Is e-governance impeded by forces that push and pull at a young minister?


by Sanath Nanayakkare

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done the right thing and given his IT minister the portfolio of Law and Justice too, so that he can pull ahead on a path of least resistance and make the necessary advancements in e-governance applications without any bureaucracy standing in his way, Harin Fernando, Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure said on a lighter note in Colombo recently.

He said so when Sri Lanka and India recently signed an MoU for collaboration in the field of Information Technology.

The MoU was officially signed by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology of India and Sri Lankan IT Minister Harin Fernando.

"When you are a 37-year-old minister you get pushed over and people try to run over your head making policy decisions difficult. So, may be it's better to have a senior minister like Ravi Shankar Prasad to run an innovative ministry like the Digital Infrastructure Ministry. And with his all-powerful Law and Justice portfolio, he can bulldoze his way through, to implement right policy. I can't do that. I only have IT, "he said eliciting laughter from the visiting Indian delegation.

Turning to a more serious note, he said,"Since I came to office I have wanted to implement something like Aadhar Card in India which is much more than a centralized ID proof which provides solutions to many problems such as access to bank accounts, taxation, passport requirements, pension and so on. But bureaucracy has stood in my way".

"In this context, there are many areas into which our collaboration can expand in ICT. It will further strengthen Sri Lanka's ongoing efforts in accelerating e governance and public service delivery for its strategic approach towards a digital economy, taking into consideration India's success stories in introducing and adopting them at central and state level," he further said.

e-governance is widely accepted as a mechanism for transparency, accountability and the effectiveness of the public service including state procurements.

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