“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance…”

Into the 69th year of our Independence and our tryst with destiny continues. We have come a long way, yet many newer paths have yet to be discovered. While water, education, sanitation, health and employment are sectors that have demanded undivided attention over the years, and have yet to reach newer heights; transformation through digital literacy is the new initiative on the anvil.  The #DigitalIndia Campaign ably supported by Intel is a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility endeavour. It aims at nurturing technology to be the nexus of a digitized India via the ‘Digital Skills for India’ and ‘Innovate for India’ programmes.

Digital India

For a country that is greeted by diversity every 200 kms, being the largest democracy comes with its share of third world problems. When you have 29 states, 7 Union Territories and 22 official languages, unity in diversity can be reduced to mere terminology. Adopting newer ideas to run the country efficiently is the need of the hour. And when the Prime Minister of India believes in going the distance via social media, E-Governance seems to be a step in the right direction.

Digital India needs a Three Pronged Approach

E-Governance seems plausible assuming a safe and secure cyberspace is made available through high-speed internet across the length and breadth of the country. Hence, I speak of E-Governance in 3 capacities (Individual, Group & Government), and how can it be effectively implied within their set parameters.

A) Individual

To start with we have to make every individual a responsible citizen, and this means a responsibility that goes beyond uploading the picture of an inked finger on Election Day. How can this be done?

  1. With the Digital Infrastructure that will be made available, every individual must be given a unique digital identification number (UDIM). This number will enable any citizen of India to log in from any part of the country. Perhaps the PAN CARD or the AADHAR card (in case of those who don’t own a Pan Card) can be the basis to acquire it to avoid duplicity.
  2. This UDIM can then be used to log into the interface where pretty much like a social network site, the individual can log into area specific sectors. Considering that we are an agrarian economy, and that our rural brethren might connect on cell phones, the site ought to be mobile friendly and offer linguistic preferences.
  3. As an individual, one must be able to participate in open forum discussion, secure information, raise queries, request reforms, register complaints, and appreciate solutions offered.
  4. As a digital citizen of India, one must have a share in participative governance under a secular cover within the prescribed parameters.

B) Groups

Collectively, it is always possible to pursue change, negotiate problems and arrive at a conclusion. And in a nation where multiple voices gather at the drop of a hat to put forth an opinion, it is but natural a potential that needs to be harnessed.

  1. Rope in social organizations and communities like the ALM (Advanced Locality Management) to come on board as an extended arm of governance.
  2. Dividing a city into small neighbourhood hubs puts the power in the hands of the people. It simply makes it logistically viable for efficient control and ensures a safety net of sorts.
  3. Connect them to form a network that can attend to a crisis or provide help as the need might be. A common online service centre can be formed on the interface that is zone specific.
  4. Individuals can be a part of this group on rotational basis so that at no time the power is vested in a singular group of people.
  5. As a group, they can upload information with regards to their area. Things like civic services, religious celebrations, health and safety, sanitation and even resource management can be outsourced to such groups. A bi-monthly report can check the efficiency of the system.
  6. They can also look at crowdfunding for the upkeep of their zones. Maybe a tax exemption towards this social cause is not such a bad idea, too.
  7. Invite Corporates and Conglomerates to adopt areas/groups/zones/teams as an extension of their CSR activity just as Intel is the backbone of #DigitalIndia.

C) Government

Raise the standard of a government office. Make it a pride worthy job profile and not one that is scorned by the media and the public. The world over, government jobs are the highest paid and most respected. If our law makers and law enforcers work within their defined norms, it will be very difficult for the general public to change lanes without paying a penalty.

  1. Get rid of paperwork. A government office is synonymous with files, files and more files that no one ever uses. Free up the office premises and use the digital space on the private cloud.
  2. Make information easy to obtain. A form for passport application or name change is not a matter of national security. Law and order can come only when the legal implications are made known to the common man. Right to Information need not have a 6 month plus response period.
  3. All information must be made available in real-time. Long queues, and endless waiting must be replaced by easy access to information, pan India. Eliminate middlemen and touts. Give Corruption a healthy makeover.
  4. Ease the red-tapism by ensuring accountability. A digital time stamp ensures the login details and time. Electronic transactions eliminate bribery.
  5. Invest in the future by investing in education. Make Digital Literacy a compulsory subject in all schools, aided and private.
  6. Upgrade and invest in other sectors and cities. Provide opportunities on home ground. Make every city, town and village self-sufficient. Reduce the dependency on metros.
  7. Move India from the agrarian economy to the IT revolution.
  8. Keep rules uniform for all, be it the common man, a political party worker, an actor or an industrialist. The action counts and not the stature or religion of a person.
  9. Complaint redressal is an important aspect of E-governance. Be it wrong parking or illegal property extensions, women harassment or endless digging of roads, a system that enables to ‘click and share’ is a tool that must be exploited to the fullest. Perhaps, I may just be a witness to something and not necessarily the aggrieved party. Make it easy to share information for a safe and secure India, for one and all.

Yes, this is a Herculean task.

No, it is not going to be easy, not with the demographics that India poses.

Yes, it is going to take a great deal of investment of time, money and infrastructure.

So what do we do? Well, for starters we can invoke the blessings of the DEITY and hope and pray that this new-age India does rise on the digital horizon. With Intel, the Sponsors of Tomorrow, that day is not far away. And when it does dawn, Look Inside, stand up in support of the brand-new era that will be ushered in.

Acche Din Aayenge.

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