E-governance and Transparency
A sea change has taken place in the way governments, both Centre and states function over the last few years, thanks to technology and easy access to the internet. It’s not that there was rampant corruption in the past and it doesn’t exist anymore. Corruption still exists but it’s not easy to get away with scams and corrupt practices today, because unlike a few decades ago when common people relied on newspaper reports for information, details of projects from funds sanctioned to amount spent to progress are in public domain for everyone to see. Social media has also completely changed the way information is disseminated. Today, you can access details of projects taken up by various departments and monitor the government’s work from the comfort of your home if you have a mobile phone. This change has come to every corner of the country, including Nagaland.
The government of Nagaland has taken a huge stride of late towards achieving transparency in its governance. The state government had, in the recent past, launched several websites, including Chief Minister Dashboard where information about various government projects and schemes in the state and its progress is provided for the general public. These efforts have been acknowledged in the national e-governance service delivery assessment (Nesda), 2019, that was recently released by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. Nagaland is ranked first among the north-eastern and hill states in India in service portal or e-governance in the report. It also pointed out several good practices the state had adopted, including online payment facility and single payment gateway for all channels, single sign-on unique ID, portal seamlessly integrated with social media apps, submission of service forms online, and apps for all available citizen services.
While the government of Nagaland has come a long way in terms of e-governance, it also has a long way to go when it comes to implementation of policies and execution of developmental projects and schemes. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report had revealed that there were many non-existent projects in the state, indicating that the corrupt will find a way to siphon off public funds if they are not closely monitored. E-governance may help foster transparency and make those in power accountable to the public if there is misappropriation of funds. However, the state government should come up with a mechanism to check if works are actually being done and not just on paper (websites). It should set a precedent by booking and punishing those involved in corruption according to the law of the land. Nagaland Lokayukta, the anti-corruption ombudsman, should play its part in taking the corrupt to the task and ensure that corruption, which has become like a system in the state, is eradicated. The state cannot break the vicious circle of corruption unless the habituated corrupt people are given befitting punishment.