IRC18: Offline, Kandbari, February 22-24, 2018


01. #OnlineGovernanceOfflineGovernment

Last updated on Nov 24, 2017.

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Context of the Session

Though the “governance” has broad meaning but often used in relation with state to provide services to the citizen and establish rule of law. The internet is a tool for the governance, also referred as “online”, which commonly seen as a low cost, quick, transparent and efficient.

State and commercial service providers are working with great vigour and effort to go or put things (services and information) “online”. Especially, states and governments efforts are viewed as a milestone in delivering and streamlining services and being transparent - the fundamental tenets of democracy today. The governments and its agencies’ pursuit of connecting citizens for effective governance have encroached into the private spaces, and vital information is susceptible to misuse. One such example in case of India is linking Aadhar as a mandatory requirement even for services provided by private companies has consequences such as risks of surveillance and misuse of service seekers personal and financial information. While citizen’s aspect of life and identity depends on “online” controlled by governments have given additional powers to states to put an individual or entire state “offline”.

On the other side, provisions in government acts and rules require state agencies to make information public but their websites, which are the sole source of information normally, are not updated regularly. The Right to Information Act or RTI is a tool for citizen to bring information in public domain but there are limitations to verify whether information one has received through RTI application is accurate. Moreover, regulations are barring public servants from using microblogging sites and social media to share information. Governments use different ways to block the flow of information from their side.

In this context, we put instances of #OnlineGovernanceOfflineGovernment and look for the reasons why governments are increasingly going “offline” while they demand from the citizens to be “online”?

Session Plan

There will be paper presentations by the session team in two parts. After the presentation, a question answers session in the form of discussion.

Session Team

Mohammad Javed Alam is a research scholar with Centre for Studies in Science Policy (CSSP), JNU New Delhi. Previously, he has worked with Center for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) Pune. He holds a post-graduate diploma in Embedded Systems Design from ACTS CDAC Pune and a graduate degree in Engineering.

Suman Mandal is student of International Relations and Area Studies at the School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi. He taught writing mostly argumentative essays to high school students back in Nepal. He is interested in studying aspects of democracy, governance and International Politics.