Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Digital India : Empowered government... Empowered citizens

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world today. There have been reforms targeting different sectors in each era which have led our country to the path of progress and now it is time for the government to adopt Information Technology as a key enabler for moving ahead.
Digital India is one such initiative where the government along with Intel plans to connect with the citizens on a deeper level while utilizing the benefits of Information technology.

So here are my thoughts on how technology would revolutionize governance and empower citizens.

1. (Agriculture) Elimination of middlemen - Although already some of the corporate sector are buying direct produce from the farmers, but still most of the agriculture production is handled by middlemen and farmers are cheated because they are not technologically equipped. Digital skills and Internet kiosks in villages will ensure that they know the market value of their produce and are more equipped to bargain a better price for their agricultural production.
Image Source

2. (Agriculture) Dependence on monsoons - Believe it or not, most of our farmers still depend on monsoon for irrigation. Canals, rainwater harvesting, dams do empower them to a certain extent but a daily/weekly weather report can do wonders and save a lot of our crop from spoiling. With the knowledge of weather predictions, farmer can take the right decisions at the right time.

Image Source
3. Reduce Corruption: India is ranked as 85th out of 175 countries in the list of corruption index (Source: Wikipedia) Despite of having Right to Information Act (RTI) in place, it still seems a long way to stop corruption at government offices. The reason is that simply creating laws will not help the citizens, they need to be educated about them too. With the digital skills program, people will be more aware of their rights and equipped to connect to the government directly. This would increase the transparency in the processes and reduce corruption.
Image Source
4. Elimination of the Agent-Raj : Just like the govt. did away with the license Raj in the 1990's, now is the time to get rid of the Agent-raj that is going on in this country. I remember I had gone to the RTO office to apply for my license. As soon as I entered the compound of the building, some 20 agents surrounded me. "Madam, license banvana hai?", "Gaadi transfer karani hai?", "Madam, only Rs1000, sab kaam karta hu". I decided that I am a responsible citizen and I will not fall prey to these agents, no matter what, I will apply for my license myself.

Image Source
And do you know what the result was - It took me 17 trips to the RTO, filling the same form over 10 times, waiting for more than 22 hours ("Saheb 3 bje aayenge", "Abhi nahi hai.. kal aana", "Firse form bharo, mistake hai?", "aap bangalore ke nahi hai", "Address proof valid nahi hai" etc etc etc)
and finally I got my license. I guess it would have been cheaper and much hassle free if I would have asked an agent and paid him 1000 bucks. The scenario is not much different in other govt. office.
On the contrary, the passport office seems a complete contrast to my license episode. Everything is digitally connected, smooth and transparent. Amazing what technology can do.

5. Judiciary Reforms - As per a survey, there was more than 3 crore court cases pending in the country and on a average it will 320 years for the courts sort out all these cases, which is humanly impossible. This means that there are people whose cases will be pending for their entire lifetimes or more to get justice. It may be difficult to expedite the judiciary process by digitizing it but if a person can view online the status of his appeal, the next hearing date and what is going on, it fosters hope, that someday justice will be granted.There are many people who have lost hope and do not trust the judicial system in India, a simple technology can bring hopes and optimism in so many lives.

Image Source
6. Environmental reforms - A simple carpooling app can go a long way to help people share rides along the way and not only save the precious fuel and our environment, also reduce the traffic rants of people in cities like Bangalore. When such apps are a success abroad, then why not in India?
Image Source: PickUpPal
7. Police reforms: Digitization would empower the citizens to track their complaints and their status and also empower the police to easily search history sheeters on their database and ease of maintaining records. There are cases in villages where the police simply refuses to file an FIR, these will also be minimized if the rural population is aware of their rights and empowered to raise their concerns on online forums.

Image Source
8. Education for everyone: The web, in true sense, globalizes the mindset of students. With the advertisements doing rounds on how people learn so much using the internet, it is well known that internet opens a world of opportunities which does not discriminate between the rich and poor, the urban and rural. This will be a great boom for the rural students who do not have the right infrastructure, schools or teachers to guide them. With basic internet surfing and computer skills and an internet kiosk in each village, learning can be made open to everyone.
Image Source

8. Women Safety: Much is talked about how women in our country can be made to feel safe. With so many cases coming to light from our very own capital city, it seems that no woman is safe in any corner of the country at any time of the day. A safety app on our mobile phone where a woman can message the police and intimate about the danger will make her feel safe in the city and she would walk with confidence even when she is alone. A digital skills program for women would ensure that they are at least capable of raising their voice to the govt. departments, NGOs through different channels about their concerns.
Image Source
8. Public Grievances: Urban consumers use Facebook, twitter and other social networking sites to share their grievances against a product or a service, and these complaints go viral within a matter of days. The service provider is left is no option but to oblige and rectify the problem as soon as possible since his reputation is at stake. A similar approach can be followed with a Public Grievance portal where citizens can raise their concerns, discuss, comment and communicate more openly with the government.

Image Source
Somewhere I feel that the rural population lacks in these aspects since they are not educated and do not have the digital skills to collaborate on online platform. The Digital Skill for India program will go a long way in helping them and shaping the future of the nation.

Hope to see a more empowered and digitally connected India in the coming years.

This contest is written for #DigitalIndia contest on Indiblogger in association with Intel.

No comments:

Post a Comment