Democracy is best defined as a system where eligible citizen of a country exercise their power to vote and and elect government of their choice to govern the country. To strengthen the democratic system in a country, it’s critical for the citizen of the country to trust the governance model and exercise their right to vote in elections. An indication of trust in the democracy can be evaluated on basic parameter of vote polled percentage in the National elections.
Comparing the vote polled percentage in last three General Elections in India, it was found that overall poll percentage was 58.07% in 2004, 58.19% in 2009 and in 2014, India saw a high surge in the overall voter turnout of 66.44%, making this the highest-turnout election in Indian history. This increase can be explained in two ways, first cause of the increase can be explained as ‘’constructive use of social media to reach out to voters of the country’’ and other cause was ‘’man who made the country realise the importance of social media and technology in democracy and gained the confidence of countrymen as Vikas Purush’’, Shri Narendra Modi who was named as BJP Prime Ministerial Candidate in Sept. 2013 and people of country believed that Narendra Modi will bring transparency and strengthen the democracy in country as he done in state of Gujarat, where served as Chief Minister for more than 12 years.
Before getting into the power at National Level, Narendra Modi was already using the technology at the forefront to deliver the citizen services in electronic form to people of state of Gujarat. Soon after he was named as Prime Ministerial candidate by BJP, he took the command of campaign and focussed on the different ways to use the technology to reach out each and every citizen of the country. He pioneered the use of hologram technology to speak live at rallies in dozens of remote towns across the nations, Digital LED vans to Campaign in rural and urban areas and effectively used social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, youtube, Instagram etc to engage with people and seek inputs and feedbacks from them. He has used social media to make a positive difference during the election campaign
Narendra Modi, upon assuming the Prime Minister office in May 2014, worked toward creating transparent and efficient citizen service delivery system to ensure the trust and confidence of citizens in government and in-turn the strengthen democratic system. India as a country under the dynamic leadership of Shri Narendra Modi, ‘’started working towards redefining the democratic system by empowering the countrymen with emphasis on e-governance using the technology’’. Shri Narendra Modi always believed that technology is the best means to empower the less empowered and to make governance more transparent.
Prime Minister Modi focussed to bring realisation to people of country that his government will deliver the core value of democracy i.e. ‘’a government of the people, by people for the people’’. He extensively used the technology and innovative idea to spread the realisation of democratic values. First step toward realising the core value of democracy was when PM launched MyGov portal in July 2014. Mygov is a unique portal that uses the Internet to make the citizen a key part of governance and policy making by sharing ideas and suggestion for better governance. Using MyGov various ministries and departments seek inputs on areas pertaining to their work. Narendra Modi is also placing great emphasis on m-governance or mobile governance and he launched a mobile app, NAMO APP for latest government and non government information, instant updates & helps citizen to contribute towards various governance participative tasks. It provides a unique opportunity to receive messages and emails directly from the Prime Minister.
Narendra Modi also laid foundation to deliver citizen oriented services and in July 2015, PM launched Digital India campaign in order to ensure the Government’s services are made available to citizens electronically by improved online infrastructure and by increasing Internet connectivity or by making the country digitally empowered in the field of technology. This initiative includes plans to connect rural areas with high-speed internet networks. Digital India consists of three core components: the development of secure and stable digital infrastructure, delivering government services digitally, and universal digital literacy. Further, Government of India is scaling up its technological usage to provide better health and education facilities to the people of India. Crores of Indian farmers have been receiving agriculture related information through SMS.
PM focus was to monitor the implementation and progress of National projects and redressed of people issue, which was performed using PRAGATI Platform, which uniquely bundles three latest technologies i.e. digital data management, video-conferencing and geo-spatial technology. With PRAGATI platform, PM is able to discuss the issues with the concerned Central and State officials having the ground level situation supported by latest visuals. This was one of unique and innovative project in e-governance and good governance envisioned by Narendra Modi.
India in its current state is witnessing a tremendous move from using IT as namesake in previous government to delivering the citizen based services using IT and online media. In past 5 years, IT has been at the core to deliver each and every scheme of central Government; it all started with launch of Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) in August 2014, with vision of financial inclusion of poorest of poor. Till today, ~35.39 Crore Jan Dhan accounts (MyGov, April 2019) have been opened and successfully linked with Adhaar card for biometric based authentication and financial inclusion. Opening of Jan Dhan account pave the way to direct benefit transfer to the bank account of beneficiaries which was never done in the past 70 years of Indian democratic history. Modi Govt. designed the schemes very diligently with feedback and inputs from the grounds up and enabled the delivery using IT to eradicate the corruption and in turn poverty across the country. It will not be wrong to mention that each and every citizen of the country would have been benefited by these govt. schemes in one form or other.
Few other IT initiatives under Digital India campaign which worth mentioning here as these helped Modi Govt. deliver the core services to the citizen of the country,
- Common Services Centres (CSCs) have been a boost for the Narendra Modi government’s flagship scheme Digital India, and have succeeded in bringing government schemes closer to rural citizens. Their impressive record in last-mile delivery proves they are the fulcrum on which Digital India rests. There are approximately 290,000 common service centre’s in the country. These access points also extend government social welfare schemes, healthcare, education, financial inclusion, agricultural services etc
- UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) is a Government of India all-in-one single unified secure multi-channel multi-platform mobile app for accessing over 1,200 central and state government services in multiple Indian languages, including services such as AADHAR, DigiLocker, Bharat Bill Payment System, PAN, EPFO services, PMKVY services, AICTE, CBSE, tax and fee or utilities bills payments, education, job search, tax, business, health, agriculture, travel, Indian railway tickets bookings etc.
- The GST Network is also part of e-governance. It is in charge of the technological infrastructure for the GST regime. It is also said to take the load of translating 2 billion invoices into digital formats as all commercial and tax transactions went digital from 1 July 2017
- eHospital application provides important services such as online registration, payment of fees and appointment, online diagnostic reports, enquiring availability of blood etc.
- Digital attendance: attendance.gov.in was launched by PMNarendra Modi on 1 July 2015 to keep a record of the attendance of government employees on a real-time basis. This initiative started with implementation of a common Biometric Attendance System (BAS) in the central government offices located in Delhi.
- Digital Lockerfacility will help citizens to digitally store their important documents like PAN card, passport, mark sheets and degree certificates. Digital Locker will provide secure access to Government issued documents. It is aimed at eliminating the use of physical documents and enables the sharing of verified electronic documents across government agencies.
- Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan is being executed by PMGDisha with an outlay of Rs 2,351.38 crore with tobjective of making 6 crore rural households digitally literate by March 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government put the focus on technology to deliver the service and transparency in democratic system and looking forward to leverage latest tools and insights drawn from Artificial Intelligence to improve the quality of governance for more than 1.34 billion Indian citizens.
(Writer is a IT Consultant)