IT revolution gapLocal administrations have shown little or no interest in doing away with the archaic manual system.
The concept of e-governance, still at its nascent stage in Nepal, has been left to decay in its own inadequacies. Most countries have managed to exploit information technology as a means to achieve extraordinary economic success. In Nepal, we have barely managed to scratch the surface to avail of any sort of benefit. The state of affairs concerning digitisation is botched, primarily because those at the helm of affairs never understood its usefulness or relevance. While most digitised countries move towards blockchain technology, we here in Nepal have to suffice with innumerable stacks of paperwork to prove one’s identity.
To advocate the adoption of blockchain would be to overestimate the infrastructural capabilities at our disposal. However, we can at least make use of the existing infrastructure to its most effective use. As per the report issued by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, the use of information technology has been limited to capturing data related to birth, marriage, divorce and migration, and presumably using it without the convenience of a central database. The lack of a central database means people are often sent on arduous journeys to access or certify essential documents such as citizenship cards and renewal of driver's licences from their places of origin rather than from the convenience of the nearest local source.
Having a central database could prove effective not just for the citizens, but for the state too. Duplication of work and effort can effectively be reduced, and the workforce assigned to focus on dealing with critical issues. The ministry, in its report, paints a rather dismal picture. Of the 434 local units evaluated, 392 (90.32 percent) had fewer than two IT staff, and most operate without an IT engineer. Despite assurances of financial support, nothing has been done to improve the current state. While there is a shortage of qualified personnel to fill the vacancies, the local administrations, to the disadvantage of the people that they serve, have shown little or no interest in doing away with the archaic manual system.
Working on the infrastructural requirements of information technology seems to be an uphill task for the government, especially at the local level. The problem appears graver than envisaged. There appears to be a lack of adequate technical human resources. The cream of the crop is quickly snapped up by private firms, where the perks of employment are often competitive with other private firms. The government ends up absorbing candidates with the basic minimum qualification or training.
Why is it that the majority of the people (65.44 percent) working in IT have not received any form of training in the last two years? There is a lot of finger pointing going on between the authorities at the centre and those in the provinces, yet nothing concrete is being done to improve the existing drawbacks. All this could easily be reversed if the government sets its mind on governance, or rather e-governance.