In spite of the growing Internet connectivity, increasing awareness of the Right to Information Act and a spurt in funding for e-governance programmes, the digital divide between the government and its citizens seems to be widening in India. The country’s has fallen from a rank of 87 in 2005 to 113 in 2008 on e-government readiness.
According to the UN E-government Survey 2008, India has slipped 26 places in the last three years and been overtaken by countries like Maldives (ranked 95), Sri Lanka (101) and even Iran (108). However, they too, have themselves slipped from their 2005 rankings.
Sweden has surpassed the United States as the leader in the overall E-readiness index, with Denmark, Norway coming in second and third respectively. The US slipped to fourth place.
Pakistan and Bangladesh have both improved, climbing to 131(from 136) and 142 (from 162) respectively.
The fourth edition of the UN survey measures the progress made by various member states in drawing and implementing e-government policies to improve public services. It uses e-participation and web assessment as two broad categories to rank countries on the basis of e-information, e-services and e-tools provided by their governments to meet the demands of transparency and accountability voiced by citizens. India did fairly well on both these fronts.
In the e-participation index, India was ranked 49 globally, whereas in the web measurement assessment, which measures the online presence of national websites, with those of the ministries of health, education, welfare, labour and finance of each country, it was ranked 54.
The survey makes a mention of the government’s user-friendly site http://india.gov.in/, which promotes e-governance as an important national policy and strategy, including a link to the National e-Governance Plan (NEGP).