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eGovernment and Corruption in the States: Can technology serve the aam aadmi?

Bussell, Jennifer. eGovernment and Corruption in the States: Can technology serve the aam aadmi? 2012 in Economic and Political Weekly XLVII(25): 77-85.

Abstract

The Indian central government has promoted efforts to improve the quality of public service delivery using information and communication technologies. However, state-level experiences with eGovernment since the late 1990s display significant variations in the ability of governments to successfully adopt new technologies to provide benefits to citizens. I evaluate state efforts to implement one-stop, computerized citizen service centers and show that policy outcomes are not correlated with measures of established explanations for reform, such as economic development. Instead, I argue that variations in policies result from the extent to which incumbent politicians expect reforms to affect the economic resources underlying their current and future electoral status—in particular, the availability of corrupt income from the process of service delivery. I show that levels of petty corruption are highly correlated with the characteristics of reform and these outcomes are magnified in coalition-led states, where politicians anticipate economic benefits from their participation in government. Analysis of four states, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Uttar Pradesh, illustrates these dynamics and highlights the ways in which politicians simultaneously use service reforms to target benefits to their preferred constituents.

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