The department of administrative reforms and public grievances (DARPG) is working on a series of innovations to boost technology-based solutions across various sectors to help realize the ‘Vision [email protected]’, secretary V Srinivas said on Saturday.
In consonance with the Central government’s ambitious ‘Vision [email protected]’ initiative, the culture ministry will engage the startup community to prepare a blueprint for the requirement, development, and growth of the country for the next 25 years.
“India’s governance model in the years 2014-2021 has undergone radical reforms. e-governance has simplified a citizen’s interface with government, brought government and citizens closer and enabled benchmarking of service quality,” said V Srinivas, secretary, DARPG. “End-to-end service delivery without a human interface is an essential component of Centre’s ‘maximum governance – minimum government’ policy.
Srinivas was speaking at a multi-stakeholder symposium held for civil servants under the age of 35, academics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and other eminent colleges, and entrepreneurs from the start-up eco-system here.
The strategy is centred around the creation of 10 working groups, called ‘cells’, that will recommend technology-based solutions for various sectors, such as information security and defence, infrastructure and communications, assistive healthcare, pollution reduction, finance technology and transport and mobility.
These will comprise forty nucleus teams, each consisting of one young IAS officer, one academic, one seed entrepreneur and one established entrepreneur. They will work to conceptualise developments over the next three to twenty-five years. Four teams will form a cell team, each of which takes up one of the ten sectors to address.
According to IIT-M professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala, the teams will make the first recommendations in the next four months. “They have just begun working together. We have just constituted a team and got them started. They are expected to come with the first recommendation in about four months,” Jhunjhunwala told HT over email.
Kazim Rizvi, founder of the policy think-tank The Dialogue, highlighted that initiative would boost the start-up ecosystem. “The startup ecosystem will receive a boost in the process, and more native entrepreneurs will be minted. India has a high density of youth population, which can support the growth of the technological developments in India. Moreover, upskilling individuals and providing them with the right opportunities to excel will boost the digital economy,” he said.
Srinivas, meanwhile, said that the effort is to “bring the government and citizens together by use of digital technology pursuing next-generation reforms with the policy objective of ‘maximum governance –minimum government’.
The process is conceptualized at a dual-level — transforming use of technologies by the state and the central government across different sectors and improving citizens’ access to institutions. “This will entail considerable government process re-engineering, universalising access to e-services, excellence in digital initiatives at the district level, excellence in adopting emerging technologies, and use of ICT in management. The adoption of next-generation administrative reforms with saturation approach will enable India to achieve a pre-eminent position in future global models of good governance,” Srinivas said.
According to the symposium document, which has been reviewed by HT, the challenges faced by affordable healthcare for all include limited research and development (R&D), weakness in high-tech manufacturing, a nascent domestic regulatory system that is not of global standards, poor adoption of home-made innovations and products by the public healthcare system are key factors limiting progress on this front.
The document recommends an increased focus on disability healthcare (DH) and assistive technologies (AT), which have been on the periphery in the Indian system.
As far as information security and defence is concerned, the document highlights the Israel model. It states that attaching the youth to the defence services for a short period can help improve their knowledge and increase India’s cybersecurity capabilities. It also adds that startups need to be leveraged to ensure India becomes a superpower when it comes to defence capabilities.
Concerning goods transportation, the document notes the likely rise in unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver products shortly. It states that regulations will need to be formulated to address the new sector. As far as the environment is concerned, the document recommends a gradual shift to a net-zero economy so that balance between disruption of current industries does not impact the environment. The groups would each review these challenges to make their recommendations.
On the automation of service and welfare delivery across government systems that requires the collection, storage and processing of vast amounts of data, Rizvi said that government should consider the need for data protection.
“Adopting and operationalising privacy by design principles across the concerned ecosystem is an important aspect of data protection. While the typical approach to adhering to privacy has been that of implementing a ‘notice and consent mechanism’ when public services are automated, it is important to adopt a more holistic approach towards the right to privacy,” he said.
He commended the move towards digitisation, but also urged the government to implement checks and balances. “While going digital and reducing the human interface seems like an idea that could optimise service delivery, it is very important to recognise the shortfalls of relying solely on technology. In a country like India, where many are still not digital natives and lag in digital literacy, the systems and solutions must be inclusive of the needs of all,” he said.