The new rules of citizen engagement

Published: February 2, 2015 12:10 AM

India is poised to become the world’s fastest-growing large economy by next year, ahead of China...

India is poised to become the world’s fastest-growing large economy by next year, ahead of China, say a growing number of economists. Its $2 trillion economy is among the world’s largest. Most nations see mutual benefits flowing from closer economic ties with India. The new government is planning to put the country’s economy on a high-growth path while giving investors assurance of policy stability. Already it has set a daring vision to upgrade the country to a $20 trillion economic superpower. Government and private sector players want to make use of technology to engage all stakeholders as well as drive job creation and inclusiveness with a slew of initiatives, including Digital India and Make in India.

The transformation towards an “engaged India” is the core idea threading its way across all of the new initiatives by the government.

Engagement is effective interaction between all members of society, with citizens and other stakeholders, encouraging participation, exchange of ideas, and flow of conversation. In this sense, engagement becomes the engine driving inclusion, which, in turn, delivers value to citizens, government and the private sector in the country.

Key to delivering an engaged India is the adoption of contemporary technologies like digitisation, cloud, mobility, as well as high-speed optic networks to transport voice and video signals, besides data. Digital India aims to take government services to every Indian citizen, using mobile as the primary delivery vehicle. By bringing 100 smart cities to bloom, India looks to energise urban development.

Over the next three years, the government will also roll out free high-speed Wi-Fi in 2,500 cities and towns across the country. Once India is connected, the sky is the limit to how far public and private sector players can push the envelope of engagement and, by so doing, create value for our people. Innovation, engagement, and value creation suddenly becomes truly effortless. For one, digital India bears a direct and positive correlation with the creation of “mobile everything” environments: mobile healthcare, mobile police, mobile education, and whatnot.

If we look at security in a digitally connected city, lean-staffed police departments, for instance, can use effective video surveillance solutions as a force-multiplier. Making use of efficient surveillance cameras, backed by a powerful broadband network that supports tens of thousands of simultaneous data streams, police officers can instantaneously call up and review video data from multiple locations. This system will present officers with the information they need in an easy-to-use format, so that they can fight crime, demonstrate expeditious responsiveness, and enhance citizens’ trust in the force.

Unlike what many of us think, the government’s Make in India programme is also highly dependent on digital India. If we are to attract global and local investors to set up export-oriented manufacturing units in India and boost jobs, we have to be connected and be able to deliver engagement environments to investors. The US is a major potential source of manufacturing investments, so the spotlight was on this programme as President Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met CEOs last week. This initiative will let global industry make whatever they want to make in India – from satellites to submarines, and pharma to biotech.

India’s decision-makers are working on a single-window portal that makes it easier for investors to apply online and at one place for all the permits they require to set up business here. E-governance portals will integrate information across departments and make government data publicly available on the cloud.

The government can engage the citizen along voice, video, and data channels, and no matter what device the citizen works from—mobile, tablets, kiosks. The citizen can make her identity known to the government agency simply by keying in her unique identification number (Aadhaar) or pressing her finger against a biometric device.

There is no limit to how far we can create value when we engage, as private and public sector players, toward achieving a national, strategic goal that will help secure the future of our children, our business, our society and ultimately, our nation. The foundation we build today is the DNA of our future success. As private sector IT vendors, we are determined to live up to our national responsibility in helping the government deliver the vision of “effortless engagement” to citizens and pave the way for the governance of the future that is more transparent, efficient and convenient.

By Priyadarshi Mohapatra

The writer is managing director, Avaya India and SAARC

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