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

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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