Smart Governance in India

“Democracy can be dislodged in a jiffy if the public gets disillusioned with the quality of governance and corruption” – Dr. S Y Quraishi Does the very mention of stepping into a government office to get work done irk you to no end? Do you find it annoying that it takes days for a government file stuck under bundles of other files be searched and searched again to find the required file? Then here is good news for you. Read on:

Rashtrapati bhawan

Rashtrapati bhawan

Prevailing scenario: The current scenario of a typical Government office in India has the following features: 1. Multiple levels of File processing which delays the decision making process. 2. Volume of records- Multiple records bring problems of indexing and searching of relevant records. 3. File Tracking- Herculean task of traversing through several sheets of paper among countless files. 4. Lack of Transparency 5. Duplicity issues 6. Inter-departmental conflict

Pile of files

Pile of files

Thus, there is a dire need to redesign the archaic processes to align them with contemporary practices and technology and prepare a robust infrastructure to smoothen the process of automation. Providing desktops, networks, servers etc shall form the ‘hygienic’ part of the digital adoption by the Government departments.

Thus, Digital adoption shall provide the much-needed impetus for transparent governance with adequate mobility in the system while reducing administrative burdens. There are a few important aspects of Digital Adoption process:

• Flexible and User friendly design
• Legally compliant following all the rules and regulations
• Ease of creation and tracking of files
• Ease of uploading documents online

In an article written by Mr. Prakash Kumar for Hindustan Times, ex IAS officer, now National Technology Officer at Microsoft, stressed that if the details of a user are available in one department, then the same user details should be made available in other departments in a seamless manner.
Thus, the process would provide convenience to the citizens, reduce the process turnaround time and reduce the administrative burden.

Digital India Programme Digital India Programme envisaged by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (Deity) and approved by the current cabinet on 20th August 2014 is the first step in the direction. The programme aims at providing digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen as well as high-speed Internet as a core utility in all gram panchayats. It is heartening to note that in the same vein, the current government has taken concrete steps to promote digital adoption across India. About a month back, the cabinet approved Rs. 1 lakh crore for the project that aims to provide thrust to nine pillars identified as growth areas:
1. Broadband highways
2. Mobile connectivity
3. Public Internet Access Programme
4. e-Governance
5. e-Kranti (which aims to give electronic delivery of services)
6. Information for all
7. Electronics manufacturing
8. IT for Jobs
9. Early harvest programmes.

The programme aims to seamlessly integrate departments to provide easy and a single window access to all persons. It also aims at making available government services in real time from online and mobile platforms.

Role of Google:

Search engine giant, Google has decided to participate in the Digital India programme to accelerate the process by improving internet access. Google has a two-pronged approach for the same: Google plans to empower the Indian women by making sure that hundreds of millions of Indian women get online and by being online they get empowered, are able improve their livelihoods.

Rajan Anandan, MD- Google India

Rajan Anandan, MD- Google India

Initiative to build the non-English internet user base. “Only 150 million Indians are proficient in English. Almost 1.1 billion people are not proficient in English. We are very focussed on improving access, so we launched speech in Hindi,” Rajan Anandan, MD- Google India, said. “We have launched nine open source fonts in Hindi. We will do many things around Hindi as well as other major Indian languages to build the non-English internet so that internet becomes very helpful,”.

Role of Facebook:

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who was recently in the capital applauded the Digital India campaign and thought that it could spread the innovation of Indian people and thus pledged his support to the bridge the digital divide. In fact he apprised the Prime Minister about http://www.internet.org which is a global partnership between technology leaders, non profits, local communities and experts to bring internet to the two thirds of the world’s population that doesn’t have internet.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with PM Narendra Modi

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with PM Narendra Modi

Additionally, he was so impressed with the Clean India campaign that he promised help to make an app dedicated to the Clean India campaign. Mark Zuckerberg also readily agreed to partner the National Optical Fibre Network that is designed to connect 250,000 village panchayats through high-speed broadband by 2017 in a phase wise manner. He considered Drones and satellite communications an important part of the project.

If I can correctly recollect, back in 1970’s, my contemporary in IIT, Sugata Mitra, initiated ‘Hole in the Wall’ concept by installing computers in the wall to raise awareness about the computers amongst poor children in Delhi.

Role of Digital in the Indian Election 2014

The General Election earlier this year was the biggest the world has ever seen.

Indian General Elections 2014

Indian General Elections 2014

As many as 554 million of the 834 million eligible voters exercised their franchise at 930,000 polling booths, nearly 118 million more than were registered to vote in 2009.

Voter turnout in Indian General Elections 2014

Voter turnout in Indian General Elections 2014

The voter turnout was 66.4 per cent, the highest in democratic India, though it needs to increase further. There were 149 million first-time voters between 18 and 23 years of age and they were the primary target of the social media campaign. The Internet and Mobile Association of India estimates that a well-executed social media campaign can swing 3-4 per cent votes, which can be decisive in a multi-cornered contest. Thus, as we can see that digital adoption is slowly finding its way into the government departments. Let us hope the transition takes place sooner than later.

Source:

http://www.pwc.in/en_IN/in/assets/pdfs/publications/2013/smart-governance-and-technology.pdf http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/cabinet-clears-digital-india-programme/ http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-09-23/news/54239480_1_digital-india-google-india-rajan-anandan http://www.ibtimes.com/mark-zuckerberg-meets-narendra-modi-facebook-ceo-assures-contribution-digital-india-1703358 http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/s-y-quraishi-democracy-india-elections-process-media/1/394984.html

Satyamev Jayate: Extraordinary tales of Ordinary People

“In a gentle way you can shake the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

I have always been a firm believer in doing social community some good while I have the power and ability.
Everybody earns respect through his/her body of work but very few think about doing good to the society. In my opinion, medical doctors and teachers are a rare breed that constantly serves the society through their daily work.
Just a few days back, I overheard somebody saying at a party “It feels so much better now with Narendra Modi in power, no bureaucrat dares to hang out in Golf clubs wasting time and money of the people”. Do you also agree with the same?
While I agree that a good percentage of bureaucrats may be taking avoidable time span in decision making or for that matter delaying decisions, but what about the remaining bureaucrats who toil away 40 years of their lives to the service of people and nation? Such bureaucrats hardly have time to feast a month in a year and engage in their own business without caring for the society. I feel it was wrong on one’s part to form a judgment against the entire community of bureaucrats while observing only a select few. I am not saying this because I’m a retired bureaucrat but because I find it unfair. But yes, there is a dire need to change the perspective about bureaucrats by the bureaucratic community by working hard and producing tangible results.
It is heartening to see that Television and Bollywood has also taken a significant step in the direction of social cause. Here are a few shows that I can recall:

The most prominent amongst them is Satyamev Jayate, which is a joint venture between Aamir Khan Productions and Star Tv.

Satyamev-Jayate-Logo

Satyamev-Jayate-Logo

There are others that have made a mark in their own right:

Crime Patrol– It was one of the earliest shows that shed light on a lot of crimes that otherwise go unnoticed.

crime patrol

crime patrol

Change Aayega Hum Laayenge– It shows good guys in the youth and how they bring about change in the society.

change-aayega

change-aayega

The world has witnessed many celebrities who have taken up social causes close to their heart and have made a difference to the society.
Notable amongst them is Robert Redford who has been closely identified with the Green Movement.

George Clooney is helping forge the emerging model of 21st century celebrity activism through his relief telethon during Haiti Earthquake.

george clooney hope for haiti now

george clooney hope for haiti now

As a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations since 2001, Angelina Jolie has used her celebrity status to shine attention on the struggles of refugees everywhere from Cambodia and Thailand to Sierra Leone.

Angelina Jolie talks to to Syrian refugees in a camp on the Jordan-Syria border

Angelina Jolie talks to to Syrian refugees in a camp on the Jordan-Syria border

In India, Aamir Khan is the celebrity that comes to my mind who can cut through all strata of society and bring about a significant change in the mindset of people.
What I particularly like about the concept of Satyamev Jayate is its level of interactivity. People not only talk about their lives to Aamir Khan during the Television slot but also have a chance to post their views and opinions after the show gets over in ‘Mumkin hai’ segment.
I have been following the promos of Satyamev Jayate and I particularly like the one in which the office clerk who gets a bribe offer and instead of taking the bribe asks bribe-giver to watch Satyamev Jayate.

Satyamev-Jayate-2 promo

Satyamev-Jayate-2 promo

Satyamev-Jayate-3 promo

Satyamev-Jayate-3 promo

Satyamev-Jayate-4 promo

Satyamev-Jayate-4 promo

One of the episodes that I fondly remember is the Criminalization of Politics in which Dr. SY Quraishi, Chief Patron of Delhi Heritage Foundation, was invited and he enlighted the gathering about the malpractices in Voting process: http://www.satyamevjayate.in/criminalization-of-politics.aspx.
It was a true eye-opener.

Dr SY Quraishi, Former Chief Election Commissioner with Aamir Khan

Dr SY Quraishi, Former Chief Election Commissioner with Aamir Khan

Mr Aamir Khan and Mr Rajkumar Hirani were in Delhi for the shoot of upcoming Bollywood movie P.K last year. During the interaction with Mr. Khan, I told him that he may keep anchoring the show as people see him as a “change agent”. He replied in affirmative to do so.

with Aamir Khan

with Aamir Khan

Here is a preview of the insights of Satyamev Jayate:

Satyamev Jayate

Satyamev Jayate

Satyamev Jayate-Public Donations

Satyamev Jayate-Public Donations

Satyamev Jayate-Word Cloud

Satyamev Jayate-Word Cloud

Satyamev Jayate-Social Footprint

Satyamev Jayate-Social Footprint

Satyamev Jayate-Votes

Satyamev Jayate-Votes

 

I hope that Satyamev Jayate’s new episode starting from today shall keep the momentum going and shall bring to the fore the extraordinary contribution of the ordinary people.
I request you to take a moment and think what social good did you do today?

Source:
http://www.satyamevjayate.in/
http://www.india.com

Season of 330 million Gods is here! Incredible India!

The concept of Tourism started with Tirthatan, Deshathan and presently Paryatan. In India, religious tourism has its own significance, as it is generally a high-volume, low-end tourism.

About Navratri:

Navratri in Sanskrit means 9 nights. Shakti or feminine power is celebrated or worshiped during the sacred time of Navratri. Forms of Shakti worshipped during Navratri are: Durga, Bhadrakali, Amba, Annapoorna Devi, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandika, Lalita, Bhavani and Mookambika.

Navaratri

Navaratri

In Gujarat, Navratri is celebrated with great fervor with men and women dressed up in traditional Gujarati attire play garba every night during the navratri.

Navratri- Gujarat

Navratri- Gujarat

In West Bengal, Durga Puja is celebrated during the same time and images of Durga slaying the demon buffalo Mahishasura are built and displayed in temples.

Durga Puja Festival

Durga Puja Festival

About Dussehra:

Dussehra is the tenth day of Navratri and celebrated as the day Lord Rama defeated the demon king Ravan in Lanka.

Burning Ravana effigy

Burning Ravana effigy

In Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, Dussehra has its origins dating back to 17th century. One won’t see effigies burning. Thus, celebrations are a bit different but nothing less than spectacular. The 10 day event preceding Dussehra begins with the Rathyatra of Lord Rama to the Dhalpur maidaan. Then, the various Gods with processions and bands arrive and the Gaddi shepherds come down from their homes in the hills to sing, dance and praise the gods.

26th Sept Kullu dusshera3

Bed and Breakfast during Dussehra

Foreign tourist particularly from Europe and USA, visit India during this time to witness the celebrations and become part of such celebrations. This is where the importance of Bed and Breakfast comes in as the they like to visit Ramlila, Durga puja pandals, burning of effigies of Ravana, Meghnad and Kumbkaran and have real feeling of existence of 330 million Gods of Incredible India!

Buddha Religious circuit

Keeping in view the tremendous potential of Religious Tourist arrival, Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India, has launched Buddha circuit that includes sites of significance related to the life of the Buddha and is sacred to 500 million Buddhists and also attracts non-Buddhist tourists interested in historical heritage sites such as Bodhgaya in Bihar, Sarnath and Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, and Lumbini in Nepal.

buddhist circuit

buddhist circuit

Swachata Abhiyan

Small things make big impact! Prime Minister, Narendra Modi launched Cleanliness drive on 2nd October. As Prime Minister, he was advised to expand his vision but he understood the importance of cleanliness and hygiene to attract more tourists besides raising the standard of living.

Swachhata Abhiyan

Swachhata Abhiyan

In India, Dussehra, Diwali and Holi are celebrated with fervor and gaiety. This festive season of Dussehra and Diwali is no less important than Christmas celebration in December. Delhi bustles with activity and one can find frequent traffic jams all over the city but it does not lessen the enthusiasm of the people. In India, the tourism season starts from mid-September and goes on till March in most of the regions.

 

Month Foreign Tourist Arrival, 2013 Change in FTA from previous month %age change in FTA from previous month
September 453561
October 598095 144534 32%
November 733923 135828 22%
December 821581 87658 12%

 

As the data shows, the months of Sept-December account for almost 60% of Foreign Tourist Arrival in India.

As a closing remark, I hope that during this festive season and pro-active governance, there will be an increase in Foreign Tourist and Foreign Exchange Earnings.

Credits:

www.tourism.gov.in | www.wbginvestmentclimate.org |  www.india.com

Ahoy! Happy World Tourism Day

Many people associate tourism with a recreational activity but as per UNWTO, Tourism is a people-based economic activity built on social interaction. It prospers if it engages the local population by contributing to social values.

World Tourism Day

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) declared 27 September the World Tourism Day with the purpose to raise the awareness of the global community about the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, economic and political value. World Tourism Day (WTD) is a global observance to highlight tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value.

The theme of this year’s World Tourism Day is Tourism and Community Development which is sync with the Bed and Breakfast scheme.

UNWTO Theme WTD 2014

UNWTO Theme WTD 2014

Tourism and Bed & Breakfast industry

The Bed and Breakfast industry is not a new concept in the world though it is adopted as a novel idea in the B&B scheme of “Incredible India” over the age old practice of “paying guest accommodation in India”. As per figures of foreign tourist arrival as mentioned in (MoT, Statistics at a Glance, 2012), in countries like France (8.02%), USA (6.3%), China (5.57%), Spain (5.57%), Italy (4.48%) where maximum percentage of foreign tourists arrive every year the shortage of regular commercial accommodation is met by the B&B stays prevalent in these countries but in different modes.

UNWTO Definition of Tourism

UNWTO Definition of Tourism

According to Caroll Cathy, an author of “Travel Weekly”, the utility of B&B type accommodation is increasing as many business travelers are finding that B&B inns suit their needs, and owners are furnishing these guests such equipments as private telephones and computer connection.

The ‘B&B stay’ concept helps in saving huge additional infrastructure costs towards construction of hotels, recycling of waste water, electricity generation ,and  cutting of trees etc. and other materials required for creating additional facilities for accommodation.

Bed and Breakfast logo

Bed and Breakfast

In a country like India, additional land for constructing more hotels is made available by shrinking of forest land, cutting of trees, generation of more electricity & water etc. In Delhi, there is always a shortage of accommodation particularly in budget category during the period of various festivals, carnivals, conventions, functions, national and international conferences etc. These events are generally planned from September to March every year where large number of foreign and domestic tourists arrive in Delhi thereby increasing the demand for more accommodation.

Celebrations in India

Celebrations in India

This day last year

I remember clearly that on this day, last year, as the Managing Director, Delhi Tourism (DTTDC), our Department had facilitated the shooting of the upcoming Rajkumar Hirani’s Bollywood movie PK (Peekay), best known for its Nude-Aamir-Khan poster, in the bustling streets of Delhi by getting the various permissions from various departments.

PK poster- Aamir Khan

PK poster- Aamir Khan

To appreciate our effort, the crew of Peekay held a dinner for Delhi Tourism where we interacted with Aamir Khan, his son, Mr Rajkumar Hirani, Anoushka Sharma and other members.

with Aamir Khan

with Aamir Khan

Interesting facts Bed and Breakfast establishments in Delhi

In a recent survey of around 50 Bed and Breakfast establishments (out of about 350 total B&Bs), some interesting facts were revealed. There is a group of substantial number of domestic tourists who stayed in lower tariff of B&B units at Rs. 1500 to Rs. 2000 per month (equivalent to US 25$ to 34$). These are generally those tourists who came to Delhi for pilgrimage. However, most of domestic and foreign tourists stayed in the tariff range of Rs. 3500 – Rs. 4500 (US 60$ – US 70$) per night. Average stay of tourists was 3 days in Delhi. Most of the B&B units are located in South Delhi particularly in Vasant Kunj, CR Park, Greater Kailash, Hauz Khas, East of Kailash and Kailash Colony. Out of total foreign tourists staying in B&B units, majority are from USA & UK (20%), followed by Australia (13%), Germany (12%) & France (11%). Chinese tourists seem to avoid B&B establishments). These tourists, generally, visit three world heritage sites in Delhi namely, Red Fort, Qutub Minar and Humayun Tomb.

Red Fort in Delhi

Red Fort in Delhi

Qutub Minar in Delhi

Qutub Minar

Humayun's Tomb in Delhi

Humayun’s Tomb

Some of the tourists visit Akshardham Temple, Bahai Temple, Jama Masjid also. Most take taxis or package tours of Delhi as these are cheaper compared to other cities in the world. Unlike cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, London, etc. there are not many souvenir shops in Delhi. However, Dilli Haat is popular among tourists and serves as a good shopping stop for souvenirs, handlooms and handicrafts. While Dilli Haat purchases are less costly, some foreign tourists also prefer to make such purchases from Janpath street shops at slightly higher rates.

Crockery items in Janpath

Crockery items in Janpath courtesy: cpdiary.com

The tourists staying at homestays in Delhi very well know where from to purchase, how to travel within the city and where to eat at reasonable rates. The tourists staying in hotels have lesser choice of interacting with people, though they are also able to avail such information through sites like India Tourism, Delhi Tourism and other websites of local travel agencies. Delhi gets maximum number of tourists in the months from September to February.

These data are generally taken from DTTDC and are incorporated in the author’s Ph.D. thesis and research article “Economics of B&B Scheme of Delhi” published in July’13 issue of SAJTH.

Why should you visit India amidst security concerns?

In India, Tourism was first conceived as Tirthatan (religious travel) then as Deshatan (travel around the country) and finally as Paryatan with the sole purpose of promoting intermingling among people of neighboring states, to acquaint them with the culture of the host country.

In India, hospitality is based on the principle of Atithi Devo Bhava, i.e. “the guest is god.” Here people live in unity though there is diversity in Caste, Creed and Culture. During various festivals, all the communities including Hindus, Muslims, Christians and others enjoy with great fervor and gaiety. Neighbours share their joy during family functions and also console each other at times of mourning. All Indian religions follow the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and sharing of joys & sorrows with a sense of togetherness.

 

atithi_devo_2

Atithi devo bhava- Incredible India

Thus, India has something for every tourist who wishes to get a taste of the unique culture of India. There are

  • 22 languages with 1542 dialects
  • 27 world heritage sites
  • 7500 km. of coastline
  • 9000 years old history, civilization and heritage
  • 55,000 km. of lakes, streams and rivers
  • 476 forts and palaces

India is also well known as a rich culinary heritage destination. It boasts of the following:

  • 70 million hectares of forest
  • 147 dance forms
  • 5000 years of experience in Ayurveda and Yoga.

If you enjoy having morning tea then India is a must visit! There are a large number of “Tea states” totaling 1641 in India.

 

Tea plantation

Tea plantation in India via 3 blog.shantitravel.com

 

Furthermore, India is host to almost 60% of the world’s tiger population. There are 60 national parks, 400 wild life sanctuaries.

 

Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat

Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat

 

If you still have doubts about visiting India with your friends and family, feel free to reach me at ggsaxena@gmail.com or +91 9810603010.