Cloud computing, where so much information can be stored and shared, has become commonplace throughout the world. But what does this fairly new application of technology mean for India? Several years ago, hardly anyone in India could have imagined that someday its government services would be available electronically. Now thanks to cloud computing, long waits of months to process payments for taxes or even electricity bills, which are paid to the government, are now expedited.
E-governance, or the electronic delivery of government services to customers, businesses, and even to the agencies themselves, is now available here and so far has made a positive impact on our country and its 1.2 billion citizens.
For example, the state of Karnataka is now digitizing centuries-old land registry records that show proof of ownership and taxes owed in order to eliminate inefficiencies and corruption. The project, called Bhoomi, meaning land, is making these records transparent so that the local government can better audit them and also collect information in order to provide better services to residents. This will benefit 700,000 people residing throughout 3,000 villages. Another initiative, eSeva, in the state of Telangana, allows citizens to view and pay utility and telephone bills as well as municipality taxes directly from the state’s website.
Despite concerns about data privacy and security, cloud computing has emerged as a reliable tool for e-governance applications.
One research paper in particular that caught my eye was “E-Governance Using Cloud Architecture: The Challenges With Indian Perspective,” by Jeel Patel and Nisarg Pradhan. This report covers the implications of e-governance in major cities in India as well as in remote regions. The article listed various challenges, including the scalability of databases to deal with the large amount of data that is required for e-governance applications, as well as the availability of cloud storage. This is all the more necessary in India due to its large population.
The other challenge is how the technologies will respond in a natural or man-made disaster. This could mean not only losing data permanently, but also services becoming unavailable. Because India is prone to disasters, this is of vital concern.
However, the research drew mostly positive conclusions. Cloud architectures will reduce operating costs and increase the effectiveness of government, e-governance applications have the capability to transform India into an “Information Society,” and the cloud can help developing countries like India in enabling faster and cheaper services.
Other benefits of the government switching to cloud-based systems are that cloud architectures efficiently enable upgrades in order to maintain the latest software updates, security protections, and so forth. It can also help the country go green. The cloud can offer a centralized infrastructure that can minimize pollution.
While a survey from the United Nations in 2012 showed that India’s ranking for implementing e-governance projects fell to 124th in 2012 from 119th in 2010, many of us are optimistic and look forward to what it can offer.
Maitri Vaghela is an IEEE student member currently pursuing her degree in Information Technology at LDRP Institute of Technology and Research, in Gujarat, India. She is also serving as publicist for the IEEE India SAC Newsletter and is editor of IEEE Student Branch LDRP-ITR.