By The Indian Economist

According to the consultancy firm McKinsey & Co., public sector digitization is a trillion dollar challenge, even in the US. It is safe to infer that India also faces a similar challenge, or rather a similar opportunity. While, it may take time for the public sector to digitize in entirety, many state leaders have taken the first step in this direction by increasing their presence online. For example, the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Rajasthan all have a presence in Twitter. Such steps may not produce tangible effects in their states, but they do help connect with the populace better.

Some leaders have gone ahead, and launched a bunch of services which help the state population in aspects like health, redressal of grievances, security, and much more. For example, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have a portal- Jansunwai for troubleshooting grievances. The Jansunwai portal in Uttar Pradesh helps distressed citizens lodge online complaints after registering their verified mobile numbers on the portal.  Also, people can rate their satisfaction both in terms of quality and time. Jansunwai has evolved into a one stop platform for all sources/departments to improve public access, complaint redressal and simple monitoring.

When the masses take to social networks to share their problems of their day-to-day life, it makes more sense for the leaders and their Governments to establish a presence on such networks to communicate effectively with them. Tarun Gogoi, current chief minister of Assam, is active on Twitter and even hosts Google Hangout sessions with its people, with a sole mission for better administration. There are many politicians who have taken the social media route.

Stepping up the game further, the CM of Uttar Pradesh has created apps and services where he himself and the masses can share ideas and updates. This has come in the form of mobile apps, where all people have their own “theme” set by themselves to connect with CM. Uttar Pradesh government recently launched 3 applications – MSehat, Shakti 1090 and UP News 360.

MSehat focuses on the state’s health services accurately. The app lets nurses-midwives, ASHA workers, medical officers and other health workers record maternal and infant data in real-time and keep record of steps to lower mother-child death rate. The project has been first initiated in five districts namely Sitapur, Kannauj, Faizabad, Mirzapur and Bareilly for a period of three years, later to be covered in all the districts. 1090 Shakti app lets women in distress to record and send audio and video clips at a single click to the police control room. Further equipping the service, the city has special police personnel and automobiles available for patrol duty including a pack of SUV cars and motorcycles always available for women in need. UP 360 is a web portal with the idea of providing a window to global audience seeking info about his state.

The portal entails information about CM’s official visits, attended events, initiatives and other people-oriented facilities of each and every department. Another app called ‘Samajwadi Akhilesh’ allows people to stay connected with the Samajwadi Party, the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh Government. It allows them to get notifications and stay updated about the activities of the party on the go. In addition to these apps, the CM’s twitter presence has ensured fast-tracked solutions for queries posted to the CM’s twitter handle. Case in point- a woman Gram Pradhan of a village in Mirzapur tweeted that she wished smart business units were setup in her village. Within seconds, she got a reply that it shall be done. Another instance was when an armed man in an SUV threatened a journalist, and she posted the incident to the CM’s twitter handle. Within 24 hours, the man had been detained for interrogation.

A bundle of such services and quick responses had made the hashtag #DigitalCM trending. In fact, #DigitalCM was at the top of twitter trends in India for quite some time. There has been a progressive shift in the way Chief Ministers connect with their state and national audience.  While it may take some time for the real impact of such initiatives to become visible, this is an administrative setup that other Chief Ministers can follow.

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Posted by The Indian Economist