Digital Governance in Developing Countries: Beneficiary Experience and Perceptions of System Reform in Rajasthan, India

37 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2019

See all articles by Alan Gelb

Alan Gelb

Center for Global Development

Anit Mukherjee

Center for Global Development

Kyle Navis

Center for Global Development

Date Written: July 10, 2018

Abstract

India is at the forefront of the use of digital technology to transform the way in which citizens interact with states. This paper provides a picture of the perceived impact of digitization reforms in Rajasthan, based on a survey of beneficiaries of several benefit programs. We find that, on balance, the reforms appear to have improved perceptions of service delivery despite some difficulties during the digitization process and the possibility—which we cannot fully assess with our data—that there could have been some degree of exclusion. The proportion of people preferring the new systems, at 40–60 percent, far exceeded the proportion who expressed a preference for the old system (5–12 percent). In the case of food and cooking gas subsidy reforms, the reason for the preference is relatively clear—they considered that the new systems gave them greater control over their entitlements and reduced the ability of others to claim their benefits or divert them. The main problems arise from biometric authentication. Shifting pensions from postal delivery to bank deposits is overwhelmingly supported, partly because of better regularity. Reforms in Rajasthan also had two cross-cutting goals: financial inclusion and women’s empowerment. Our survey confirms that virtually all respondents have bank accounts, often two or more per family, as do all heads of household who are officially mandated to be women. Two thirds of these women had not owned bank accounts before the reforms. Mobiles emerge, however, as a male preserve. This suggests a further frontier for policies and programs to shift India towards a digital society—ensuring that all people have the capacity to access and to use digital technology.

JEL Classification: H10, H11, O10, 030, 031, 035, 038

Suggested Citation

Gelb, Alan and Mukherjee, Anit and Navis, Kyle, Digital Governance in Developing Countries: Beneficiary Experience and Perceptions of System Reform in Rajasthan, India (July 10, 2018). Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 489, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3310458 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3310458

Alan Gelb (Contact Author)

Center for Global Development ( email )

2055 L St. NW
5th floor
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Anit Mukherjee

Center for Global Development ( email )

2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Kyle Navis

Center for Global Development ( email )

2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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