Citizen’s Role & Participation in New India by Dr Arvind Gupta, CEO-MyGov

India should not make decisions sitting in a room. Every decision should be taken by inputs from people.” - Vision of PM Shri Narendra Modi

Public Policy Research Centre (PPRC) organized a Thinkathon on June 2, 2018 in Maharashtra Sadan, New Delhi for young minds with keen interest in policy making and ideas to realize the ideal of New India dreamt by PM Narendra Modi. Like-minded enthusiasts from different sectors took part and shared their innovative ideas. He shared the initiatives of the government to realize the ambition of digital India and its direct bearing on people’s empowerment and transparency through initiatives such as MyGov, Bhim App, Jan Dhan, DBT etc. He touched upon the achievements of the governments in creating a functioning participative democracy in the nation, importance of technology and innovation and advancement of the nation.

Technology is undoubtedly a defining feature of the emerging world order. The communities are getting smaller and there is increased inter dependence and accountability within groups. This is also manifested in government’s increased focus on digital governance, transparency and accountability through information technology. Dr. Arvind Gupta, CEO MyGov, shared his valuable insights on how government is changing the face of governance and policy making through digital platforms. Ensuring constant performance evaluation by the citizens, real time data is available on all government schemes and initiatives. This has not only empowered the citizens but has also set afoot a new era of governance, where every citizen is an active participant in nation building.

He very succinctly put forth the vision of a platform like MyGov 2014 and stated that, ‘Our PM wanted to make sure that not only Governance and trust in governance reaches citizens and last mile but also voice of last mile reaches the right people in the Government.’ . This dual objective is being achieved by sharing data online, creating awareness amongst people and maintaining accountability towards the beneficiaries. It also resonates among the people, as over 6 million people actively participate in MyGov on regular basis. MyGov also showcases videos featuring beneficiaries of various schemes like Jan Dhan Yojna, Ujjwala Yojna, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana etc. Citizens share their success stories how the schemes have changed their life. This brings trust in government for being transparent to citizens. The entire feedback mechanism works together to create a synthesis amongst citizens and the policy makers which are essential for functioning of a health democracy.

He further pointed out that another milestone MyGov achieved as a platform was to make sure that citizens participate in the Governance and give their suggestions and criticism on policies. Earlier the policies were created in closed rooms and released for people without their suggestions. Now, when a policy is created/drafted, it’s first released on MyGov for people to give their suggestions and feedbacks for changes. Every Friday, there is round table conference with Senior Ministers and IAS Officers who are responsible for drafting that policy. Feedbacks from citizens are reviewed and policy is re-drafted if required.

This is how good governance is done in a democracy. There are 100s of examples where ideas and suggestions from citizens have been implemented to root level. Dr. Gupta also encouraged people to join MyGov and participate in various discussions.


Impact of Digital Media on Democracy

Being a digital media enthusiast, Dr. Gupta briefed, how digital media is playing a super crucial role in democracy. “In 2014 general elections 160-170 seats were impacted by digital media/social networks whereas in 2019 general elections 350-400 seats are estimated to be impacted.” These mind boggling figures speak for themselves the power of digital media and its game changing impact on future. Referring to incidents like Cambridge analytica he cautioned how data theft can prove to be costly and one needs to practice restraint and caution on social media. He very categorically stated, “We've to ensure that these remain neutral and as integral part of our democratic system and not harm our democracy

With changing dynamics of society and technology taking over every domain of our lives, we have to both leverage this wonderful opportunity and also practice adequate prudence in its use and not be completely swayed by it. Underlining India’s capability in becoming leaders in bringing about this huge transformation he said that we can be leaders in this with the cheapest and efficient technology of the world. Technology would be a defining feature of New India, while we are already on the tracks, he highlighted the need for behavioral change among people as essential for realizing the true benefits of digitization and modernization.

- Reflections on Dr. Arvind Gupta’s thoughts by Nikhil Aneja


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