Future of Governance (Virtual)

Estonia’s showcasing

The digital society www.e-estonia.com

Today’s governments are, for the most part, incapable of dealing effectively and justly with the complex global challenges of the 21st Century. Governance failures will not only cause suffering for today’s citizens, but will ripple through time, constraining the future for generations to come. Revolutions have recently ruptured decades-old systems of government in the Arab world, and widespread dissatisfaction is growing in the United States and Europe.

At the same time, new forms of governance are emerging amidst growing complexities in the operating environments of governments around the world. Collaborations across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors are fast becoming key nodes of delivering services for a citizenry with increasingly diverse needs, resulting in co-creation and co-production becoming more important in policy development and delivery. These emerging forms of governance require governments to transform the ways in which they operate.

Estonia’s emergence as one of the most advanced e-societies in the world is an incredible success story that grew out of a partnership between a forward-thinking government, a pro-active ICT sector and a switched-on, tech-savvy population.

E governance in Estonia means voting in elections from the comfort of your own living room. Filing your income tax return in just five minutes. Signing a legally-binding contract over the Internet, from anywhere in the world, via your mobile phone. These are just a few of the services that Estonians take advantage of on a regular basis. For their part, entrepreneurs can register businesses in as little as 18 minutes, check vital company, property and legal records online, and even integrate their own secure services with the ones offered by the state.

Interaction among government agencies, and between the government and citizens, has been completely transformed in e-Estonia, quickly making bureaucracy a thing of the past and making the running of all levels of government more efficient than ever before.

Estonia’s e-solutions have resulted in:

  • An unprecedented level of transparency and accessibility in government
  • Safe, convenient and flexible exchange of private, government and corporate data
  • A healthier, better educated population with easy access to social services
  • A prosperous environment for business and entrepreneurship

Our perspective

E-governance initiatives have been introduced globally to offer an increased portfolio of public services to citizens in an efficient, fast, transparent and cost effective manner.

All public services of the future will be offered online and citizens will be informed about what the government is working on as well as the policies they are trying to implement. Even elections will be conducted online. India is also proposing the same and will soon pilot in municipal elections in Gujarat. For the first time, the Gujarat Election Commission is offering the option of online voting, starting in October 2015 during polls for six municipal corporations: Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar.

The benefits for the citizens will be reduced avenues for corruption, need based, on-demand, access to services from any part of the world. Bureaucratic red tapism will disappear and governance will not be a hindrance in life and business. Democracy will be stronger and diversified and every community will count.

On the whole, it is a very useful change as it will improve governance. Some concerns may arise for privacy and abuse by the state, but both citizens and government need to ensure that enough checks and balances are put.

Gazing through the crystal ball

Some initiatives that individual citizens can do in institutionalizing e-governance is listed as under:

  1. Create Apps that collate available government data and services and fill the gaps in government digital initiatives.
  2. Actively participate in initiatives, debates and discussions that promote and strengthen e-governance.
  3. Use judiciary and parliamentary arm of government to stop any abuse of e-governance by the executive.
  4. Create complementary community portals to add value to the existing services.

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