Sri. Srivatsa Krishna IAS - Secretary to Government
CeG leads the e-Transform Initiative of the Karnataka Government that aims at helping government leaders to access high quality global expertise, appropriate technologies, efficient processes, and necessary financial resources for designing and implementing transformative projects in state departments.
‘Road to Digital India Starts from Bangalore’
Mobile One initiative of the Karnataka Government is the largest successful mGovernance project Across the Country facilitating direct governance, says Srivatsa Krishna, Secretary, Department of IT, Biotechnology and Science and Technology, and Secretary, e-governance ,Government of Karnataka, in an interview with Dr. Ravi Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, eGov magazine.
The concept of MobileOne, wherein all government services are integrated to one platform, is unique to India. How was conceptualised?
This is the first of its Kind in the country. Ms. Gunjan Krishna, IAS, conceptualised it as a platform for delivering government services. The model included value-added services. Which could be either from the private sector or the government? Soon after taking over the job. I realised the immense potential of this platform. If it restricted to government services, it is likely that one may lose out delivery of a lot of other services to citizens. So, we transformed and re-designed it, putting the citizen at the centre of the Mobile platform’s universe. Citizen use different services for booking rail ticket, movie ticket, and others. Around the world, usually government services drive volumes, whereas private services drive profitability. So, we have brought them together. MobileOne is a hybrid model where the government and private sector complement each other and leverage the synergies between the two.
How did you manage to convince as many as department to join the initiative?
t’s all about leadership and management. It look about year-and-a- half from start to finish, which as per government standards, is quite fast. All over colleague are extending excellent support and cooperation, for they are keen to see their respective services delivered on the mobile. Further, the leadership of the Chief Minister mattered a lot, because he was ready to get all the secretaries and ministers using the old fashioned manner. Now, it makes it easy for people to pay for the services they are being delivered just at the tap of a button. With MobileOne service, they don’t need to stand in queues before the counters and these are available anytime (aka 27*7), anywhere (any location) an d anyhow (any device on any OS). We are NOW looking at a model like free charge, where we will pay the citizen for paying their electricity bill though mobile phones as an incentive. That will be truly path breaking.
How is your initiative different from Mobile Seva initiative at the centre?
You have to experience it to believe it. Mobile Seva of the Government of India still has a long way to go. It needs complete redesign and overhaul. There are a number of points of difference which we have shared via email including accessibility across telcos, range and diversity of services, multiple modes of service delivery, types of payments, etc.
Do you have the advantage of various departments already taking care of their backend work?
Yes they do. But there are other states, who have more departments online than us. We don’t have so many. However, those who are there are pretty good and we use those. That is why we are trying to get more and more departments to hook up with their online service using their existing Web services, so that we can bring them on MobileOne.
How was this project funded?
It has been funded largely by the state Government. Also, the central Government has given a couple of crores. Hopefully, with these usage charges for private value-added services, premium services charge and all. We will able to give it independence from budget strings.
Any plan to revamp the again IT infrastructure in the State?
The State Government is very clear. We did a study recently that said Karnataka is the Second-largest IT cluster on the planet after Silicon Valley. By 2020, we will have two million direct IT professionals, Six million indirect IT jobs and export worth Rs 4 lakh crore- 40 per cent of India’s total software export from just one city! Thus the infrastructure to make it happen has to be world class. As far as e-Governance is concerned, the state has had excellent infrastructure by creating the next-gen could-based, device agnostic architecture by way of KESWAN 2.0, SDC2.0, etc. This will serve the state for the next 10 years.
Tell us about other States in India that intend to replicate the Karnataka’s MobileOne model.
Many have come and seen it and have taken the bid document and design and services specification. Many Government of India secretaries have also come and observed it. Three of them have already borrowed our Request for Proposal (RFP). I THINK Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu have shown an interest.
I believe if states adopt this or a similar model, this would be the first example of what I would like to call ‘direct government’. It is available to the citizen anytime, anywhere, anyhow.
How do you see vis-a-vis governance?
The future is simply mobile and the future is personal. So, the next big thing will be personalised government. In the next 10 years or so, I believe much of government services would not involve a physical component at all. Which is what we are aiming to offer for the first time in India. With the nature and quantity of data being collected, there is no reason why this cannot be leveraged to give extremely personalised citizen services.
Taking about healthcare and education, how can the advantages of mobility be leveraged in these sectors?
We can think of providing Smartphone to every citizen in the state free of cost, cross subsidised through advertising revenues by lead companies like Samsung, Apple, etc. It can be done through a business model which would enable them to provide those almost free in exchange for targeted ads on our apps. Once devices are there, those can virtually become personal electronic health cards, eCards, mCards (mobile payment cards for every citizen on the phone),etc. All the vitals can be stored in the devices to be used during emergencies. Already there are apps in Mobile One to search for doctors, book appointments, rate doctor’s performance, etc.
‘The future is Simply mobile and the future is personal. So, the next big thing will be personalised government. In the next 10 years or So, I believed much of government services would not involve a physical component’
Similarly ,in the field of education, we have begun a dialogue which two-three large institutions to explore the possibility of starting tablet- or mobile-based education. However, there are also some limitations to the mobile platform and not everything can be done through it.
How do you market this app to the other departments which are not yet on board?
It’s like breaking a lock: you keep hitting at it, make them see value and someday the lock will break and they will come on to it. Many of them have shown interest, including food, civil supplies, energy and police departments. If they join, things will become further easier for the citizens.
MobileOne is said to be the largest mobile platform...
Yes , we got certification from the interest & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) stating that we are the single-largest multi-mode mobile governance platform in the world. That’s really big.
Prime Ministers has been talking about mGovernance, but it’s Karnataka which seems to have taken the lead.
That’s right. Ours is an initiative, which could be adopted as a model across the country. I actually feel that the road to ‘Digital India’ starts from Bangalore, not from Delhi. We got deep appreciation from His Excellency President of India and from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Beyond this app, what other IT-related initiative have been started by the department?
we have just started work on India’s first IoT lab in partnership with Motorola and a few others in India’s first start up warehouse, which has been done in partnership with Nasscom. We will have close to 500 seats for start-ups there. Two of our starups were bought over last year by big companies in Silicon Valley. So, this is a huge initiative for encouraging the creative talent latent in Bangalore. Further, we will soon establish India’s first mobile apps incubator and a design lab here.