Power to the People

Gaurav Dwivedi, CEO of – the Government of India’s crowdsourcing platform under the Department of Electronics & IT (DeitY) – tells BWSC why the best way to solve problems is to throw them open to the public

Gaurav Dwivedi,CEO ,mygov_RS (34)
MyGov Stats

The success of Digital India rests firmly on the shoulders of ordinary Indians as they take to the internet and transform the way they interact with government. What they also have is a chance to transform India itself. What is the primary idea that powers The basic idea behind MyGov is one of large-scale public participation in all aspects of governance, right from the policy formulation to the programme implementation stage. Since it has a very wide stage setting, any activity can be a part of what MyGov does. The way that the Indian social system and economy are evolving, there is a desire in both the young (and the not so young) to contribute to the system at large. People are keen to do this by coming up with new and innovative ways of doing things. In fact, MyGov itself is an innova­tion within the government by which it seeks to reach out and continuously engage with citizens. With a growing internet economy there is now a pop­ular trend to come up with solutions and answers to problems relating to socio-economic and administrative issues and even use them as livelihood opportunities. MyGov also provides a platform for partnering with various entities to host discussions, run competitions or polls, tasks and challenges, like it did with DST and Intel for the Innovate for Digital India Challenge, which was based on the premise that the best way to solve problems is to just throw them open to the larger com­munity. There are no barriers as to who can contribute or participate. What is the nature of collaboration between the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) and MyGov for Smart Cities? In June this year, just before the formal launch of the Mission by the Prime Minister, we created a Smart Cities group on MyGov as well as ran a contest to get ideas from citizens on some smart solutions where six people were finally selected for awards. We have had several rounds of discussion with the MoUD as the guidelines of the Smart Cities project state very clearly that the proposals that are submitted by the cities must go through a very extensive process of public consultation at all stages. To do that we have finally zeroed in on a set of activities where MyGov is being leveraged. MyGov Stats What are some of the ways in which this is being done? Cities can organise MyGov talks where we have suggested that senior functionaries from the city like may­ors or municipal commissioners and the state like secretaries and principal secretaries could organise talks about the overall concept of smart cities and take views from people on their vision for the city. This would differ from city to city, so the visions and sub goals need to be identified and taken on board. Once the proposal is ready for submission to the Government of India, the document – in its entirety – including whether recommendations made for the city have been taken up or not, funding plans, the likely impact on citizen of these plans in terms of user charges etc. must also be put in the public domain. This is so that people may have an idea of what had originally been proposed and the final shape of the plan. We have many cities that have started this process. Cities decide on the discussion topic and share it with us and we create the discussion for them on our site. Cities can create multiple discussions for different subjects at the same time. What are some of the things that have pleasantly surprised you along the MyGov journey? One of the memorable moments I can recall is from the days of the promo­tional campaign for the Innovate for Digital India Challenge. In Ahmed­abad, in the late afternoon heat during peak summer, I was pleasantly surprised to find a hall packed with very young students in a state that is really well known for its business and entrepreneurial culture but not so much for technology. Smart Cities can’t work without engaged and responsible citizens. What are your thoughts on this? People often equate smart cities with smarter technology. When you look around, I’d say technology is suf­ficiently evolved. It is the ideas that are sometimes hard to come by. If people have any thoughts or ideas on any governance issue then I would request them to join and participate on MyGov. We have some interest­ing examples of how these ideas have been woven into policy and plans, like the ones that got incorporated into the Union and Rail Budgets. Some of the other ministries have also been taking these ideas on board in terms of their programme implementation. It’s a fairly unprecedented opportu­nity within the Indian governance system. The more people come and participate here the more they can be a part of the solution. Also, if there is anything new that people feel we can do here, I would request them to send in their suggestions and we will try to make MyGov even more user friendly.