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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Swachata Abhiyan: The ideal way forward!

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”- Michael Jordan.

After many years, today I feel very contented. This morning when I woke up and was getting through my daily chores, I heard slogans by nearby school children in my residential area, “Thoda toh haath badhao, Bharat ko Swachch banao” which in English means ‘Do your bit to make India clean’.

Cleanliness drive by students

Cleanliness drive by students via avenuemail.in

It was indeed heartening to see those young children imbibing the values of a clean India. Fortunately, our PM Narendra Modi has the vision of a clean India and has stressed it as the way forward. During his speech in USA, he said that he was asked by others to have a vision and he translated the Vision into a clean India vision. As rightly pointed out by PM Modi, every family shall be saving Rs. 6000-7000 a month by saving on on medical expenses due to lack of unhygienic conditions and since bread-earners will not fall sick as frequently due to clean environment, he/she will be able to avoid absenteeism from workplace and earn more. This shall be beneficial to the nation, as it will increase the productivity of the entire nation. The cleanliness drive around religious places shall increase the number of religious tourists and will provide employment opportunities.

Ravi Shankar Prasad during Cleanliness drive

Ravi Shankar Prasad during Cleanliness drive

Ok so here is an exercise for you, take 2 minutes to think of 10 countries that might be the cleanest in the world. When I did the exercise, I could only think of countries such as Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Iceland etc. Were you able to think of any Asian or African country in the 10 cleanest countries list?

In a study done by Forbes.com in 2010 to rank the World’s 10 Cleanest countries, one would expect the list to be full of European countries. However, to my surprise, there were 3 countries in the list that were of smaller size and having lower GDP than India.

Costa Rica: That such a relatively poor and developing country ranks third in the EPI is testament to the natural endowments of Costa Rica, with dense forests, plentiful water and abundant wildlife.

Costa Rica- Forbes 10 cleanest country

Costa Rica- Forbes 10 cleanest country

Mauritius: A tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean to the east of Madagascar, Mauritius is far and away the highest-ranking nation of Sub-Saharan Africa!

Mauritius- Forbes 10 cleanest country

Mauritius- Forbes 10 cleanest country

Cuba: Researchers doubt the veracity of Cuba’s data, which shows higher levels of public health, (including almost universal access to sanitation and clean water) than GDP would suggest.

Cuba- Forbes 10 cleanest country

Cuba- Forbes 10 cleanest country

In my opinion, the above mentioned countries have earned their place in the ranking by making optimum use of the available resources. But do you think that India cannot achieve the same? Is India not endowed with dense forests, water, abundant wildlife? Instead, I feel that rich cultural heritage of India is an add-on.

Mt. Everest

Mt. Everest

Sunset at Radhanagar beach

Sunset at Radhanagar beach

Varanasi ganga

Varanasi ganga

Experience Heritage of India 4.bp.blogspot.com

In my opinion, it is just a matter of mindset and a spark that shall pave the way for a Clean India. The spark has been provided by the Prime Minister, now it is up to us to follow suit and make India more live-able and more like-able.

Let us take the Swachata pledge:

pledge

Take the pledge

1. I shall not spit in public and discourage others from doing so.
2. I shall not litter in public and discourage others from doing so.
3. I shall not urinate in open areas and discourage others from doing so.
4. I shall not encroach area.
5. I shall not write anything on monuments of historic significance and discourage others from doing so.

If each of us follow the pledge, we shall serve ourselves and the community.
Most importantly, we will be able to sleep satisfactorily.

Source:
http://www.forbes.com