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Civic technology: An Indian Case 

  • IASbaba
  • January 4, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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GOVERNANCE

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures

Civic technology: An Indian Case 

Context:

  • Civic technology, or civic tech, enhances the relationship between the people and government with software for communications, decision-making, service delivery, and political process. 
  • It includes information and communications technology supporting government with software built by community-led teams of volunteers, non-profits, consultants, and private companies.

India’s Case: IChangeMyCity

  • In the Indian context, civic technology can broadly be divided into two themes—tools aimed at improving civic engagement, and those directed at streamlining government services.
  • In 2012, IChangeMyCity enabled citizens to share complaints about civic issues through its platform. 
  • It also provided municipalities with real-time grievance data to resolve. 
  • Organizations such as Reap Benefit, through their online platform, work with young people to create solutions for civic problems such as low-cost sanitation systems from discarded plastic.

Foreign Example:

  • Since 2014, the vTaiwan project, which started out as a citizen movement, has been working to build consensus among Taiwanese citizens about contentious issues.
  • Consensus derived through vTaiwan is utilized to draft new laws and regulations for citizens.
  • In the US, Vote.org uses technology to register voters and increase voter turnout.

Case study:

  • A field worker for his local corporator in Mumbai, notices that in his slum dengue claims several lives every monsoon. Authorities turn a blind eye because the deaths are often not documented. 
  • Field worker uses an online tool, designed to conduct surveys in low literacy areas, to gather feedback from his community.
  • He presents his corporator with data that states that 94% of residents in his slum are aware of the causes of dengue, yet, the disease remains widespread because of uncovered sewage lines. 
  • The corporator presents this data to the municipality and the sewage lines are promptly covered, preventing further dengue deaths.

Conclusion:

  • In India, a growing number of internet users is coupled with a young population, accustomed to demanding participation in all facets of their lives, including greater participation in governance. This combination is pushing governments to be more participatory and efficient.

Connecting the dots:

  • How do you think Civic Technology leads to good governance?
  • Do you think it brings in transparency into the system?

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