leaders, and researchers; on the deployment of appropriate ICT strategies and solutions that can help citizens of developing countries get access to the government services as per their convenience. As a consultant and journalist, I have been involved in interactions with various stakeholders on the appropriateness of the services basket as well as the technology deployment for e-Government programs of various countries.  The interaction with various players has revealed that there is a huge perception gap both on choice of services as well as the delivery mechanisms among the policy makers and the users (This is evident from the failure rate of majority e-Government initiatives).

While government agencies have been overemphasizing on the services delivered through computer based systems ( the e-Government plans of various developing countries is a testimony to that), the users are grappling with the problem of digital literacy as well as low penetration of computers and Internet at the bottom of pyramid. The development agencies, and also majority government organizations have been pressing the importance of a shared service center or Telecenter2, as it is popularly named, as the panacea for all the problems related to the problem of digital divide in underserved areas. While the purpose of this paper is not to undermine the relevance of Telecenters or Citizen Service Centers (An envisaged under National e-Governance Plan of Government of India) in delivering high end public services, the reliance on computer based information and delivery network may be an ill conceived strategy given the problems of electricity, digital literacy and poor penetration of Internet and broadband in rural areas.

Ubiquitous Mobile Phone – Choice of the next billion at the bottom of pyramid
While the government agencies, development practitioners, IT giants have been grappling with the low success rate of their e-Government and ICT public service delivery strategies as well as choice of delivery platform, the humble mobile phone has silently sneaked in as world’s most widely used and fastest spreading ICT product among half of the world’s population especially in the underserved and rural users.

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Vikas Kanungo ( Chief Editor)

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