August 2017

Time to Adopt ‘Supermarket’ Concept for e-Governance

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Amod Kumar
Member, Board of Revenue
Government of Uttar Pradesh

All the online government services should be brought under one roof by adopting a ‘Supermarket’ concept, in which, one app or a website can serve as one-stop source of information for citizens, says Amod Kumar, Member, Board of Revenue, Government of Uttar Pradesh.

“Few exceptions can be there. For instance, some transactions have to happen physically — examination, driving test, interview, voting, court hearing, field inspection, traffic control etc. Even for these transactions, CCTV recordings must be kept and preserved to avoid allegation and dispute in future.”

In India, the coverage of internet and mobile networks has reached every remotest possible area. Now it is easier for a person to do online transaction than to do a manual transaction. The scenario has reversed; and because of this reversal, the government should deliver every citizen the government-related services only online. In case a department lacks resources, communication, or any other limitation related to delivery of services online, that department should seek exemption from the government to do it manually. For instance, if the government allows any of its office to accept manually-filled forms, then later, it should be digitised in-house. Everything should be in an electronic state before the service is provided to the end users.

Secondly, all possible interactions between a citizen and the government — one may interact as a citizen, a beneficiary of a scheme, a vendor, a contractor, a government employee, a government officer, as well as interactions within the government — should be digitised, i.e., it should take place electronically with preserved records of each transaction. This will help in generating a timestamp for everything — to see and check. It will also reduce discretion and will lead to transparency. Few exceptions can be there. For instance, some transactions have to happen physically examination, driving test, interview, voting, court hearing, field inspection, traffic control etc. Even for these transactions, CCTV recordings must be kept and preserved to avoid allegation and dispute in future.

Thirdly, all the online government services should be brought under one roof by adopting a ‘Supermarket’ concept, in which, one app or a website can serve as a one-stop source of information so that a citizen doesn’t have to go here-and-there. Similarly, a common online assistance — like that being provided by Google Assistant or Siri in Apple, which we have in smart phones — can be applied where every information can be availed either through availing a helpline number or developing a mobile app. The government can develop separate apps for central and state governance with sub sections; by means of which a visitor can communicate directly with the concerned departments and ministries.

Finally, we see mobile phones reaching to every villages and slums along with connectivity and electricity. Only thing that prevents poor people in getting equal access to technology, or to an online space, is the availability of the device. The government can bridge the gap by making smart phones available to every citizen. This will finish the digital divide instaed of only bridging it.

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