author proposes a new model of electronic governance based on the shared vision
and collaboration of all the stakeholders. This new governance model shall be
known as p-government or participatory government. Is p-Government only a new
jargon of words or is it really something different? Let us first understand
the concept of this new model of governance. What is p-Government? p-Government
is an attempt to apply the social networking and collaborating advantages of
Web 2.0 to provide more productive and effective processes for government service
delivery to the citizens and businesses as well as participation of the stakeholders
in the process of governance on top of e-government applications. Integration
of tools such as wikis, social networking sites, the blogs and RSS feeds etc.
can all help the government to provide information to people and provide a greater
role to the citizens by their increased participation in the decision making
processes in the government.
Recently, during the campaign and the election of Mr. Barack Obama as President
of the United States, the effective use of Web 2.0 technologies were made successfully.
On January 21, 2009, newly elected USA President Obama signed one of his first
memorandumsthe Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies
on Transparency and Open Government, in which Mr. Obama asked to ensure
the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation
This means greater utilization of Web 2.0 technology across all the departments
and agencies of the USA Government. A number of efforts is being made to present
the data gathered by the government agencies for mashups.
The government can utilize Web 2.0 technology, specially the social networking
sites for many useful purposes within the government as well as outside it.
Broadly, the social networking sites can be used by the government for the following
- To share information within the government organizations
and also for coordination between them,
- To share information also with entities outside the government.
For example with the citizens, NGOs etc.,
- To allow e-Participation and to keep track of the public
sentiments on issues in real time,
- To empower citizens by allowing them to submit opinions
online to reach consensus on government programs and issues,
- To allow collaboration with citizen groups of varied interests,
The p-Government can interact better with citizens using social networking tools.
The advantages include promoting social networking and collaboration with people
in and outside the government, increased agility and adaptability. However,
there are certain issues like security, privacy and other concerns that sometimes
limit the use of social networking sites.
Since Web 2.0 makes the p-Government promote e-Participation in a big way, hence
it is proposed to be known as the participatory governance or p-Governance.
Metaphysics of p-Governance
Every Information System (IS) is basically a generalization of some business
reality in a structured way. The functioning of an IS involves the inputs of
some data that is then processed causing it to change in some way and producing
meaningful information as outputs. However, when we think of an IS we tend to
forget its socio-technological impacts and tend to design an IS keeping only
the technological aspects which does not serve the purpose well.
The idea is not only to convert the existing government business processes but
also to improve upon them. It is not just the flow of information that needs
to be managed in the new system but also the flow of matter and/or energy that
essentially flow in the system. It is this flow of matter and energy that causes
the various patterns and behavior which affects the newly designed ISs and is
ultimately responsible for its success or failure. The flow of matter and energy
is derived from the flow of power in the government.
The author has been witnessing the successes and failures of various information
systems in the government for the last two decades and has been trying to assess
the roles and responsibilities of ICT in balancing the various subsystems in
the Government and particularly in the flow of this power in the form of energy.
Those who are aware of the eastern metaphysical theories know well that human
system have a subtle body made of energy. This subtle body is sustained by the
life force energy, what we also call the spirit or the Surat in
the mystic terminology. Now this Surat or the spirit life force
runs through subtle centers of energy, also known as chakras in
the spiritual mystic language. The human system is designed and developed in
such a way that the flow of this spirit life force or Surat causes
continuous stimulation of these chakras which, then continue to perform their
well defined functions in the human body. It is this sustained stimulation of
these chakras that brings about a balance in the physical, mental and spiritual
well-being. If a man forces his spirit life force too much on a particular chakra
for any reason willy-nilly then this causes a misbalance in the human system
and thus a man falls ill. For example, if a man is stressing too much on satisfying
his taste buds and runs after the various delicious food items so that this
craving is satisfied in him then his repetitive actions results in the enhancement
of functioning of his related chakra known as Naabhi Chakra. This
increase further results in the enhancement of the functioning of its lower
chakra known as Indri Chakra due to the excess flow of the life
force energy in the lower direction. This causes increased libido in a man and
results in the disturbance of the balance and normal flow of energy.
Thus the spiritual energy in the man is spent in wrong directions and it becomes
further difficult to achieve the highest objective of the life, also known as
Paramarth. Precisely same is the situation of the flow of the power
in the government system. The three levels of the governance, i.e. the Legislature,
Bureaucracy and the Judiciary as well as the fourth stakeholder in the governance,
i.e., the People are like the Chakras in our world system. The various
chakras of this world system have functional as well as structural relationships
between each other.
They have well defined roles and functions in the society and there is a sustained
flow of the subtle energy, i.e. power which runs through them all. If there
is any increased flow of this power energy in any one of these four chakras
of our world system then this causes a misbalance and a power struggle and yields
in some unwanted effects which ultimately cause to lose sight of the highest
objectives of the governance and harm human society. It is, therefore, essential
that the flow of this power energy is kept running through all these four chakras
as mentioned above and should not be allowed to be concentrated more than it
is required in one particular chakra. This requires the constant balancing of
this energy by all the four stakeholders, i.e. the Legislature, bureaucracy,
judiciary and the people. This is possible only through a participation of all
four in the process of governance. This is the basis of participatory governance.
Attendant essentiality is the understanding of the way as to how to get rid
of the increased concentration of this power energy in a man or chakra at any
point of time. How to get rid of this increased energy? The easiest way to get
rid of this increased energy is to keep tuned for letting this excess energy
flow out of our subsystem or the chakra. This means that we should be tuned
towards the provision of service of the lower chakra, i.e. the people. This
is the basis of the service of humanity. This will result in the balance and
the power sharing between the subsystems of the system as well. Thus it is required
that not only every man or woman but even the various subsystems of the system,
i.e., the Government, should adopt this metaphysical method to get rid of the
excess concentration of power which otherwise will cause only ill effects in
the society. This is also the basis of the government officials being called
the Public Servants. They need to serve the Public. Why? Just to
achieve the highest objective of governance and also to maintain the balance
among all the stakeholders of the governance.
Having said this, it is pertinent to understand how to keep a balance in the
flow of this power energy between the government and the people. What techniques
and methodologies can be utilized and adopted to achieve this balance. A good
natural way of achieving a balance in the flow of the power energy is to develop
participatory governance by clearly designing a functional system so automated
that once it is in place no one can affect the flow of the energy to its advantage.
This can be achieved only through developing a well defined antithesis of traditional
stand alone information systems. It should be designed using the ICT to share
the information and the attendant power energy with other chakras of our world
system. This shall be known as pGovernance based on the concept of participatory
governance. p-Government is clearly directed at creating a result-oriented government.
Formula for the p-Government: PG = PW + GI+ CI + KE
+ CB (Participatory Governance = (Political Will + GovInformatics + Collective
Intelligence + Knowledge Economy + Capacity Building) Where:
- Political Will means the recognition of the urgent
and impending need for a participatory form of governance to strengthen the
- GovInformatics means applying the concepts and
components of GovInformatics as and when necessary
- Collective Intelligence means the active role of
the peoples expertise in the government policy making and other processes
by way of public participation
- Knowledge Economy means the formalization and modeling
of the knowledge economy for creation and utilization of the knowledge of
the government employees in line with the government objectives and the goals
- Capacity Building
means specialized learning programs for the stakeholders, creation of communities
of practice, development of training modules and procedural guidebooks
The government of India has already taken a number of steps towards the development
of this participatory governance such as the enactment of The Right to Information
Act, 2005. The only need is to recognize this fact and strengthen this form
of participatory governance using the ICT. Govinformatics should aim to achieve
Worldwide, ICT-enabled e-Government development has undergone three stages of
evolution. Now it stands on the threshold of the fourth development, i.e. the
p-Government or participatory government.
Book: Electronic Information Management System and
p-Government: A Paradigm shift from e-Government: Reinventing the Government
through Govinformatics under the RTI Act Regime
Author: Anil Kumar Baranwal
Publisher: Bookwell, 2010
Price: Hardbound Rs. 995 and paperback edition: Rs. 495