All across the globe, governments are embracing technology and e-government projects in the hope that these would bring about efficiencies and reduce corruption. But I am really not sure if this is happening in India.
Over the last fortnight, I have heard several complaints from people regarding marriage registration and getting their passports on time.
Take the case of marriage registrations. In Haryana, the government allows citizens to register marriages online. But then, they ask you for six affidavits (from the bride, groom and from both their parents), and six photos besides a whole lot of other details. I am sure people would be willing to provide these too, but the Web site does not tell you what the affidavit must say.
And if you visit the office of the marriage registrar, an official will guide you to a person who can help you out. His fee--US$179 (INR 8,000). How has technology reduced corruption here?
The case of passports is very similar. TCS has worked with the Indian government on the Passport Seva Project. But then, I haven't heard anyone in the National Capital Region (NCR) get their passport in three working days, as promised. On the contrary, it takes longer to get a passport made these days. While you can check the status of your passport online, it does not always help.
Almost every day, I get messages on my mobile that touts how these companies can help you get your passports made. And I thought the primary objective of the Passport Seva project was to eliminate touts and other middlemen.
Some of you must have read about the war against corruption being raged by the civil society in India over the last two months. But in the fight against corruption every Indian--rich or poor--needs to first look within. Whether it is the rich understating his/her income or a farmer not giving up his/her BPL (below poverty line) card despite moving up economically, corruption has seeped into everyone's lifestyle in some way or the other.
No amount of campaigns or technology can make any change, unless each citizen looks within and decides to consciously uproot corruption from within and from the environment that surrounds him/her.