Minimum Government and Maximum Governance: Empowering the Impoverished Through Digital India Campaign

Published date01 June 2022
Date01 June 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Minimum Government
and Maximum
Empowering the
Impoverished Through
Digital India Campaign
Gurram Ashok1
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for ‘minimum government and maximum
governance’ aims at addressing India’s complexity of governance. The poor and
marginalised sections are invisible in governance. In overcoming this lacuna,
Digital India (with its nine pillars) endeavours for digital empowerment in creat-
ing a knowledgeable society where people’s participation in policy formulation
and governance of the welfare are given primacy. The minimalist role of govern-
ance is to increase people’s engagement in building new India, and Atmanirbhar
Bharat (self-reliant India) reflects Mahatma Gandhi’s sarvodaya and Deendayal
Upadhyaya’s philosophy of antyodaya (the rise of the last person).
Minimum government and maximum governance, good governance, digital India,
empowerment, inclusion
Governance is a scientific endeavour in decision making and implementation of
the State policies. Conventionally, ‘the term governance refers to the exercise of
sovereign power by the state; it is a reference to processes and mechanisms for
determining and realising the collective goals’ (Sharma, 2018, p. 2). Governance
is often equated with the government for administering law and order, welfare
Indian Journal of Public
68(3) 381–396, 2022
© 2022 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/00195561221102409
1 Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Telangana, India.
Corresponding author:
Gurram Ashok, Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences, University of Hyderabad,
Prof. CR Rao Road, Gachibowli, Hyderabad, Telangana 500046, India.
382 Indian Journal of Public Administration 68(3)
services, and peoples’ rights by bureaucratic agencies. ‘That is, governance is
about establishing, promoting and supporting a specific type of relationship
between governmental and non-governmental actors in the governing process’
(Mukherjee & Howlett 2016, p. 27). The democratic governments secure the
consent of the governed by maximising the interests of the people. For people’s
participation in governance, various initiatives such as the 73rd and 74th
Constitutional Amendments were adopted for local governance in rural and urban
local bodies. Further, the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005, was enacted, fol-
lowing Citizen Charters for transparency and probity in the governance. These
attempts aim at training the people for democracy at the grassroots level and par-
ticipatory approach to the governance. However, the people’s participation in
governance has remained a far-reaching goal in the Indian democracy without
much success.
The idea of good governance was termed and popularised by the World Bank
and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with the neo-liberal agenda pushing
for people’s participation and civil society’s engagement in policy formulation
and execution. It was noted that:
[A]t its simplest, governance in the neo-liberal mode shall be understood as a switcho-
ver from a bureaucratic pattern of rule to an entrepreneurial pattern of rule, where the
state will typically network with the non-state players in a bid to cut red tape, encourage
innovation and become citizen-centric. (Sharma, 2018, p. 3)
Such citizen-centric governance resonates Gandhi’s sarvodaya where people’s
empowerment is given priority over ‘power’, ‘life over file’, and ‘accountability
over authority’. The Government of India, under the leadership of Prime Minister
Narendra Modi, made innovative attempts for good governance through the
Digital India Campaign. The rationale of Digital India is to reduce ‘bureaucratic
interference and increase people’s role’ in governance, which the Prime Minister
termed as ‘minimum government and maximum governance’. This kind of gov-
ernance strives to reduce red-tapism in government and increases transparency by
empowering the people and creating a knowledgeable society.
The article has been divided into five parts. The first part deals with the concep-
tual background of ‘minimum government and maximum governance; the second
part discusses the role of Digital India and its nine pillars in empowering the
people to participate in governance. The third part elucidates how Digital India,
in delivering the welfare services, leads to financial inclusion and social secu-
rity of the people. The fourth part debates the dissenting voices against Digital
Governance, while the fifth part concludes the study.
Minimum Government and Maximum Governance: From
Government to Governance
Though the idea of governance has been buzzing in academic discourses since the
1980s, it gained currency in India only after the economic liberalisation of 1991

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