Andhra's tryst with Smart Governance

Sanjay Jaju

Mee Seva paves the way for Smart Governance in Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh tryst with e-governance goes back to early 1990s, when it started with the concept of e-Seva. The idea was to allow individuals to collect bills seamlessly without physically visiting various offices. The e-Seva has been completely overhauled and now replaced with a new idiom called Mee Seva, which is a trendsetter among e-governance initiatives in the country. The Information & Communication Technologies (ICTs), which have dramatically improved over last few years give us huge opportunity to expand the earlier e-governance architecture. 

Mee Seva is not just an e-governance programme. We are using Mee Seva approach to reform several critical departments that provide large volume of services to citizens. For instance, take the case of police department. Considering the fact that most of the people have very unpleasant experience while interfacing with police, we have launched four services for the police department as part of Mee Seva. Under this new scheme, even for services like filing a complaint for missing documents etc, the aggrieved person can do the same by visiting Mee Seva centers. So once they login and file their complains with Mee Seva centres, their applications automatically get transferred to the concerned police stations/department through the system. Once the requests are investigated and redressed, the same information is quickly passed unto the aggrieved persons or parties. However, for such a transformation to take place, the police department was required to do a whole range of internal reforms in both administrative and technology frontiers. In other words, we are using this Mee Seva approach to dramatically overhaul the current mode of functioning of many key departments. We aim to re-engineer the business processes of many key service delivery departments so as to make them transparent, accountable and responsive to citizens. In short, Mee Seva would become a game changer for e-governance in Andhra Pradesh and possibly in India too. We currently have more than 100 services pertaining to various departments and have completed more than 13 million citizen transactions since inception of this project.

For quite some time, we have been making use of e-procurement among most departments and government affiliated agencies to promote transparent and accountable procurement process. For example, so far, 20 million transactions have been made through our e-procurement system. Today, more than 250 government departments and agencies make use of the e-procurement mode.

We are converging all departments, all services onto Mee Seva, so that it becomes a singular portal, a sort of citizens ‘gateway’ to the government. This journey is not yet complete. This is because while much of the developed world is talking about smart governance, we are yet to come a full circle on e-governance; a critical precondition for smart governance. However, to my mind, while improving our e-governance architecture, we can simultaneously aim for smart governance. I don’t think such transitions happen in a linear mode. We have to navigate with 4-5 different governance processes at the same time.

I believe that there is no way you can achieve smart governance unless you make effective use of ICT. This is because of the fact that it is impossible to run complex activities through manual mode - for example, an airline or a railway booking system.  You cannot think of smart governance unless you make use of the e-platform. Thus, we need to make use of available ICT tools for achieving all sets of results. Considering the complexities of our country and the magnitude and the size of many individual states, we have made huge progress on e-governance frontiers. Yet, we have a long way to go to catch up with rest of the world on smart governance. May be the Mee Seva initiative would yield something on this front. This is because Mee Seva enables us to look at every department (which work in silos) in great length to clean up the current mess.

Further, Mee Seva is a complete amalgamation of several initiatives and technologies. Our entire approach has been to fuse everything together and convert them into Mee Seva centers. The earlier AP Online centers and CSCs have all been merged into Mee Seva. In fact, when I used to be the Collector in West Godavari district, we started a very unique programme called rural e-Seva centres to cater to the needs of farmers and other rural citizens. All these centers have been turned into one composite whole and the beauty of all this is that everyone of them has become viable now with a common look and feel. When we started, we did not have even 200 CSCs. Now we have 6,000 CSCs in AP. Therefore, with such expansion and amalgamation happening via Mee Seva, it is just a matter of time that AP takes lead in initiating some major smart governance measures.

In the next one year, our expectation is that we will be able to bring as many as 30 departments into the Mee Seva fold. We expect to get more than 300 services of 25-30 departments. Besides these we are also looking at the expansion of the national optical fiber network, which would allow us to get into smaller Panchayats as well.

We intend to convert many of them into digital knowledge and learning centers. These would be a kind of hub for e-literacy and e-education. These would not just be single computer kiosks but would rather have 4-5 computers in one centre in which people can do G2C transactions apart from availing e-literacy. We are putting in place all kind ICT tools to address the ‘last mile’ problems in a bottom-up mode.

Sanjay Jaju is Secretary-IT, Government of Andhra Pradesh 

(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of INCLUSION. Comments are welcome at info@skoch.in)

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