Interview

Power in People’s Hands

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Ms Gunjan Krishna

Ms Gunjan Krishna
IAS, the brain behind the Karnataka MobileOne project,

Ms Gunjan Krishna, IAS, the brain behind the Karnataka MobileOne project, speaks about its genesis, evolution and the future course in a tete-e-tete with Akanki Sharma of Elets News Network (ENN)

How did you conceive the idea of MobileOne platform?

I had been associated with a similar project in Maharashtra. It was there that I realised how quickly people pick up things via this small device…I could sense the power of mobile phone. Moreover, the Government of Karnataka was always keen having something similar, as this is the step next to eGovernance. Th at’s how it all started with a belief that services would be available faster and cheaper on mobile phones.

Initially, it might have looked like a utopian idea. How did you convince the people around?

When we started, people thought it to be a grandiose idea. Until that time, the mobile governance was just about sending SMSs, nothing else. People were yet to realise its real power.

What we wanted to do was to make the mobile platform a multi-modal one, so that it could be accessed from any device, using any medium. For example, it you have an Internet connection, you access if from your smartphone, you can access the web address, use USSD or it can be accessed using the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. It was also crucial to ensure that a single number was provided to people for utilising all services.

So, we gave more and more services at the fi ngertips of the people, including pull services, wherein citizens can call for the desired information over their handsets. We also introduced various ePayment services, wherein they are able to make payments via their phones. Also, we are going to open the platform to Value Added Services (VAS). So, all in all, it was like giving more and more power to them. But all this would not have been possible without the required support from the seniors.

‘We gave more and more services at the fi ngertips of the people, including pull services, wherein citizens can call for the desired information over their handsets’

Going by the current shape of MobileOne platform, do you feel this is what you had actually visualised?

I think implementation has been very good and for that the credit goes to Mr Srivatsa Krishna, too. He did a wonderful job towards implementation of the project. In fact, I could not have implemented it as well as he has done it, since there are multiple stakeholders like various government departments, banks telecom service providers, banks and what not… It’s extremely diffi cult to convince all to take them on board.

Further, one thing we need to ensure is that most of these services are made available in the villages. For instance, payment is an issue there. As people take time to embrace new ideas, we can possibly plan something like mediated model or correspondent model for the purpose.

What would be your suggestion for the states inclined to go mobile?

Th e MobileOne platform is a giant system and it can host services of any state or, for that matter, even that of the Government of India. It is open to all Value Added Service Providers (VASP) as well. So, if they want, the Application Programming Interface (API) can integrate with any kind of an application. If any state wants to host it, they can host it right on our platform.

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