Technology and innovation has an important role to play in transforming economy and governments should quickly embrace them to bring reforms. Data should be utilized to drive insights and make decisions. Technology can improve the relationships between governments and its citizens. E-governance helps to reduce the cost of government operations and improve transparency and accountability.
In 2013 a tax payment system using mobile phones collected 4.7bn Tanzanian shillings ($2.5m US dollars) in three weeks, 1.7bn ($1m) more than the amount collected using the old system over the same period. Supported by USAid, the city of Batangas in the Philippines launched a similar system in March 2014 to help businesses to pay taxes via mobile devices. In the recent months, the Indian government too has started embracing technology to bring transparency, accountability and reforms.
In July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a website MyGov.in that aims to help citizens contribute in governance by giving their opinions and views on important issues. Under MyGov.in platform, Government of India is running various crowd sourced initiatives that encompass Job creation, Skill development, Green India, Swachh Bharat Yojana, Girl Child education and many more.
Google has tied up with the Indian government to promote Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Digital India programme. The programme is focused on increasing high-speed Internet connectivity across the country, introducing digital classrooms, building smart cities, providing online delivery of services through the integration of government departments, and introducing online visas. Google will also launch a nationwide contest to develop a mobile app for the Prime Minister's Office, help women and small and medium enterprises get online and showcase India's heritage and culture through the digital medium.
Early this month, the Indian Government launched a website named attendance.gov.in to track attendance of officials in the Central government. The Aadhaar Enabled Biometric Attendance System enables an employee, with an Aadhaar number, to register their attendance in the office through biometric authentication. For this purpose Authentication Tablets / Desktop Authentication Devices were installed in each of the offices of Central Ministries / Departments. The employees are required to enter their 6-digit Attendance ID on the biometric terminal and subsequently the system asks for finger print verification.
Further, a web-based application software system enables online recording of attendance. The dashboard, relating to real-time attendance and statistics, can be viewed by everyone including the Controlling Officer concerned, with adequate safeguards. The information which can be found on the website are - attendance, over time, the number of registered employees, number of employees present etc. One can also find the number of active devices and further breakdown of the information.
Out of 1456 active registered employees in the Ministry of Home Affairs, only 269 were present today. The numbers were much better in Ministry of External Affairs where 1554 employees were present today out of 2025 active registered employees. Having access to this information makes me feel privileged. By providing this information, the government is bringing transparency and accountability. The government can now track the attendance of the employees and take action against those who are absent regularly or come late to the office.
Last month Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched "Make In India" campaign. It was aimed at attracting Foreign and regional investments into various Indian sectors. When I visited the "Make In India" website I was surprised. Usually Government websites have bad color scheme and code structure. Compared to these websites, makeinindia.com is a refreshing change. The website for this campaign is professionally designed. Lion is the mascot for the "Make In India" campaign. The logo has been inspired by the Ashoka Chakra and lion. The website covers 25 different sectors with each section talking about details of that sector. The "Make In India" branding is bold and leaves a mark on anyone who sees it.
Yesterday Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a new roadmap, including measures to end "Inspector Raj". All 1,800 labour inspectors will be disallowed from swooping down on companies and instead, a computerised system will randomly send them on inspections, based on data trends and objective criteria. Following inspections, they will have to upload their reports within 72 hours and cannot modify them thereafter.
Shram Suvidha Portal will allow employers to submit a single compliance report for 16 labour laws. Manufacturers can now register online at the Shram Suvidha portal and file a self-certified single compliance report for 16 Central labour laws. Labour inspections by four central agencies will be based on a computerised list of units that are picked up from this database. These reforms will help to simplify trade. Ease of business will help to make "Make In India" campaign successful.
It is good to see that the Indian Government has embraced Technology to bring transparency, accountability and reforms. We can hope that many more such reforms are brought in the coming months and that the "Make In India" campaign becomes successful.