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  • Subject area(s): Engineering
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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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Option 1 (recommended)

The notion of citizen-centric governance in India is not merely an idealistic dream but a full-fledged, successful programme thanks to platforms like MyGov

Option 2

Citizen involvement in public administration simpler than before with MyGov

Option 3

MyGov is helping bridge bring people closer to government

Option 4

MyGov: Finding original ways to encourage citizen engagement and strengthen governance

“We, the people” are the three words that precede the Constitution of India. There can be no greater substantiation of the importance of the citizens of our country than this. The quintessential idea of democracy, therefore, is achieved only when public participation is placed at the core of every governmental strategy, thus ensuring that government programmes are shaped towards fulfilling community needs. In this digitally driven era, getting citizen involvement in public administration has become simpler than ever before., the unique online citizen engagement portal of the Government of India, was launched with this very purpose. Through the latest innovations in technology, the MyGov portal encourages the people of India to become active contributors in political processes at all levels – local, state and centre – push for transparency and accountability of elected officials and educate themselves with various policies that eventually affect their socio-economic lives. Three years on, the positive influence of this initiative has become evident and is only getting stronger. Today, the notion of citizen-centric governance in India is not merely an idealistic dream but a full-fledged and successful programme.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been an undeviating advocate of the power of technology in improving governance. His belief in realising participatory democracy through crowdsourcing is part of his larger vision for Digital India; a vision that has found due recognition from global leaders. During the recent visit of the Prime Minister to the United States, President Donald Trump mentioned that ‘both of them are world leaders in social media’ to show how dynamic they are in engaging with their people. He said, “…we’re believers… giving the citizens of our countries the opportunity to hear directly from their elected officials, and for us to hear directly from them… it’s worked very well in both cases.” President Trump and Prime Minister Modi both stressed that the ties between US and India are stronger because both are devoted towards working for the interest of the people they serve.

Ever since its launch in 2014, MyGov has spearheaded a completely new form of governance. The platform has 42.5 lakh registered members, its Twitter profile has 1.2 million followers and its Facebook page has over 3 lakhs followers. MyGov has received over 38 lakh entries in nearly 1500 discussions and contests so far, an indicator that the citizens of our country understand democracy and have a keen interest in nation-building. However, it was lack of any appropriate platforms to do so that set them back earlier. This deficiency has now been removed with initiatives like MyGov. Citizens are now made aware about the laws and policies drafted by the government, the logic behind their formulations, their advantages and disadvantages and how they would be affected by them. In his Mann ki Baat speech of 30th April 2017, the Prime Minister said that New India is not about VIP; it is about EPI or Every Person is Important. MyGov is the exemplary platform that endorses this idea of a modern India.

MyGov receives over 10,000 posts about feedbacks and suggestions on a wide range of issues including sanitation, education, tourism, health, technology and more. These are all analysed and collated for the concerned department of the government who then takes them into consideration while developing actionable agendas. The objective of these practices is to provide equal partnership between citizens and the government and take the role of the citizens beyond voting and paying tax to become active participants in developing policies. When receiving real-time feedback from citizens, governments too benefit by being able to stay in touch with ground realities. For instance after the completion of the first two years of the present government, a specially designed micro-site was created on MyGov. Through this, the impact of various governance initiatives were reported back to the citizens in real time and a ‘Rate My Government’ survey was carried out.

A good example to show how MyGov is helping citizens become decision makers and supporting the government in formulating important policies was seen during the Union Budget of 2017. Suggestions about the latest budget were requested from the people on MyGov portal. A large number of them came forward to share their opinion and eventually found their proposals included in the Union Budget that was presented by the Finance Minister and his team. Some of the prominent suggestions were effective measures to ensure cyber-security in the financial sector advised by Jay Sevalia and Ramakrishna Lakshman which saw a proposal for Computer Emergency Response Team for the Financial Sector (CERT-Fin) being established. Eradication of common diseases with better health infrastructure was requested by Dr Bathula Sanjeevarayudu and the suggestion was implemented through an action plan prepared to eliminate Kala-Azar and Filariasis by 2017, leprosy by 2018, measles by 2020 and tuberculosis by 2025. More transparency in political funding were requested by many citizens including and the budget proposed that political parties will be entitled to receive donations by cheque or digital mode from their donors. Linking of Aadhar with health for senior citizens was suggested; in the budget it was proposed that for senior citizens, Aadhar based SmartCards containing their health detail will be introduced. Such collaborative participation was a true win for India’s democracy.

Smart India Hackathon 2017 was another initiative that MyGov was involved in that saw massive citizen participation. This was even more special as youth from all over the country stepped forward to display their ability towards nation building. Smart India Hackathon 2017 was a 36-hour non-stop digital product development competition during which teams of thousands of technology students built innovative digital solutions for the problems posted by 29 different central government ministries and departments. They had identified 598 problems to which 7,531 teams of approximately 42,000 students responded. Amongst them, 1266 teams of 10000 participants from 28 States were shortlisted for the finale.

One such suggestion that took the honours by winning the hackathon was for the Airport Authority of India. . The team presented a Geo-Fencing Box (GFB), a technology that could help prevent drones from entering into restricted areas. Adopting the futuristic InternetofThings (IOT) technology, D’ARC developed a water Surveillance System for the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. The product offered a viable solution that provides automated supervision over the content of chemicals in water.

Another key government initiative, the Smart City Mission, saw a remarkable citizen consultation drive on MyGov portal. Lakhs of citizens came on board to participate in a never before seen exercise that saw a remodelling of policymaking into a democratic exercise than a centralised activity. The Smart City Proposal received overwhelming response through discussion forums, tasks, online polls, public talks, and blogs. This has helped the government in identifying areas of key concerns for citizens of the 98 cities selected for the Mission.  

MyGov is a platform which has been built on the firm belief that India is undergoing an unprecedented transformation and this change has to be led by the strength of the citizens. The Prime Minister has been calling for a New India where the support and active participation of every person, young or old, is necessitated. MyGov, therefore, has been finding original ways to encourage citizen engagement on its platform. The New India Championship is one such innovative idea launched on the microsite on the MyGov portal to mark the three years of the portal. For two whole months, the championship invites participation of residents, Non-Resident Indians and overseas Indians in various contests and activities aligned to the national goals and campaigns of the government including Swachh Bharat Mission, Digital India and International Yoga Day.

The far-reaching impact of MyGov portal has been recognised by both the government and the citizens. As a result, the national portal is now being developed especially for each particular state. This will help in educating the citizens and seeking their engagement on a more specific level. Assam, Haryana and Maharashtra are the three states to have their own MyGov platform and other states are quickly following in the footsteps.

Achieving citizen-centric governance is not possible without first creating an appropriate environment for public participation. Until now, such an environment had either been defunct or missing completely. Through initiatives like MyGov portal, citizens have found a platform that allows them to become equal stakeholders in governance through interaction and inclusion in key government activities. The first three years of this groundbreaking journey has seen diverse channels like discussions, dialogues, games, contests, storytelling, art and social media all being implemented for engagement between the government and the citizens. There is still a whole lot to achieve in this regard, but the process of re-engineering the system towards creating a successful citizen-centric administration as a true example of democracy has begun with fill vigour and is only set to get stronger.

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