Issue: JUNE 2017
 
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The Youth of a Nation are the trustees of posterity. While most of the developed world is moving towards a nation of ageing population, India is poise...
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  Job Creation: Challenges & Way Forward by Alakh N Sharma , Balwant Singh Mehta
  The second lead article is about the challenges of job creation. In this article authors have talked about the government initiatives.
  Making a Nation of Job Creators’ by Shri Saurabh Sanyal and Ranjeet Mehta
  The article suggested fostering entrepreneurship and a fruitful culture of innovation in the country. It will help making India the hub of innovation, design and Start-ups.
  Bringing Harmony between Body and Mind by Ishwara N Acharya & Rajiv Rastogi
  3rd International Yoga Day would be celebrated on 21 June 2017. As Yoga has been accepted as non-invasive mode of treatment in the management of non-communicable diseases
  GST–The Game Changer by D S Mallik
  Introduction of GST would instantly spur economic growth and can potentially lead to additional GDP
 
 
  E-Governance: A Tool for Curbing Corruption in Indian Higher Education System
Prateek Bhanti
Introduction

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is used in many countries across the world to bring in transparency and operational efficiency in the working of government machinery. The concept of E-Governance encourages the use of modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) in order to improve service delivery to the citizens and promote transparency in functional procedures. Higher education is one of the most complex structures and thus quite cumbersome to be governed. Lack of transparency at various levels creates opportunity for people to indulge in illegal activities and make money. The initiatives of E-Governance can bring transparency and reduce corruption to a large extent and provide a user friendly, efficient and effective administration to the stakeholders of higher education. The quality of higher education in India has come up as an area of concern in almost all reports prepared by various committees constituted for different purposes. The intention of this article is to bring into light the deep rooted corruption in the higher education system of India and to suggest remedial measures that could be taken. The study aims to explore the possibilities of exploiting E-Governance as a solution to unravel the problem of corruption in higher education system. Implementation of such type of system may result in a noticeable change in both administrative and academic fronts. The article is an attempt to promote E-Governance culture in higher education system which will consequently lead to the processes which are less cumbersome and free from corruption.

Corruption in higher education system in India

There are many forms in which corruption is generally found in higher education system in India viz.  bribery, cronyism, nepotism and embezzlement both financial and ethical.

There are certain pieces of information which aspiring candidates would like to know e.g. availability of courses, fee, faculty members, location and infrastructure etc. It has been found that the students rely on information from college websites for evaluating the institution. But there are certain institutes which show misleading information on the websites. Chadha Rajat(2008) viewed a university website of  prime importance for aspiring students to find out the programmes of studies that are available at the institute. He finally concluded that Indian university websites do not fare well on the guidelines set forth by Middleton et al.(1999).

The educational institutes hide a lot of information from the public especially when they lack necessary infrastructure and resources for providing quality education. It has been observed that the websites of higher educational institutes are behind the times as campus politics and disinclination prevents them from keeping their websites updated and useful to internal students (already enrolled students), faculty, staff as well as prospective users.

Absence of teachers from the work place is a severe issue. In most of the universities and colleges, the teachers do not take interest in teaching and remain absent. It is often seen that they remain busy in giving coaching or offering guest lecturers in other institutes f. There is no transparent method developed yet for recording and monitoring the performance of teachers as far as the teaching is concerned. Although many universities have taken few initiatives to freeze the culture of remaining absent from the college/universities such as biometrics system of attendance.

The less likelihood of being punished has inspired the administrative staff of most of the universities to get involve in various mal-practices. Buying and selling of marks/grades has now become a common practice. Instance of issuing fake mark sheet to the students is one of the few examples of such malpractices. The examination system needs to be more transparent especially when continuous evaluation system is involved. The danger increases manifolds when it comes to the storage and handling of huge volume of the result record.

Privatization of education system has brought a new form of academic fraud. Through these private universities, the students are finding it easy to obtain credentials and academic degrees by offering bribe. There are number of ‘FAKE’ institutes which issue degree even without the physical presence of the student.

It has been seen that there are some private universities which do not give sufficient salaries to the teaching staff which is the root cause of prevailing corruption. Teachers who are paid less get involve in malpractices like private tutoring. The situation gets worsened when these teachers are involved in examination system or in continuous evaluation system leading to favouritism.

The shortage of faculty members in various universities and their affiliated colleges is   another issue for the prospective candidates. These shortages lead to the appointment of teachers on contract basis and also give rise to the concept of guest faculty. Most of the contractual teachers are found to be more engaged in palm greasing rather than teaching because the renewal of the contract solely depends on the immediate boss (Director, principle etc).

Most of the private universities and colleges have their grievances about the redundant and complicated procedure of accreditation and affiliation etc. The universities have to knock the doors of various bodies for different programmes they wish to run. It has been seen that the grades/ranks are given on the basis of bribe or hospitality; they receive from the universities and colleges.

Same thing happens at the time of sanctioning funds to the universities/colleges. Various authoritative levels of the structure of sanctioning bodies release fund only after receiving appropriate “commission” even if the college/university is fulfilling all the norms.

It has also been seen that institutions fail to utilize the funds properly given to them for the development of the institution. In most of the universities funds get stagnated for a number of years or are not used in proper and optimized manner. Lack of transparency in the allocation of funds and its expenditures is one of the causes of corruption in the area.

The opaque admission procedure of the university gives rise to a typical form of corruption in some universities where there is a flexibility of backdoor entry of a student after receiving unauthorized payment. Adequate information about criteria, qualification, rules etc. are generally kept hidden or found to be misleading. The government has less control on the admission policy of private universities. The admission process in majority of the cases is not monitored properly which leaves a scope for the institutions to admit students on their own.

Treatment through E-Governance

 

According to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi,   “E-Governance can bring transparency in an Easy, Economic, and Efficient manner”.

By minimizing the human intervention, E-Governance technique exhibits transparent, accountable and responsive mechanism of building trust and prevention of corruption. The advancement in the field of internet has paved the way for the development of a favourable environment for quality education. Moreover, there are number of e-governance projects like BHOOMI, MNREGA running in various departments due to which corruption is under control to some extent. Thus, when e-governance has been used to remove corruption in many areas, then why can’t we use it for controlling corruption in higher education?

E-Governance can help in combating the corruption through information exposure and service delivery. Instant access to the information, quick and efficient transaction are the main features of E-Governance. The detailed information available to the citizen, enables them to understand rules and regulations. Procedural re-engineering simplifies the complicated government procedures. E-Governance has provided the strength to the citizen to question the authorities and seek explanation. The transparency generated by the use of e-governance may lead to reduction in corruption.    

Due to the sincere efforts of the government , the enrolment ratio is expected to escalate to higher level. In this scenario, e-governance seems to be the only tool which can handle this massive growth of aspirants. Further, e-governance will also help in efficient and effective management of big universities.

Ahmad Shamim(2010) elucidated that the technology driven governance in higher education is a matter of urgency on several counts. Technology and transparency are two vital components that may transform the system of higher education. National Knowledge Commission (2007) also emphasized on reengineering the processes to inculcate simplicity, transparency, accountability, productivity and efficiency. The author further added the possible benefits of technology driven governance. Harnessing them optimally is required to meet the specific governance needs. The use of technology will not only track and process the data but also report on the different aspects of academics as well as administrative issues. 

Rajeev Singh(2011) attempted to explain a number of challenges at operational and strategic level in higher education. He specifically highlighted the problem of duplication of procedure for getting approval / renewal from various regulating bodies and emphasized on the need of faster and preferably paperless process of approval and accreditation. He concluded that ICT has played a major role in reducing operational complexity. He also suggested the implementation of E-Governance solutions which can empower the governing bodies to administer the progress of the education plan in the whole country and serve various stakeholders in a much better way.

The procedures of recognition / renewal are currently redundant as there are more than one regulatory body. After introduction of e-governance system the procedure can be simplified since all the statistics about the resources of the university will be made online. Online records will not only enhance the transparencybut  also give the institute greater credibility..

Selection of vice chancellor and other authorities should be a process free from political interference and full of transparency. With the help of e-governance solution, a single list of deserving candidates can be maintained online. The profile of the candidate should be made public and the list should be updated with every new entry. Appointment can be done on the basis of the seniority in the list. When the full profile will be accessible to the citizen, no one will dare to put pressure on authorities for appointing a person of his / her choice.

As far as fund utilization is concerned, the mechanism can be developed which will be automated or time bound. All details needed for the approval of funds can be fetched by the centralized system in online fashion. The fund utilization by college or university can be monitored online and analyzed even on a monthly basis. The public and media should be given an access to financial data of the institute.

The online feedback mechanism on the performance of teachers can reduce the rate of absenteeism of the teachers from the workplace and also force them to improve quality of teaching since their remuneration will be then based on the feedback. The E-Governance interface can be used to get feedback from the students related to the course and performance of the university. This will also help to keep an eye on the institutes in remote areas and support them in their full development. Students and parents can directly give feedback about the performance of the universities/ colleges to the regulatory bodies.

Computerized and centralized system of admission procedure will raise transparency. If all the institutes become part of this system, students will have to fill one form and can save the cost of applying in more than one institute. It has been seen in many cases that institutes offer unrecognized and low demand courses to ignorant students which not only put their career on the stake but seems to be complete waste of time and money. Centralized admission process will filter out such institutes and unrecognized courses. Moreover, when universities are linked and information about all the students and the opted courses is centralized, the trend of demand of course or stream can be easily tracked as and when required.

The governing bodies can very easily develop a mechanism to analyze which course is in high demand in a particular area or region. Further, government can also plan   employment generation in sync with the passing graduates in the country.

 The centralized governing system can put a check on the fee structure even if the fee structure is deregulated. Presently, in many universities, students seeking scholarships have to make several rounds to various offices.. However, with the implementation of e-governance, whole mechanism will be re-engineered and will be more user friendly and transparent.

There is an urgent need of preparing and publishing centralized online data of academicians available in various institutes of higher education. This will open the possible avenues of collaboration among the nearby universities or colleges. Colleges which are struggling with the problem of shortage of faculty members may choose from the online database of the faculty members for the teacher of required subject area. This type of collaboration may prove to be beneficial for the university. Moreover, students who aspire to take admission in the college will have full information about deficient faculty in the university/ college which is their essential right.

 


Conclusion

As observed by Panzardi, Calcopietro and Ivanovic, “The new form of governance will ensure that the citizens are no longer passive consumers of services offered to them and would transform them to play a crucial role in deciding the kind of services they want and the structure which could best provide the same.” In reference of this vision, it is expected that implementation of E-Governance in the right spirit will not only help eradicate  corruption but also prove to be a milestone in the development of higher education in India.

 

 

References

 

Ahmad, S..(2010), “Tech driven Governance: Indispensable for higher education” University News, 48(44) .10-13.

Chadha, R. (2008). Wake up call for Indian University Administrators? A study of Indian University Websites. University News, 46(49),1-7.

Harsolkar D. (2005).Centralised admission for professional programmes. University News, 43(33),7-9.  

Panzardi, C. A. (2002). Electronic Government and Governance: Lessons for Argentina. Washington D.C.: World Bank. Retrieved from  www.catedras.fsoc.uba.ar

Shivadekar, S. (2011, September 16). E-governance plan will help curb corruption. The Times of India.

Singh, R. (n.d.). Retrieved october 10, 2011, from egov-coe: www.egov-coe.ncc.gov

Singh, R. (n.d.). Retrieved october 10, 2011, from egov-coe: www.egov-coe.ncc.gov

Email: prateek_bhanti@yahoo.com

Dial: 91-9414664006

 


 
 
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