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Paperless ‘Saharsa’ is Bihar’s new showcase district

  • Published
    22nd Nov, 2022
Context

Recently, Saharsa became the first district in Bihar to be declared paperless with an aim to end the Great Indian Red Tape.

About
What is Red Tape?
  • Red tape is a derisive term for excessive regulation or rigid conformity to formal rules that is considered redundant or bureaucratic and hinders or prevents action or decision-making.
  • It generally includes:
    • Filling out seemingly unnecessary paperwork,
    • Obtaining unnecessary licenses,
    • Having multiple people or committees approve a decision and
    • Various low-level rules make conducting one’s affairs slower and more difficult.

Word ‘Red Tape’ Origin:

The term was used to refer to the seemingly endless parade of paperwork that accompanies many official matters that got its start back in old England. Thick legal documents were bound or tied with a red cloth tape. So when someone spoke of cutting through the red tape, they meant it in a very literal sense.

A step towards Good Governance:
  • The e-office initiative goes back to 2009 but the towering piles of paperwork were still a hurdle too high to cross.
  • Idukki in Kerala became paperless in 2012 and Hyderabad in 2016.
  • The Covid pandemic gave an impetus to the initiative with many district administrations taking the digital route in 2020 and 2021 including Palakkad in Kerala, Jagatsinghpur in Odisha, Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, and Raigarh in Maharashtra.
  • A Cooperative Department in Patna working paperless was Bihar’s first government department to make the digital transition in 2020.
Significance:
  • Digitization has helped bring about efficiency, transparency, and accountability.
  • It has increased employee productivity. And the number of people required to process a single file has reduced.
  • The online system has also brought in more accountability. Staff members cannot sit on files for days on end.
  • Technology is his first step towards good governance and a corruption-free system.
How Red Tapism hinders Good governance?
  • Affects Citizen Satisfaction: Red tape indeed negatively affects citizen satisfaction due to delayed government processing and the cost associated with it.
  • Hinders Scheme implementation: Delayed release of funds, lack of proper monitoring, etc. are commonly associated issues attached to Red Tapism that make policies ineffective.
  • Leads to Corruption: The higher the level of red tape, the higher the level of corruption.
  • Increases cost of doing business: Red tape is costly, not just in time and money spent filling out forms but also in terms of reduced productivity and innovation in business.
  • Delay Justice and service delivery: Due to Red Tapism variable enforcement of contracts and delayed administration lead to delayed justice, especially for the poor.
    • For example, delayed wage payments under MGNREGA impact timely benefits to the poor.
Suggestive Measures:
  • Skill development: There are officials who are not skilled enough to make government processing faster. It is important to train them properly on the subjects and appoint skilled people.
  • Incentives: A lot of government employees at the lower level (Group C and Group D) are underpaid. They find no incentive to work efficiently. Efforts must be made to honor workers for their good work and punishing for not achieving timely efficiency.
  • Providing adequate Infrastructure: Due to the lack of Computers and Technology in Rural areas, the government offices were left with no option but to work manually. This must be addressed at the earliest.
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