By Kameshwaran Elangovan
It would be very difficult to explain to anyone that today, the Indian government has a system where every citizen has a unique identification number, and it can be authenticated using fingerprints with a network system which works across multiple divisions like tax filing, bank accounts, and even mobile phone Sim cards. Such is the impact of technology in the territory of governance. More often than not, the government has always been slow and steady to embrace any new technology, but when it does, it does so with perfection and it also ensures that the “digital divide” remains as close to zero as possible.
We have come a long way from the Internet age, and we are looking at a new space of technology that is digital-first. This era of connectivity called Web3 has already seen a lot of positive impact including but not limited to games, digital currency, collectibles, and a lot more. This has even led to the creation of a digital world where your digital identity is authentic, thanks to the inherent attributes of the digital distributed ledger called the blockchain.
This virtual digital universe, fittingly called the metaverse (which implies that it is a ‘digital’ universe beyond what we know of!), opens up a lot of opportunities in the territory of governance. This is the time for e-Governance!
These are the possible territories where metaverse can meet e-Governance, bringing in a massive chunk of benefits:
Addressing the nation
There have been multiple instances where elected and executive heads of the country need to address the nation, be it an every day peaceful situation or a special occasion like Independence Day or republic day… Or during times of political/military unrest. The metaverse can create an environment where the leader can virtually be present in every home, so they can have a closer interaction with the citizens. This could also probably open up possibilities for interactive sessions… Although on a preplanned basis.
Scheduled disputes/issues redressal
Our country is an indirect democracy, and there are elected representatives at every level… Right from ward councillors to the elected representatives who rule the entire nation. With the metaverse in place, it is impossible for people to have their disputes redressed with their local representatives without having a need to go through the long processes of submitting a petition which has chances of being lost in the process. This would also encourage a personal touch and communication with the elected representatives of the local body, enhancing the trust that people have in them.
After all, governance has to start from the least level and progress bigger and better!
Processes can be smoothened out
It might be exceedingly difficult to manage a wide spectrum of documents in a country that has about 1.3 billion people. The metaverse could be the e-Governance solution that will make a lot of cumbersome and daunting processes easier. Let us take the simple example of a passport. The current system, while it is extraordinarily more streamlined than what it was before, mandates that a person should visit the passport office/PSK in person, submit the documents, get the photographs, and finish the process which might take about half a day. There is also the police verification which proceeds days after this process which might consume additional time in the passport being sanctioned and sent.
With e-Governance and metaverse in place, the passport officer can virtually connect with the citizen to get the work done. Since the underlying blockchain technology is immutable, it will not be possible for the person to fake their identity whatsoever. The entire process can be finished in a few minutes… And that too, with the comfort of both the officer and the citizen not leaving their homes! This would be one of the most interesting and intriguing use cases of the metaverse for e-Governance in India.
Democracy is a system that gives powers to people more than anyone else… And communities are an integral part of such initiatives. More often than not, people can come together, brainstorm ideas, take it to the people who have the responsibility to execute it, and make the society better. To bring people from the community into a gathering, however, could be a bit challenging.
If we were to use the metaverse for e-Governance, it could open up possibilities where people can gather virtually, interact personally, and bring out ideas. After all, blockchain is all about community… And so is governance in a democracy. Bringing them together will only benefit the society at large!
The possible challenges
The current technical configurations of the metaverse require 5G Internet or at least 4G with good speed to be active on connected devices. However, it is to be understood that certain villages in remote areas have scanty access even to 3G Internet. While this might be a deterrent, it is quite possible that the government would already be working not only on using the metaverse for e-Governance but also for ensuring seamless connectivity across or geographies. There is always an iota of digital divide no matter what… But sometimes, it is crucial to move forward and ensure that the “divide” is made irrelevant.
Technology has always enabled connections and connectivity, and these are two crucial element for any government to function. With the metaverse in place, e-Governance will become accessible, efficient, and better. The government has always been intent on making processes better for people and solving issues faced by its citizens, and the metaverse will be an effective augmentation to the avenues that they already have in place to achieve this goal.
The author is co-founder and COO, Guardianlink
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