A connection between two regions can be achieved by constructing a bridge. The two regions might be different worlds on their own, but the bridge provides a path to merge them, to make them one, to provide an opportunity for the people from either of the worlds to explore newer verticals and achieve substantial growth. Well, here in this world of ours which we call “India”, the two regions are the government and the people. Many factors like illiteracy in rural areas, illogical belief systems, ignorance of the urban youth separate the government from most of the people in our country. This is why we need a bridge called “E-governance” with “technology” acting as the pillars supporting that bridge. Once such a structure is setup successfully, I believe that we can easily achieve the vision of #DigitalIndia .
Generally, people in India are either misinformed or less-informed and either of them is equally dangerous. This is why I feel that we must utilize the willingness of many others, who could help connect the masses and educate them to self-sustain and be fully informed about the government, the services and benefits that they are provided with or those which can be availed. So, I would like to share my opinions and thoughts on how technology along with people can help in creating a Digital India that can form a leading factor of the country’s growth.
The vision of digital India involves using technology paired with the internet to make people’s work easier with respect to the government services. It would also integrate various systems in the Government, business and customer environments to enhance the quality of information/service provided.
Firstly, I’ll talk about the rural areas that dominate India with villages and small towns. Most of the people here are farmers, masons, etc. where the literacy levels are low. Technology can be very helpful here. Smart phones are taking over the mobile markets and they are available at very low prices, and thus have succeeded in percolating to most of the people in these rural areas. So, a person in their community with some educational background and knowledge about the internet can educate others in the community about the internet and using it for searching and gaining the required information. Organisations such as Intel with their “Digital Skills for India” and Microsoft with their rural development initiatives have come up with solution to various problems like healthcare, business and financial informative courses in multiple different local languages. But in my opinion, there could be other things added to this. Since using mobile phones requires only reading ability and experience in using it, even people with less or no education will understand how to operate it to get information regarding a particular topic. Following are a few points that I think can be implememted:
- A universal application can be created that initially requires the people to select their areas of interest followed by their preferred language. Here Universal means that it should be built on an open platform that can support collaboration.
- Once an open collaborative platform exists, people who know a language can become contributors to make the application available in not just a few languages but cover much more than that. Here technology can be used as a community tool for collaboration.
- Panchayats can hold mandatory sessions to educate people on the government services provided and how it can be availed. This would require a minimalist approach to design the applications and mobile websites so that only the required information can be delivered easily without much of a hassle. Importance should be given to how the information is presented, because if it is complicated then the people will start rejecting it, irrespective of what information is being provided.
Also, e-governance can be enhanced by combining the various wings of the government. This would mean that we can integrate the various services and secure it in the cloud (for example), so that it can be accessible from anywhere.
Here is an example: If the systems used by agriculture department can be integrated with the education board for farming and also weather prediction board, and if this integrated system can be enabled as a cloud service, then, in villages, the educated people can be employed for using these services to provide all the required information regarding agriculture, the weather analysis and education to farmers or other community members, all from a single service. It can then be used to analyse how this integrated service is working when compared to individual distributed services and this can form a quantitative measure of growth.
As an example in the urban cities of our country, a cloud service that integrates the development board of the centre and the development board of the state can enable every user to login and find out what the government is spending on and how the governments at these two levels are tied up.
Here are a few ways I feel technology can help e-governance in the urban world to create a digitized ecosystem:
- Modern schools are shifting to tablets and PCs to inculcate practical based learning. And so, at the education level, the informational wing of e-governance can use technologies such as android applications or standalone software to provide interactive training to students regarding the various fundamentals of our government, right from our constitution to the government setup, or even to the present working scenarios. The interactive way of learning will not only engage students but could help in cultivating an idea growing habit among them. And thus a platform can be created where young minds submit their new ideas and viewpoints which can be analysed to provide key insights into the effect of government on the young minds.
- Once the integrated systems are in place and are providing a wide variety of information, a forum can be provided for the people where they can login with their accounts and provide inputs on many of the issues, work or services taken up by the government. Thus here again, the analytics and mining technologies can be used to obtain a sentiment analysis of the people regarding an issue and this forms a feedback to the government about what the people feel about that issue or a service and also indirectly gets the people involved in the decision making process.
- Technology can help people to get involved in government projects. Mobile applications can be used with the e-governance platform providing location based information about ongoing project near to a person. The app can then list out the work that needs to be done and the skillset required by the person to do it. People having the skillset can then volunteer in those projects nearby to them whenever they can. This way, community participation increases and the work can get done faster. Weather it may be cleaning a place, or a river, or spreading information about a new development plan or a project or to educate people on topics that concern them need voluntary participation and thus technology can help in achieving it faster. In this case the e-governance platform acts as a mediator or an information provider.
I think that achieving the vision of Digital India is possible through sustained and combined efforts of the organisations, people and the government. But the more challenging aspect is holding the achievement of being “Digital India”. Since many people tend to get ignorant very soon or think they don’t have time, the efforts put in might not reach its true worth. One way to hold what we would have achieved is to make sure that technology will be used as a part of e-governance to helps people during their day to day life or probably during their work.
One way this can be realised is by using real time automated support systems to help the people of this country. Let me give a few examples:
- If a farmer has to purchase fertilisers for his land and if he is unsure as to what to buy, he can use this government service portal (which is a part of e-governance), where the portal provides a set of fertilisers along with the damage it does and the crops it is used for. So here, the farmer can enter the amount of fertiliser that he thinks he needs, and the crop he wants to grow and the size of his farm. One these inputs are given the portal, in real time it should provide the required results . If he then changes one of the input parameters then the changes in results must also be shown instantly.
- Senior citizens might be confused about the benefits given to them with loans or interest on a bank account. So here again, a real time system can allow them to use this helping service thorough a simple interface to click on what they are looking for and get the results. They can change the parameters to see how the benefits will vary and take an appropriate decision.
These are just some examples of using technology to keep the vision of “Digital India” alive and going. And some or all of the opinions I have shared above might help to make full utilisation of e-governance.
I consider myself to be a responsible citizen of India and I look forward to participate and share the advancement that are being implemented in the field of e-governance. I would like to thank Intel for their support to achieve this broad vision of #DigitalIndia.