You will soon be able to use SMS communication with government departments as a documentary proof for making payments, according to a PTI reportThe SMS initiative is part of Mobile Seva (M-Seva) service that was officially launched by the government last month.

Department of Electronics and IT (DEITY), that developed the service, is ready with digital signatures for mobile phones which the government can use in messages that are to be sent to the people applying for a service. These digital signatures will be allocated to government departments in the first quarter of 2014 and any form of communication (SMS, email) that has this signature can be used instead of a paper receipt or document.

845 central and state government departments are using M-Seva for providing SMS-based services, and over 57 crore SMS notifications have been sent till now. In January alone, over the last two days, more than 22.58 lakh notifications have been sent. The service was also among the winners at mBillionth awards for eGovernance. M-Seva uses the e-Governance infrastructure comprising State Data Centers (SDCs), State Wide Area Networks (SWANs), State and National Service Delivery Gateways (SSDGs/NSDG).

There’s an app for that!

It needs to be pointed out that IRCTC had started accepting ticket booking SMSes as official travel document allowing passengers for train journey last year. It was technically possible to book tickets and interact with several other government departments with SMS, but it required people to remember the SMS syntax which was too long and complicated.

To remove this hurdle, government has released 241 applications in the fields of Right to Information (RTI), health, Aadhaar, education, directory services etc till now. These apps will create the syntax from the information put in by the user and then send it over SMS. All apps developed are available for download on government’s official app store and they can be downloaded for free without registering and then loaded on to phones. Most of them are for Android, but there are quite a few applications for Java-based devices as well. Joint Secretary at DEITY Rajendra Kumar said that in six months the government will bring all applications to HTML5 standard which will make them compatible with all mobile platforms.

While quite a few of these applications work with SMS alone, there are several ones like this app for viewing the display board of Supreme Court that needs Internet connection.

It’s good that these applications can be downloaded and side loaded on to device of your choice, but it would be great if they could make them available on Google’s Play Store as well for easy installation for those with access to the Internet.