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When Technology Runs Faster Than the Processes

Context:

Although we are actively advancing technology and striving for digitization, significant deficiencies exist in terms of completing tasks thoroughly. The current approach often focuses on achieving unique accomplishments that haven’t been achieved elsewhere in the world, but it frequently overlooks the subsequent steps required to enhance individual convenience, which should be the foremost objective. This situation arises when technological innovation outpaces our capacity to implement it effectively nationwide.

Relevance:

GS2-egovernance

Mains Question:

Although we are actively advancing technology and striving for digitization, significant deficiencies exist in terms of completing tasks thoroughly. Discuss. (10 marks, 150 words).

Illustrations to prove the above point:

Aadhar card and passportTo obtain an Aadhaar card, individuals must provide proof of residence, and a passport is an accepted document for this purpose. However, when it comes to renewing your passport, you are required to present your Aadhaar card, which completes the formalities. This is accompanied by police verification. It creates opportunities for illicit gains. There are instances of rude encounters where police officers question the reasons for wanting to travel abroad and then seek bribes for processing the paperwork. Top of Form  
Banking systemThere’s a regulation known as Know Your Customer (KYC), which necessitates periodic verification for every customer. As the deadline approaches, banks send reminders that can come across as somewhat intimidating. To comply with this requirement, individuals must fill out forms and provide their PAN and Aadhaar as proof. This seems unreasonable because these two documents remain constant, and the same information is repeatedly furnished.
Income Tax SystemThe income tax system, currently utilizes artificial intelligence to compile all financial transactions associated with an individual’s PAN number. The AIS form meticulously records every detail without exceptions. It appears to be a work in progress, as there are significant errors, such as mutual fund purchases being credited to both joint holders instead of the primary holder. It is presumed that these issues will be rectified in due course. Moreover there be Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) applied to each transaction, tailored to the specific tax bracket of the taxpayer, rather than a fixed rate like the standard 10%. This could be easily accomplished by individuals indicating their respective tax brackets.  
FasTagIn a bustling city like Mumbai, situations can become quite frustrating at toll gates. The machine’s failure to read the Fastag can result in traffic jams and irate drivers honking their horns incessantly. While this system benefits the government or the toll operators by preventing personnel from pocketing toll fees, it can impose a significant inconvenience on motorists.

Reasons for these shortcomings:

  • The challenge arises because once a technology is implemented, there is often little motivation to make subsequent improvements.
  • Cost considerations may come into play, as seen in the case of Aadhaar modifications where new cards are not issued, and individuals must download them. Moreover, finding a center for these updates can be challenging, as many have been closed down.
  • In the realm of technology, particularly in the financial sector, issues are frequently addressed by regulators through extensive educational programs, which is commendable. However, in various other areas, significant work remains to be done.
  • The government’s introduction of faceless tax assessment is a commendable step that addresses a critical issue. However, the use of AI in this context can sometimes lead to confusion, as it may generate inquiries for thousands of individuals based on algorithmic criteria. This means that a discrepancy of ₹1 or ₹1 crore is treated the same across all calculations.

Conclusion:

Ideally, obtaining a passport should be a seamless, automated procedure where individuals submit the necessary fees and receive their passport without requiring in-person interactions, relying on their Aadhaar card for verification. Logically, a simple confirmation click on the website should eliminate the need to visit the branch again if there have been no alterations to the KYC information. Moving forward, it’s essential to gather public input in each of these domains and involve engineers to resolve any lingering issues. More importantly, public opinions should be sought and incorporated into these schemes because, in the end, the goal should be to make the user experience convenient rather than burdensome, which can be the case at times today.


February 2024
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