This website allows citizens to volunteer for specific projects and also invite suggestions regarding various policy decisions. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) will be managing this platform.
What’s worth noting though is the site is actually usable, which is something most government portals can’t boast of. IT Secretary R.S. Sharma told The Economic Times that they are also developing a mobile app which will allow citizens to take pictures and report public problems on the forum.
it’s worth noting that BJP had mentioned in its election manifesto that it would be opening up the government to draw expertise from the industry, academia and society into the services. It had also stated plans of using technology for e-Governance and engage pro-actively with the people through social media for participative governance and effective public grievance redressal mechanism.
Sign up flow
Users can sign up for the forum by providing requisite personal details like name, email address and mobile number, following which users are sent a activation mail.
While there are several user complaints regarding signing up or logging into the forum, we didn’t face any such issues or snags at the time of writing this article. After activating the account, users are led to a page to update their Residential Details (State, District, and City).
One can provide details on their areas of interest (urban development, social justice, IT and volunteer for senior citizens among others) and select a maximum of 4 out of the 7 seven groups (Job Creation, Clean Ganga, Digital India, Skill Development, Clean India, Green India, and Girl Child Education) based on their relevant areas of interest. One can also provide their skills (Research & Analysis, Policy Planning and Field Surveys among others).
Following this, users will be able to view various discussion topics and tasks listed under the groups they selected. For instance, the Digital India group lists topics like “With mobile and e-banking becoming common in urban India, how can we take similar services to rural India using similar technologies?”
Hindi edition & keyboard: Users will have an option to post their views on this topic through comments. They can post images and YouTube videos as well. What’s worth noting is that the site offers a virtual Hindi alphanumeric keyboard for those who might not be fluent in English. It also had a Hindi edition which translates the site options in Hindi to users, although we noticed the experience is not holistic i.e. several options in the Hindi edition are still in English.
Tasks: The tasks include either committing time to carry out certain tasks related to the groups of their preference or providing inputs and ideas on certain policy measures. For instance, the Digital India group has listed tasks like :
– providing digital training in their neighbourhood and nearby communities
– providing design suggestions and inputs to develop a mobile app for the prime minister.
– developing digital training material on a topic of their choice.
– suggesting ideas to improve the existing optical fibre networks and developing new high speed networks in the country.
Gamification: In order to incentivize volunteers, there is also a reward points initiative, wherein volunteers earn credit points for posting their views, sharing their ideas or completing the tasks. Every user initially gets 50 credit points while signing up.
The site says that select volunteers who have accrued enough points, are periodically chosen to present their views directly to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It also plans to provide incentives based on these credit points in the future.
This is definitely a good move to involve citizens in carrying out tasks and take their suggestions while formulating new policies. However, we are curious to see if these suggestions are seriously taken and executed in the country or it will become yet another namesake initiative.