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Citizen participation and effectiveness of e-petition: Sutharyakeralam – India

By: Sreejith Alathur; P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan AND M.P. Gupta.
Publisher: Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy 2012Description: pp. 392-403 Vol. 6 No. 4, 2012.Subject(s): ICT; E-GOVERANCNCE ELECTRONIC GOVERANCNCE ELECTRONIC PETITION; E-DEMOCRACY; ELECTRONIC MEDIA; DECISION MAKING; HUMAN RIGHTS; E-PARTICIPATION; ELECTRONIC PARTICIPATIONOnline resources: Click here to access online Summary: Purpose – The purpose of this study is to investigate the influence of electronization in improving the effectiveness of citizens’ democratic participation in the context of e-petitioning. With this aim, the current study worked to ascertain what influences citizens’ offline and online petitioning and the extent to which electronization empowers citizens for effective e-petitioning. Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses a case study from Sutharyakeralam meaning “Transparent Keralam” to determine the extent to which e-petitioning worked for protecting a public irrigation canal in Kerala (India). Data were obtained through in-depth interviews with relevant government officials, journalists and petitioners who reside near the canal. Secondary data used for the case analysis consist of petitioners’ documents. Using a content analysis, this paper assesses citizens’ ability to participate and influence decision making. Findings – Findings illustrate adequate citizen participation before and after the electronization of the grievance redress mechanism. Results also show if there are adequate publicizing facilities, e-petitions can empower citizens to engage effectively in efforts to fight for their human rights. Research limitations/implications – The scope of the study is limited to exploring the determining parameters that may improve democratic participation in an issue of environmental pollution. Results imply that adequate policies to ensure the involvement of participants are essential to enable e-government initiatives to deliver on the ideals of e-democracy for equity and justice. Originality/value – Earlier studies on e-participation were less adequate in explaining the influence of electronization on citizens’ capability for effective e-petitioning. The current study attempts to explore the enablers of effective e-petitioning. Drawing on the canal case study, arguments are presented that explain the possible success and failure of e-petitioning initiatives in India. Keywords E-participation, E-petition, Effectiveness, Sutharyakeralam, India, Decision making, Human rights, Electronic media
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Purpose – The purpose of this study is to investigate the influence of electronization in improving
the effectiveness of citizens’ democratic participation in the context of e-petitioning. With this aim,
the current study worked to ascertain what influences citizens’ offline and online petitioning and the
extent to which electronization empowers citizens for effective e-petitioning.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses a case study from Sutharyakeralam meaning
“Transparent Keralam” to determine the extent to which e-petitioning worked for protecting a public
irrigation canal in Kerala (India). Data were obtained through in-depth interviews with relevant
government officials, journalists and petitioners who reside near the canal. Secondary data used for the
case analysis consist of petitioners’ documents. Using a content analysis, this paper assesses citizens’
ability to participate and influence decision making.
Findings – Findings illustrate adequate citizen participation before and after the electronization of
the grievance redress mechanism. Results also show if there are adequate publicizing facilities,
e-petitions can empower citizens to engage effectively in efforts to fight for their human rights.
Research limitations/implications – The scope of the study is limited to exploring the
determining parameters that may improve democratic participation in an issue of environmental
pollution. Results imply that adequate policies to ensure the involvement of participants are essential
to enable e-government initiatives to deliver on the ideals of e-democracy for equity and justice.
Originality/value – Earlier studies on e-participation were less adequate in explaining the influence
of electronization on citizens’ capability for effective e-petitioning. The current study attempts to
explore the enablers of effective e-petitioning. Drawing on the canal case study, arguments are
presented that explain the possible success and failure of e-petitioning initiatives in India.
Keywords E-participation, E-petition, Effectiveness, Sutharyakeralam, India, Decision making,
Human rights, Electronic media

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