The Story of Creation of the Digital Village that defied the Cash ban #Demonitisation

Believing in Technology as enabler of Development is one thing. Being able to implement a vision and see it emerge right is surreal. Demonitisation and the subsequent cash crunch has led to increased focus on digital payments that has now catapulted this Akodara village once again into limelight.

It was in two years ago in the early winter of 2014 representatives from ICICI Bank discussed about ideas on making a village cashless village using digital modes. Sabarkantha was emerging as a model district in the country for using digital technologies in Rural development. As the District Development Officer of Sabarkantha District  of Gujarat i floated the idea of making it digital all around touching Anganwadi, WiFi in Village, cyber cafe etc. Everyone got excited on the possibilities of creating a model village of the future.

Over a period of next two months the idea took shape with frequent visit by bank officials with all local support rendered by Himatnagar Taluka Panchayat team and the Sabarkantha District Panchayat. Everyone contributed their might. The Director of District Rural Development Agency Ms.Bhargavi Dave, Taluka Development Officer Mr.Ganshyam Prajapati and team looked into other development needs of the village and facilitation. The District Panchayat team made arrangements to deploy WiFi tower and connectivity to this unconnected village within a week. ICICI Bank brought in systems for cashless payments, e-Education in school, Skill training for youth, elearning tools for Anganwadi, eHealth centre etc.

akodara sarpanch

Sarpanch, Akodara Village Smt.Tharaben being felicitated by Hon. PM Narendra Modi during inauguration fo Digital Village.

Everyone involved in this were driven by the vision to do something that belongs to the future. The Bank wanted to give a product to a community that needs it the most took the risk of being ahead of time. The district officials and staff who believed that this will add value to the lives of the village went beyond their call of duty to make atleast one village a benchmark in digital ways. The Sarpanch (Smt. Tharaben) took a big political risk of prodding her voters to a newer way of thinking and digital living in the hope that they will realize that its better for them in the long run, just like what Hon. PM Modi is trying through demonitisation.

M.Nagarajan IAS being felicitated for creating Digital Village by Hon. PM Narendra Modi

M.Nagarajan IAS (author) , District Development Officer, Sabarkantha is being felicitated for creating Digital Village by Hon. PM Narendra Modi

When a cutting edge work happens somewhere a set of people are taking risks in the hopes of creating something better than what it is today. It doesnt matter if the outcomes are achieved or not, because after it is done everyone comes out a bit better than what they were when it started. There is no guarantee that we can create the future we want, but somebody’s got to try.

P.S.

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Aadhaar Card Gets Legal Backing to Enforce Mandatory Usage!

The movement to fully legalize Aadhaar usage has now reached its crescendo, as Govt. notified all but one provision of the Aadhaar Bill (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services). In layman terms, this means that Aadhaar Card has now legal backing, and the Govt. of India can (and will) impose its usage forcefully, across every Govt. scheme.

The only exception to the mandatory usage of Aadhaar card is the issue of privacy, based on which Supreme Court has still stop its usage. But privacy is a subjective matter, and there are tons of legal loopholes to make this issue a minor one.

Source: Aadhaar Card Gets Legal Backing to Enforce Mandatory Usage!

How civic intelligence can teach what it means to be a citizen

Douglas Schuler, Evergreen State College

Civic Intelligence converts the real value of peoples preferences and will into formal structure of democracy. It is the real energy that activates the democratic process. – Govpreneur

This political season, citizens will be determining who will represent them in the government. This, of course, includes deciding who will be the next president, but also who will serve in thousands of less prominent positions.

But is voting the only job of a citizen? And if there are others, what are they? Who decides who will do the other jobs – and how they should be done?

The concept of “civic intelligence” tries to address such questions.

I’ve been researching and teaching the concept of “civic intelligence” for over 15 years. Civic intelligence can help us understand how decisions in democratic societies are made now and, more importantly, how they could be made in the future.

For example, my students and I used civic intelligence as the focus for comparing colleges and universities. We wanted to see how well schools helped educate their students for civic engagement and social innovation and how well the schools themselves supported this work within the broader community.

My students also practiced civic intelligence, as the best way of learning it is through “real world” projects such as developing a community garden at a high school for incarcerated youth.

So what is civic intelligence? And why does it matter?

Understanding civic intelligence

Civic intelligence describes what happens when people work together to address problems efficiently and equitably. It’s a wide-ranging concept that shows how positive change happens. It can be applied anywhere – from the local to the global – and could take many forms.

For example, civic intelligence was seen in practice when representatives of the world’s governments created and unanimously approved a global action plan last year in Paris. While climate change remains an immense threat, this global cooperation involving years of dedicated debate and discussion produced a common framework for action for worldwide reduction of greenhouse gases.


Civic intelligence describes when people work together to address problems.
Takver, CC BY-SA

Another example is that of mayors around the world establishing networks such as the Global Parliament of Mayors to bring elected officials together on a regular basis to discuss issues facing cities, such as housing, transportation and air quality. One of these networks, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, was launched when representatives of the world’s 40 largest cities wanted to collaborate to address climate change.

Similarly, millions of researchers, teachers, artists, other individuals and NGOs worldwide are working to improve their cities and communities. These efforts are amazingly diverse.

In one such case, groups of church members and others from the community in Olympia, Washington, worked for several years with homeless people and families to develop affordable housing solutions. And in Brooklyn, a group of young people started an experimental School of the Future to develop their ideas on what schools could or should be.

What’s the history?

The term “civic intelligence” was first used in English in 1898 by an American clergyman Josiah Strong in his book “The Twentieth Century City” when he wrote of a “dawning social self-consciousness.”

Untold numbers of people have been thinking and practicing civic intelligence without using the term. A brief look at some notable efforts reveals some historic approaches to its broader vision. Let’s take a few:


Laurie Chipps, CC BY-ND
  • John Dewey, the prominent social scientist, educator and public intellectual, was absorbed for much of his long professional life with understanding how people pool their knowledge to address the issues facing them.
  • The American activist and reformer Jane Addams, who in 1889 cofounded the Hull House in Chicago, which housed recent immigrants from Europe, pioneered scores of civically intelligent efforts. These included free lectures on current events, Chicago’s first public playground and a wide range of cultural, political and community research activities.

Civic intelligence today

There are more contemporary approaches as well. These include:

  • Sociologist Xavier de Souza Briggs’ research on how people from around the world have integrated the efforts of civil society, grassroots organizations and government to create sustainable communities.
  • With a slightly different lens, researcher Jason Corburn has examined how “ordinary” people in economically underprivileged neighborhoods have used “Street Science” to understand and reduce disease and environmental degradation in their communities.
  • Elinor Ostrom, recently awarded the Nobel Prize in economics, has studied how groups of people from various times and places managed resources such as fishing grounds, woodlots and pastures by working together collectively to preserve the livelihoods’ sources for future generations.

Making use of civic intelligence

Civic intelligence is generally an attribute of groups. It’s a collective capability to think and work together.

Advocates and practitioners of civic intelligence (as well as many others) note that the risks of the 21st century, which include climate change, environmental destruction and overpopulation, are quantitatively and qualitatively unlike the risks of prior times. They hypothesize that these risks are unlikely to be addressed satisfactorily by government and other leaders without substantial citizen engagement.


Civic intelligence reminds us that citizens assume responsibility.
Gonzale, CC BY-NC

They argue that with or without formal invitations, the citizen must assume more responsibility for the state of the world, especially since in some cases the leaders themselves are part of the problem.

“Ordinary” people could bring many civic skills to the public sphere, such as innovation, compassion and heroism that are indispensable to the decision-making processes.

That is what brought about changes such as human rights, overturning slavery and the environmental movement. These were initiated not by businesses or governments, but by ordinary people.

Twenty-first century civics

The civics classes that are required in the public schools mostly focus on conventional political processes. They might teach about governance in a more conventional way, such as how many senators there are (100) or how long their terms are (six years). But self-governance needs more than that.

At a basic level, “governance” happens when neighborhood groups, nonprofit organizations or a few friends come together to help address a shared concern.

Their work can take many forms, including writing, developing websites, organizing events or demonstrations, petitioning, starting organizations and, even, performing tasks that are usually thought of as “jobs for the government.”

And sometimes “governance” could even mean breaking some rules, possibly leading to far-reaching reforms. For example, without civil disobedience, the U.S. might still be a British colony. And African-Americans might still be forced to ride in the back of the bus.

As a discipline, civic intelligence provides a broad focus that incorporates ideas and findings from many fields of study. It involves people from all walks of life, different cultures and circumstances.

A focus on civic intelligence could lead directly to social engagement. I believe understanding civic intelligence could help address the challenges we must face today and tomorrow.

The Conversation

Douglas Schuler, Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies, Evergreen State College

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
The Conversation

Superpublic – Innovation Space for Goverment Academia and Industry

superpublic logo

SUPERPUBLIC is an Innovation Lab and collaborative space in San francisco city where federal, state, and city government come together with academia and the private sector to address policy and regulatory issues.

SUPERPUBLIC is the USA’s first collaborative workspace and Innovation Lab to provide a neutral space where the private sector, the public sector, nonprofits, and academia can come together and work to solve urban problems.

SUPERPUBLIC’s founding team includes the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, City Innovate Foundation, and General Services Administration, and UC Berkeley.  Additional partners in this effort include the Center for Design Research at Stanford University and MIT Media Lab.

The goal of SUPERPUBLIC is to do work that benefits a network of 100 inclusive metros. This network consists of cities, state, regional, and federal government officials committed to work together to solve urban problems, share best practices, and build capacity to test, learn, and pilot emerging technologies.

Focus areas:

  • Digital Services in Government
  • Urban Mobility
  • Changing Models for Procurement

The Concept of Superpublic originated  from France  where innovation teams from several French regions and government agencies work together.

  • Superpublic is the first space ever entirely devoted to innovation in the public sector.
  • To reinvent the way in which public policy is designed and implemented, free zones where it’s possible and encouraged to think out of the box are needed – open and neutral resource spaces with the capacity to reunite outstanding capabilities in public innovation. That’s what Superpublic is all about.
  • Covering an area of 300 square meters, Superpublic is designed and equipped to conduct creative design workshops, develop prototypes for innovating projects, organize encounters, set up specialized training sessions and share resources and workspace in a collaborative approach.
  • A space for co-working
  • Superpublic welcomes, on a full-time basis, both public and private structures that devote their activity to public innovation.
  • Superpublic’s purpose is to allow all disciplines, capabilities and public and private structures involved in transforming public policy to meet with each other and to interact.

India adopts United Nations Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics

The ten Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics, as endorsed by the UN General Assembly, are set out below:

Principle 1. Official statistics provide an indispensable element in the information system of a democratic society, serving the Government, the economy and the public with data about the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation. To this end, official statistics that meet the test of practical utility are to be compiled and made available on an impartial basis by official statistical agencies to honor citizens’ entitlement to public information.

Principle 2. To retain trust in official statistics, the statistical agencies need to decide according to strictly professional considerations, including scientific principles and professional ethics, on the methods and procedures for the collection, processing, storage and presentation of statistical data.

 Principle 3. To facilitate a correct interpretation of the data, the statistical agencies are to present information according to scientific standards on the sources, methods and procedures of the statistics.

Principle 4. The statistical agencies are entitled to comment on erroneous interpretation and misuse of statistics.

Principle 5. Data for statistical purposes may be drawn from all types of sources, be they statistical surveys or administrative records. Statistical agencies are to choose the source with regard to quality, timeliness, costs and the burden on Respondents.

Principle 6. Individual data collected by statistical agencies for statistical compilation, whether they refer to natural or legal persons, are to be strictly confidential and used exclusively for statistical purposes.

 Principle 7. The laws, regulations and measures under which the statistical systems operate are to be made public.

 Principle 8. Coordination among statistical agencies within countries is essential to achieve consistency and efficiency in the statistical system.

 Principle 9. The use by statistical agencies in each country of international concepts, classifications and methods promotes the consistency and efficiency of statistical systems at all official levels.

Principle 10. Bilateral and multilateral cooperation in statistics contributes to the improvement of systems of official statistics in all countries.

Read more at http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=144847

Get Narendra Modi Official Android App and connect with him personally

narendramodi android app

Do you like to follow what our PM Narendra Modi is doing more closely. Get the Official App of Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. It brings to you latest information, instant updates & helps you contribute towards various tasks. It provides a unique opportunity to receive messages and emails directly from the Prime Minister.

Here is an intro video on the app.

Highlights of the Narendra Modi Android app:

• Receive the latest news and updates
• Exclusive opportunity to receive E-Mails & Messages directly from the PM.
• ‘Mann Ki Baat’ with the PM.
• Small Tasks, Big Satisfaction: Contribute & earn Badges through to-do tasks.
• Your chance to Interact with the PM & share Ideas & Suggestions.
• Never miss out thoughts from PM Modi, read his Blogs.
• Know more about PM Narendra Modi through unique insights in the Biography section.
• Read about PM Modi’s Governance initiatives & achievements.
• Learn more about PM Modi’s efforts augmenting India’s Global Recognition.
• Know about how Good Governance is improving lives through Infographics.

The app was launched on 16 June 2015 and within three days it has got fabulous reviews almost touching 5 stars. Nearly 6000 people have rated the app and most of the reviews are positive and highly appreciative.

narendramodi app reviews 19 june 2015

Since its the first time any leader in India is using technology to reach out and connect to citizens the app is being welcomed by all.

STARTEDU COMPETITION BY Unitus and Sylvant- Rs. 10 Lakhs Cash Prizes, Mentoring, and 3 Crore Investment Pool

StartEdu-Competition-5-steps

The StartEdu Competition is a nationwide program looking to identify, mentor, incubate, and invest in the most promising early-stage education startups that are serving India’s masses – the 20 crore families living on under 20,000 rupees per month. StartEdu will provide cash prizes and mentoring to winners, and give the first and second place winners of each competition the opportunity to pitch for an up to Rs. one crore seed investment from Unitus Seed Fund.

To apply Click here . Last date Feb 13, 2015.

Competition Highlights

  • Two competitions, Rs. 5L cash prize for winner of each
  • First event on 27 March, 2015
  • Expert mentoring from business incubators and investors
  • Winners and runners-up pitch for investment from 3 crore pool from Unitus Seed Fund

To apply Click here . Last date Feb 13, 2015.

Drones for Good Award gets exciting entries from saving lives to crisis control

We had earlier written about Harnessing technology to improve the life of people, the UAE Drones for Good Award which had received huge response.

drone for good

 Thirty-nine contestants have made it to the semi-finals of the national, international and government levels at the UAE Drones for Good Award.

The entrants offer innovative solutions in the provision of services that benefit humanity, especially in areas such as disaster relief, public health, agriculture, environment, town planning, and logistics.

The successful entries to the semi-final stage have come from countries ranging from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Sudan to Australia, Germany, Canada, the US, UK, Spain, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, and Singapore.

Drone for Organ transport, landmine detection

A team from Spain have designed a drone that can transport organs for transplant from donor centres to the receiver efficiently and in short periods of time, thus keeping the organ alive and reducing chances of rejection. All the logistics process involving the donation and transplantation is remodelled; coordinating the communication between hospitals and creating a digital database to collect and organise all the data, streamlining the process and reducing costs and possible document losses. Our project would go a step further in the medical system, saving more lives.

A project that makes landmine detection not only efficient but also safe was also from spain. There are over 70 countries that have landmines buried in their soil, creating new victims to these deadly weapons every year. Current methods of landmine detection are slow and dangerous so we developed a method to detect mines from the air that doesn’t put people at risk.

Towing flood victims to develivering packages

Tomasz Marek Muszynski from Poland has combined observation, communication and rescue capabilities in one system to develop a drone that can detect drowning people, ensure their safety through wireless audio-video transmission system, and even help tow them to the coast at a speed controlled by a lifeguard.

Clinton Burchat from Australia has come up with a project that eliminates the need for a large yard for drones to make package deliveries.

“Current drone delivery methods require you to have a large yard. The delivery is usually done either by landing the drone in your yard or by dropping the package down on a string. Both these solutions pose danger to the recipient, including people, pets and children. The idea of my proposal is to not only to make drone delivery accurate by the millimetre but also to make it safer at the same time,” said Clinton.

Florian Seibel and his team’s Quantum project combines the advantages of a helicopter with that of a fixed-wing plane to create a drone that can fly longer, further and safer. According to Florian, due to its high payload capacity and the ability to travel more than 500km, the Quantum drone can be deployed in a number of areas such as agriculture, humanitarian aid, disaster relief and logistic purposes.

A team from Singapore has submitted a project to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a “built-in fail-safe” and “sense-and-avoid” functions, making it capable of delivering cargos efficiently and safely.

Mouza Ahmad Al Shemaili and his team, also from the UAE, have developed a multi-copter brand, Ultimate-UAV, which eliminates fog from the atmosphere in an eco-friendly way. “Our aim is to help drivers by reducing the dangers from low visibility on roads during foggy weather. In addition, the project will support civil aviation by helping avoid airport closures and flight delays, or flight manoeuvre above airports, which increases pollution,” said Mouza.

Khaled Abdelgawad from Saudi Arabia, whose project uses drones to map and track disaster zones to assist effective rapid response to crisis situation, said: “Our technology provides first responders with situational awareness, mapped damage, established target areas for disaster relief, effective communication with coordinated response plan, and aid in search and rescue efforts to identify survivors and recover the lost.”

The project submitted by Jussi Angesleva and his team from Germany uses drones to provide a bird’s-eye view of large architectural structures, which are difficult to appreciate at ground level. Explaining the way the drone project functions, Jussi said: “The flight path is predefined and autonomous, but the view that the audience gets is freely adjustable.”

Marco Urs Wuethrich from New Zealand has devised a drone that is capable of providing aerial support to coastguard rescue vessels searching for people or boats in distress situations.

The Flyability team from Switzerland has developed Gimball, a drone that can enter confined spaces and fly safely close to humans, proving to be very effective in rescue missions. “Our game-changing drone is capable of colliding with obstacles without losing its stability and, is protected by a rotating cage around, making it possible to fly very close to humans,” said Patrick Thevoz, one of the members of the Flayability team.

Alex Ramirez-Serrano from Canada has come up with a highly manoeuverable UAV that can help locate and rescue persons from buildings on fire, collapsed building, mines, or other urban and industrial entrapments.

While drones are feared as being threat to privacy and security, we are seeing UAVs with civil motive of helping make a difference to peoples lives. Govepreneurs can sense many a startup opportunity to create new projects or create a new market in this new Drone wave.

Taking Broadband and WiFi to where it doesnt Go [Hint: Rural areas]

Big Telecom always runs behind big money. Telecom companies are not interested to provide voice or data services in rural areas due to various reasons. That is the reason the Government of India brought in the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to cross subsidise rural service providers to cover the losses they make.

Reliance Jio was the first company to get pan India license to roll out 4G services and they choose 5000 towns in India covering 90% of the urban population and some 215,000 villages. Jio acquired pan-India airwaves in the 2300 MHz band four years ago but is yet to roll out services.

Reliance Jio is expected to launch services soon well ahead of the May 2015 deadline under licence conditions. Reliance Jio is said to be planning for services like live TV (Jio Play), video-on-demand (Jio World), Cloud-based sync and storage (Jio Drive), and video calls over 4G network and other apps.

In Ahmedabad, Gujarat Reliance jio rolled out 4G public wifi but doubts were raised about the actual speeds. The service was launched by the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi under the e-Nagar project. But the irony of the face is that with 150 KM (100 miles) of Ahmedbad even 2G connectivity is hard to come by. All free Wifi zones are highly urbanized areas or in restricted places like Airports and malls.

In India WiFi is available in all sorts of places except rural areas. The first step is always the urban area and rural areas receive step motherly treatment. The urban areas have multiple access options for internet, while the rural areas are left with no option. That is why in Mexico the Talea De Castro, a rural community set up its own mobile network.

It took the country 10 years to go from 10 million Internet users to 100 million Internet users. Now the country is adding five million new Internet users every month. India now has over 200 million Internet users. This year the number ofInternet users in India will surpass that of U.S. and it will be 500 million by 2018, most of it is likely to be urban users than rural users.

Hon. PM Narendra Modi spelt out a vision for Digital India from the ramparts of Red Fort on August 15, 2014 in his Independence Day speech. Digital India project’s main aim is to “transform India into digital empowered society and knowledge economy”.

Nine growth areas identified under Digital India are:

  1. Broadband highways to connect all villages and cities of India
  2. Everywhere mobile connectivity; wherein mobile coverage will be provided to every nook and corner of India
  3. Public Internet Access Program wherein internet accessibility to the web will be provided at subsidized rates (example public WiFis)
  4. eGovernance in every government department, wherein 100% paper-less environment will be encouraged
  5. e-Kranti, wherein government services would be electronically delivered
  6. Information for All policy (which includes provisioning of Right to Information using the Internet as a medium)
  7. Electronics manufacturing
  8. IT for Jobs
  9. Early harvest program

Government of India spelt out a vision of providing fibre optic connectivity to 250,000 village by 2017. But the ambitious National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) is already facing trouble when companies like BSNL, Railtel and other backbone owners are reluctant to let out their excess capacity.

About a third of India’s 252 million internet users, and a fourth of mobile internet users, are in rural areas. But internet penetration in villages, at 8.6% compared to 37.4% in cities, has a long way to go, and this is the statistics Digital India hopes to change. Broadband in India is currently defined as a connection with a minimum download speed of 512 kilo bytes per second (kbps), and India’s broadband penetration is a lowly 2%. Broadband connected villages can transform the lives of people, connect them with livelihood opportunities and bridge the knowledge divide.

As per a World Bank report, a 10% increase in a country’s broadband connections leads to a 1.38% rise in its gross domestic product. This Rural-Urban divide and the Digital Divide has to be addressed quickly and with full force if we are to fully utilize the contribution of the Rural sector to the economy.

It is imperative to look into other options to make rural broadband and rural wifi as a profitable proposition in rural areas. There is a need to create new models of broadband access depending on local needs and resources. Left to the market forces the Broadband is not going to go all places that we want it to.

Want to be a change agent in India – Your New PM wants You

Reaching out to people particularly youth is no new thing PM designate Narendra Modi. He has proved his mettle in savvy usage of technology and social media to connect with Youth Voters msot of which were first time voters too. From conducting google hangouts to tweeting he has been there and dont that.

It is no wonder that he is building his next army of social change using the motivated crowd that want to be the change and make the change. The target now is “Ek Bharat Shresth Bharat”

You can sign up as a volunteer at this page.

ekbharat shreshth bharat

In gujarat there is a scheme called Shramdhan where any aam aadmi can sign up to work on projects and contribute upto 100 hours of social work to government. Its a new way of engaging citizens directly harnessing ideas and energy to government goals.

The focus of the next five years is going to be sanitation and cleanliness. In fact varanasi has already started shramdaan to clean up its areas. We can expect more such activities pan-india scale. Go ahead Sign Up and Be the Change that you want to see in India.

Here the Government – By the Crowd, For the Crowd and Of the Crowd.