DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION OF POLITICS, DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE?
Digital transformation is the buzz word for decades now and the governments have led the charge, taking upon themselves, to transform life and business, through technology infusion. From the days of Sam Pitroda to the current days of Startup India, the promises of digital transformation have always caught people’s imagination and bought them favorable perception. Whatever little happened compared to the global reference point has been thought landmark in this country. There is not strategy paper / document to fall back to nor is there any technical blueprint that can be referred to over and over again.
Chest thumping cannot deliver results. Whatever happens in the area of tech with or without government facilitation is digital transformation in this country. Credit has taken the better off delivery. This is not the deny the commendable achievements in the field digital transactions / UPI, income tax returns, passports and like. The overall digital transformation in countries like Estonia, Singapore, European Union breaks numerous barriers, which we still seem to struggling with in an intractable manner. Persistent focus, clear goals, bringing in expertise and resources has made the difference. The enmeshment of politics, operational democracy and governance have created issues, which are not getting straightened, in the march towards a robust digital nation.
Every reasonably educated person in politics feels he knows technology. The level of technology being used by political parties, the less said the better. PPTs, video walls, online inaugurations, and addressing workers online are the hallmarks of their technology. They only adorn the government through the passage called elections. We then have IT / publicity / social medial cells, who are defining usage of technology in the most detrimental manner. Social media influencers are IT czars it seems. Tech in politics and politics in tech cannot take us much further. What will social media battlefield deliver for us? Will they traverse the digital distance from the present standpoint to GPT-4 for us?
If democracy is functioning of legislature in one dimension, the * minimalist infusion of technology* has not made it live, kicking and robust. The question/answer, debates and legislations remain as they were, the data inflow, its usage, analysis, improving process and impact in nowhere in the picture. Digital India is the governance in motion in the digital age. Besides couple of transactional breakthroughs, how much of governance have moved on to the effective and true digital mode, sufficient enough to have no offline mode, with no physical footprint can be debated till the time cows come home. Symptomatic it might be, but how many of political executive cannot work without a laptop? Or have 24/7 access to data of relevance? Strangely, it is pretty normal to find oneself not getting connected to a government server. The government working on a state of art ERP, ML/AI enabled, providing seamless service and aiding decision making, planning and execution is a long way off.
HAS POLITICS AND GOVERNANCE BEEN LOST IN THE DIGITAL WILD?