Most of us would understand eGovernance to be a government led initiative and very few of us would know about the progress being made. In fact, the story of tech startups in the domain is even lesser known. We chat with Amit Shukla, Founder of EasyGov, to understand what they do and also about the sector.
There are some really good eGovernance initiatives like Indian Railways, Income Tax, Passport that is benefitting millions of people. I think Government is doing well wherever they need to collect money from public. eGovernance failed to deliver benefit to the bottom of pyramid in 15 years of eGovernance implementation in India. However things are improving now. DBT is great initiative for improving delivery of benefits to the bottom of the pyramid.1. What is the general state of eGovernance in India? Is it a reality or still a pipe dream?
The problem is at last mile offices and citizen experience in these offices that has changed very little inspite of hundreds of crores spent thorough hundreds of eGovernance projects. The eGovernance remained department centric instead of citizen centric and failed to democratise accessibility and availability of G2C services beyond physical offices at block, tehsil and District level. For e.g. many government offices just accept payment in the form of treasury challan only contrary to Government push on digital payment. Public service delivery guarantee act that may ensure timely delivery of services to public has not been enforced in the states.
2. What problem does Easygov aim to solve? Who is the target audience?
There are four problems in delivery of lacs of crores of benefits from Government to millions of people.
- Impossible for people to know their entitlement from thousands of Government schemes under scholarship, social security, financial inclusion, grants and subsidy.
- If entitlement is known, It is super frustrating for individuals to apply for government schemes or service. The process is unclear, the UI confusing and unprofessional and rude touts rule the government services infrastructure.
- Delayed or no response from Government on submitted applications. High failure rate of IT project being implemented to improve this.
- Partial and delayed disbursement of benefits. Government has poor utilization of budget of welfare schemes due to inefficiencies in customer facing offices.
3. Given the low level of tech and English language literacy in the country, how promising have your initial projects been? What is the way forward?
People are using mobile phone in local language. Language is bigger problem than acceptability of technology. It is must for solution to be in local language and should solve real problem for making it successful in rural India. We are working to make our solution available in all local languages. There are around 300 million smart phone user in India. It means every family is connected with smart phone user directly or in first degree. Having said that, I believe over three fourth of traffic to EasyGov will come through assisted mode from rural India. Presently our solution is in just English and used in assisted mode.
4. Government schemes are known to be tedious. How difficult was it to create this solution? What were the major challenges?
I have over 10 Years of Government consulting experience. I did business process reengineering of several Government to citizen and Government to business services. The network and understanding of the domain helped in overcoming this challenge. The difficult part is getting approval from the Government on comprehended rules from policy documents.
6. Do you have any advices for other startups in the eGovernance space on how to navigate the terrain?
Passion, Passion and Passion. We say in EasyGov that each and every employee will first give first priority to interest of nation, second to client and third to EasyGov. Our action can make difference in billion lives and everyone should work for one objective - people should get what are they eligible for easily and with pride irrespective of their economic classification and education level.
7. Security has been a concern regarding Aadhar data. How did you fix that?
We are upgrading our solution to meet the requirement for using Aadhar on regular basis. We are putting in place all consent requirements.
Legally, we are just IT solution provider on cloud. Data will be stored in Government cloud and remain the property of client (respective Government). EasyGov will have access to transaction data only with due consent of owner of the data.
8. Are you looking for partnerships of any sort? If yes, please elaborate the criteria.
We are looking for three strategic partners. First, Government, who has strong commitment to eliminate inefficiencies and corruption in delivery of Government welfare schemes and services using completely automated system with near zero involvement of last mile Government offices. Second, network like internet sathi, CSC who can help in reaching out EasyGov solution to billion people living in remote and rural India. Third, voice chat bot in India languages :-).