The Case of Nemmadi Kendras in Bangalore
This research examined the relationship between the concepts of participation, communities and technology in the context of a e-governance programme in India. It explored the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in governance drawing on the case of Nemmadi Kendras (NKs). NKs are computerized kiosks which were introduced in rural areas of Karnataka, a South Indian state, to provide revenue services and land records to rural citizens. NK programme was introduced by the Government of Karnataka (GoK) to digitize service provision under a public-private partnership arrangement. GoK argued that the introduction of digital technology as an interface between the state and citizens would contribute towards good governance in terms of enhancing the efficiency, transparency and accountability. In this light, we have examined the manner in which the introduction of technological interface, namely NKs, has influenced citizen’s engagement with the state. Drawing on the social shaping of technology perspectives, our findings point towards two issues: first, introduction of information technologies is only one aspect of the overall process change that is introduced for governance of land and welfare services in rural areas. Hence, we argue that a thorough analysis of the impact of information technologies in the realm of governance necessitates paying attention to the larger processes within which the technology is introduced and embedded. Second, Social relations including the influence
of local politics, continues to determine access to revenue services and land records. Here, we suggest 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 the welfare services. We also discuss social factors relating to concerning costs, scale social relations influence and decisions on adopting ICTs and the design of databases and their role in management of land information.
A link to the journal paper which Bhuvaneswari Raman and Zainab Bawa authored based on this research on the Nemmadi kiosks which have been set up across Karnataka state to deliver land records and rural digital services.
The paper appeared in Media Asia journal [Vol. 38 (1)] in April this year.
Bhuvaneswari Raman and Zainab Bawa’s report done for SIRCA (sirca.org.sg) project through Servelots.com on Technology, Community, Participation
Note: This report may go through another round of small edits.