This article explains how the introduction of information and communication technologies (ICTs) influences citizens’ engagement with the state by analysing Nemmadi Kendras (NKs), which are computerised kiosks established in rural areas of Karnataka to provide revenue services and land records to citizens under a public-private partnership. The government argued that the introduction of digital technology as an interface between the State and citizens would contribute towards good governance by enhancing efficiency, transparency and accountability.
Drawing on the social shaping of technology perspectives, the findings suggest that a thorough analysis of the impact of information technologies in governance necessitates paying attention to the larger political and social processes within which the technology is introduced and embedded. The article further argues that the introduction of information technologies in a fraught and contested context adds more layers (in terms of bureaucracy and middlemen), which rural citizens have to navigate before they can actually attain services. Concerns related to costs, scale and political dynamics in the design of databases are also discussed here. The article concludes by advocating the ‘embedded’ approach for studying the role of ICTs in governance.
Click here to download copy of the article – Media Asia – B Raman and Z Bawa