Citizen empowerment is the cornerstone of any democracy.
However, empowerment shall not be limited to simply voting for the policy makers at various levels. It must also encompass access to information, participation in vital policy framing and active involvement in implementing the key initiatives. By invoking the power of 1.25 billion people in taking the country towards progress, democracy can really manifest its positive aspect of an all-inclusive growth. A New India shall emerge.
Digital can be a great tool in invoking the collective powers of the citizens as it can help transcend the problem of time and space. It can make the processes involved faster and enhance the reach through the ubiquitous Internet. There are several such initiatives taken by the Government of India to promote citizen participation and their empowerment will take our country to newer heights.
Here’s a peek at a few schemes that shall go a long way in helping citizens help themselves.
Dial.gov is a window for dissemination of welfare information provided by the government. It is an initiative with the aim to bridge the gap between the benefit and the beneficiary. This is a free of cost service.
There has been an increasing demand by the community that data collected with the deployment of public funds should be made more readily available to all, for enabling rational debate, better decision-making and use in meeting civic society needs. Data.gov.in fills this demand. This site has been launched as a part of the Open Government Initiative. The policy envisages proactive dissemination of data by Government ministries/ departments/ organizations.
Several initiatives like the MyGov, eTaal, GARV, and Meri Sadak that support citizen participation in policy formulation and implementation or promote transparency by sharing government data with the larger public.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan is a campaign by the Government of India to clean the streets, roads and the infrastructure of the country with the objective to reduce and finally eliminate open defecation. A proactive step has been taken and it’s heartening to see citizens look for solutions with a little help from the government.
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana is a flagship scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. The objective of this skill certification scheme is to enable the Indian youth to take up industry-relevant skill training that will help them in securing a better livelihood. Under this scheme, training and assessment fees are completely paid by the government.
Bunker Mitra is the Government of India’s helpline for handloom weavers that provide a single point of contact to handloom weavers across the country for addressing queries and providing guidance.
Army is our country’s pride. Our countrymen sleep peacefully knowing they are safe and protected with the men in uniform manning our borders. Any pain caused to our soldiers hits us all in some way. For all those who want to help our bravehearts’ families, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India has a website Bharat ke Veer. This is an initiative to pay homage to the bravehearts who laid down their lives in the line of duty. Using this platform individual can contribute directly into the bank accounts of the soldiers’ kin.
Our youth is our strength. To educate them, provide employment for them and to harness their energies for growth is what will propel us to greater heights. Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Yojana provides self-employment to educated unemployed youth. It helps in setting up of the self-employed ventures through industry, service and business routes.
There are many more initiatives like Start Up India and Mudra Yojana that should be part of this list. Apart from these specific initiatives aimed at promoting participation and empowerment, there are several government portals that have sections that invite citizens to give their inputs in formulation of policies, acts, rules and other functions of the central and state governments.
Undoubtedly, the government is taking several steps to empower the citizens by using digital technologies. There are still a few problems it needs to tackle. One, there seems to be a problem of plenty. The same citizens come across several announcements and schemes that may confuse and deter them from participation. A unified approach may be required. Two, the level of awareness of these schemes may be low. How can it leverage citizens to make the intended beneficiaries aware can be a good strategy. And three, these should be simplified to an extent that citizen participation is effortless and intuitive.
We are all learning and working on the many ways in which these issues can be addressed as and when they emerge. A collective effort shall make the government’s endeavors bear the desired fruit.