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

What do recipients think of new digital processes for receiving public benefits?

Digital technologies are transforming the way in which citizens interact with states across the world. Previous systems which, especially in developing countries, were often personalized and operated at the communal or local level, are being superseded by new, more remote, delivery mechanisms as digital technology, in particular, for identification and payments, is engaged to reform public service delivery. The costly, and sometimes difficult, changes in administrative processes and delivery mechanisms are motivated by the ultimate objective of making governments more inclusive, efficient and accountable. The success of the reform process, therefore, depends critically on whether the delivery of public services have, or have not, improved along these three dimensions.

With only a few exceptions, the literature on the experience and perception of beneficiaries vis-à-vis digital governance reform is still largely anecdotal. This paper aims to narrow this information gap by investigating the digital delivery transformation in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It investigates the perceived impact of this transformation in the system of delivery of public benefits, subsidies and transfers through a household survey.

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By Alan Gelb, Anit Mukherjee & Kyle Navis