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My Take on E-Governance For A Digitized India


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~* This post was declared a Winner in the Digtial India Contest organised by Intel and fetched me a 2nd prize - Micromax Canvas Tab P666. *~

The success or failure of a country can be gauged with the lifestyle of a normal middle class citizen because it directly depends on the facilities that the government is providing for a normal peaceful life. For example, when we see a child, just by looking at the child's hair, dress, jewellery, shoes and skin, we can gauge the lifestyle his parents are providing him.

I browsed the internet to get a good definition of E-Governance and I was very impressed with the words used. I have combined the information available in a few different sites and it says something like this "E-Governance is technology-driven and in a democratic country like India, it is about freedom of expression and access to information. It is a transparent way to deliver government services and exchange information with citizens in a convenient and transparent way , saving time and money." This is absolutely right.

But to keep it simple, in layman terms, according to me, E-Governance means how the government is using the available technology to govern the country and provide effectively and efficiently for it's people.

Some of the basic issues which a normal person in India faces are:
a) Ration Card and LPG Connection
b) Cleanliness in our Neighbourhood
c) Facilities for Senior Citizens and Handicaps
d) Parking Enforcement
e) Vehicle Inspection
f) Lack of Transparency in our Current System
g) Availability of Schedule for local transport:
h) Birth Certificate

The Issues and the Fix/Solution to them according to me are as below:

Ration Card and LPG Connection:
ISSUE 1:My maid with SSN# is 42 years old with 2 grown up sons and a useless drunkard husband lives in a Jhopadpatti/slum in Mumbai and hence, she does not have an address proof. Lack of address proof prevented her from getting a ration card and LPG connection. It further prevented her from opening a bank account. So, her life will remain as miserable as ever. 
ISSUE 2: When I got married, my husband and I tried removing our names from our parent's ration card and opening a family ration card for ourselves. Due to lack of proper online arrangements, we had to run from one government office to the other and we were provided with contradicting information, we were asked to simply pay bribe for quicker service, we were asked for different things at different times like stamp size photo, self attested copy of certain certificates etc etc and there was no way of checking the status of progress. The easiest way we were told was to simply pay the officials and forget about it till we actually see the new ration card. But, this is not happened even to this day.
ISSUE 3:Based on the income status, ration cards are categorized so people below the income belt receive more incentives. In my village, except 2 honest families, everybody paid up the officials and got below the income level certificate and earn the incentives. This was started for a good cause but it became a reason for growth of corruption because there is absolutely no checks and no accountability from the Government. Bills are passed but there should be a way to follow through on this.
ISSUE 4:For Booking LPG cylinder, I have seen old people catching buses/autos to reach the gas station and standing in queues. After a few weeks, when the gas cylinder does not arrive, they call up to check but they are asked to come to the station again. When Aadhar card came into picture, all were asked to book gas cylinders via the Aadhar card number but it didn't work out.
FIX/SOLUTION (according to me):
a) Government can come up with an effective online system which should track the complete history (income, children, their education etc) against the SSN. Then the ration card system should be linked with the SSN. So when an individual wants to apply for a new ration card, edit an existing one etc, the online system should allow the individual to apply online and the system should calculate the eligibility and do the necessary. 
b) This results in less hassle for the citizen and leads to demolishing corruption.
c) The online system should have a system to accept complaints from citizens as well  and the Government should have strict rules to hold the concerned accountable with appropriate punishment incase some of some wrong doings.
d) I realise that recently Aadhar Card drive started with the above notion in mind but millions of money was spent on this drive but the ultimate goal was forgotten because there was no accountability.

Clean Neighbourhood - When we go to someone's home, seeing the home, we can gauge about the character of the owner of the home. Same logic goes for a country.
ISSUE 1:In the locality I lived, people had the attitude that only their homes should be clean and nothing else bothers them. They would just throw trash on the road even though a dust bin was just there. This leads to so many air borne diseases, epidemics.
ISSUE 2:People themselves pee on the streets without any shame. So what can we expect from animals. In western countries, when people walk their dogs, they carry bags to pick up their poop to keep their country clean. My friend in US practiced the above strictly. He would never allow his dog poop laying outside, but I saw that the moment he entered India he would just not bother doing the same instead he contributed to the trash on the road by spitting or throwing used soda bottles/cigarettes etc. Did you think why the same person behaves differently in two countries?
a) Government should have officials from the concerned department completely accountable for the cleanliness of particular regions. They should be levying strict rules, checks and fines in-case of defaults. 
b) Government should have an effective online system to issue tickets to offenders and enable offenders to pay fines in-case of defaults and these tickets/offenses/fines should be tracked against their SSNs.
c) Government should come up "CREDIT SCORE SYSTEM" like in some western countries which is an online system which provides scores to citizens based on their data tagged to the SSN. Incase of offenses, the score should go down.This score should impact everything in the citizen's life like the home loan interest %, car loan interest %, insurance per month etc. If the citizen pays his bills/loans/fines on time, then the score should go up. So, the citizen would do everything in his power to maintain his credit score. Accordingly, everything will fall in place slowly. This is one great way of showing accountability to the system.
d) The above mentioned point is being followed in some western countries and the results are outstanding.
e) Ofcourse, government should maintain public rest rooms in a good condition. As of now, the state is that only men dare to enter rest rooms with their noses closed.
f) There were a few drives that was initiated towards a clean India like Total Sanitation campaign in 1999, Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan in 2012 and Swachha Bharat Abhiyan in 2014 which is highly appreciative but I feel that there has to be some accountability setup to achieve this goal.
g) Bangalore started an initiative of garlanding people found urinating in public places. This is also an amazing way to eradicate this issue.

Importance to Senior Citizens and Handicaps:
ISSUE 1:Road are filled with potholes making it impossible for older members to walk fearlessly. One road in-front of my complex was being repaired. Its a small road but it was under construction for more than 6 months and my neighbour fell in those potholes twice and had a hairline fracture both times in the same area! This is a real incident which I witnessed.
ISSUE 2:Senior Citizens need a lot more medical help than others. Most of them are under regular medication for most part of their lives remaining. But they are forced to go to the medical store, wait in line to get their medications.
ISSUE 3:Incases of medical emergencies, we can call 101 but most of the time its too late by the time help arrives because of negligent medical staff or traffic which prevents the ambulance from arriving in time.
ISSUE 4:After retirement, pension is something that keeps a senior citizen handle his day to day expenses. But, getting the pension approved in itself is a big task. They are forced to go to the pension office a million times, they are forced to bribe to get their own pension.Once approved, they have to go to the same pension office one a year and sign to prove that they are still alive to collect pension. This is such a hassle for the old people.
a) Government should enforce accountability. A great initiative was started in Mumbai known as "Drive to Fill Potholes" according to which if a citizen finds a pothole, he just had to take a photo and send it to the concerned and they would track it via google map and fill it within a week or so. There was also an app for donations for the same issue. I think this was not very successful because of lack of accountability. (Readers - Please correct me if I am wrong here)
b) There is accountability taken to send most expensive satellites to various planets then fixing potlucks should be a cakewalk.
c) There should be an online system which will tell citizens in advance, when and which road will be dug up and the time frame for completion so everybody can plan accordingly.
d) The online system should hold the contractor accountable for the road to be without potholes for a minimum period of 5 years. If potholes come up, then that contractor will repair it on his own cost. Else heavy fines should be levied. This will also diminish corruption.
e) If an ambulance passes by, traffic police has instructed citizens to give way but does this happen always? Every single life is important so this rule should be followed always with zero error. If it does not happen, the traffic police should issue tickets online to those drivers who didn't give way. And this should reflect against their SSN which should reduce their CREDIT SCORE which will then automatically impact other factors. If fines are not paid in time, then the online system should impact the credit score more.
f) For senior citizens' medicine renewal, online systems should be in place where the patient can access his medical profile online and request to renew his prescription. The delivery should happen at his home.
Government should strive to make senior citizens and handicaps independent.
g) For retired senior members, the online system should allow them to apply for pension while they have about 3 months to retire and one week before they retire, they should get an email notification with the status. They should have access to online system which will show them when their pension will be approved, the amount paid every month etc. The online system should have features which provides an option to perform biometrics authentication once a year to ensure that the pensioner is still alive and wants to collect pension instead of making them run around. This also helps diminish corruption.

Parking Enforcement
ISSUE:People feel that they are so busy that they have the permission to park anywhere and everywhere. It leads to accidents and unnecessary road blockages.
FIX/SOLUTION: Government should enforce strict rules and should hold the traffic police accountable for this activity. The parking enforcement officials should keep patrolling and should issue tickets. These tickets should then be linked to their SNN number which will have impact to their credit score. All this should be a part of their efficient online system.

Vehicle Inspection
ISSUE:Plenty accidents are happening today also because the vehicles they are driving are not fit enough and never passed the inspection test but those drivers manage to get the license renewed purely by bribing the officer. Thus endangering lives. The height is that school bus who are not fit are also passing inspection endangering lives of little kids.
FIX/SOLUTION: There should be an online system which should have updated vehicles details for every citizen which should be linked back to their SSN. There should be regular emission test, inspection test and the results again updated. The vehicle insurance should not be renewed if these tests fail and the same should be tracked in the online system. When the vehicle ages, the online system should track and revoke the license of that individual. This will definitely eliminate corruption as well.

Lack of Transparency in our Current System:
ISSUE: Citizens religiously used to pay taxes but the issues like potholes, poverty remained the same. We have no way of finding out what happens to the taxes that is paid to the government. So, many youngsters prefer not to pay their taxes and this is having adverse impact on the government. 
FIX/SOLUTION: There should be an online system which gives the citizens complete detail on how much taxes were received, how many citizens paid, what is being done, what is the plan to do with the left over, time lines for the same etc. There should be regular updates to the website as well. This will provide a transparent system which is the key feature for E-Governance.

Availability of Schedule for local transport:
ISSUE: There is a schedule available for Buses and trains but it hardly follows the schedule.
The online system should have updated schedules and if it is not followed then there must be rules to fine the concerned personnel and it should impact his promotion at work.
If buses/trains are delayed then there must be real time updates to this online system.
Issue of tickets should be available online or at kiosks at the station instead of buying it from the conductors only.

Birth Certificate: 
ISSUE 1: I faced this issue personally last year 2014. I was born in a very tiny village and the hospital in which I was born did not exist now. So, in-order to get my birth certificate, we had to hire a lawyer who booked a case in the court. We waited 4 months to get a hearing date as this was supposedly a low priority case. Once the judge agreed to issue my birth certificate, we were asked to go to another department which was about 1.5 hours away. They asked us to come back after 15 days for the birth certificate. When we did finally receive the birth certificate, my mother's name was spelt incorrectly. When we reported it, we were asked to simply adjust. 
ISSUE 2: When my daughter was born in 2012, the hospital asked us to fill all the details regarding birth certificate but they didn't mandate it.
a) All necessary requirements must be taken from parents for issuing Birth Certificate mandatorily else mother and child should not be allowed to be discharged from the hospital.
b) Online systems are now pretty good for the current generation but something has to be done to migrate all the old data into this online system so that everybody can get it easily. Today, I know three more friends who are struggling to get their birth certificates.

Kudos to some of the improvements that are going on as a result of the drive to make India Digitized and to enforce E-Governance:
Tax Filing and Tracking:
Earlier, we used to pay to vendors to file tax and we had to go to the tax office or pay the vendors to get updates. But now, the online system has become so much efficient. I have been filing my taxes online and I get my returns directly deposited to my account. I am yet to get my returns to past few years though.

Property Tax:
My friend is from Tamil Nadu but has a property in Bangalore. In-order to pay the property tax, he used to go to the concerned office which took him 2.5 hours in traffic, then he had to fill the form which will be in the local language (Kannada). So, every year, he paid the officials how much ever they demanded to help fill the form in Kannada and get approval signatures from 2 level managers. He used to ultimately, spend Rs.600 for this task and spend more than half a day as well. But now, it can be paid online. The online system has details of previous years as well so its a great repository as well. Such a relief. I have been using this online system since last two years!

PAN Card and Passport Services:
Completely online now. If we have to update any information on the PAN or Passport, we have to fill the online system, pay the relevant fees and its taken care of without much hassle unlike before. This is such a great blessing for busy citizens and old citizens.

Buying homes:
Buying homes is so much easier now. Registering homes, applying for loan, loan sanction, loan payment and tracking have become so easy because of efficient online systems unlike before. We even get the agreement in a CD for easier storage.

Intel's Initiatives towards achieving a Digital India:
Intel has launched initiatives like 'Innovate for India' and  'Digital Skills for India Program' towards the mission for Digitizing India
They aim to train 5 Million people by 2015-End.
Intel India will also work with Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) to build capacity by imparting digital literacy training to key resource persons in the first 1,000 Panchayats under the National Optic Fiber Network roll-out in India.

Challenges that might come:
In a developing country like India, there are a lot more challenges that will come up to achieve E-governance like:
a) Cyber Security.
b) Non-availability of internet in villages.
c) No supporting infrastructure such as electricity, computers and connectivity in various regions across India.
d) Huge Population, diverse culture and languages.
e) Resistance to change in work culture.
f) Lack of communication between departments.
g) E-Governance is supposed to eradicate corruption but it can become a cause for more corruption.

E-Governance impacts every individual directly in a country but in a developing country like India, everybody lives with the attitude "As long as my family and I are safe and sound, I don't care about what happens to the rest of the country/Government" and everybody is living their own day to day life and planning their own future. Let's all pledge to work hand in hand with companies like Intel in achieving the dream of a DIGITAL INDIA.

E-Governance is A Necessity for Digitized India.

Hum Honge Kaamyaab. Jai Hind!

The above post is written for Intel for the topic "How can E-Governance through technology can accelerate the vision for a Digital India". You can read more such posts on #DigitalIndia.


Awesome presentation and valid points. Good luck! :)

So much work you've done behind this post. Well-deserved win! Congratulations!

Simply Superb !!! great work..keep it up.

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