Field Experience

My Vote My Right – eIndia 2013 Awards – Pl Vote in Public Choice Category

Dear Friend,

My project on Youth Voter Awareness through Social Media is nominated in eIndia 2013 Governance Awards.
It is a bold experiment to use social media and web to connect with Youth Voters and received well. I was awarded the Best Returning Officer for use of technology by Election Commission of India.
I request you to Vote in the Public Choice category and by visiting the link below. (before midnight july 14th)
Scroll down to G2C Category and select My Vote My Right and submit.
Also spread the word on facebook and email please.
More details of the project is given below.
Thanks for your support.
Nagarajan M

My Vote My Right – Youth Voter Awareness

  • Project Category
    : Governance
    Sub Category: Government to Citizens (G2C)
    Reference No.: eindia2013/awards/242

    Details of Programme /Project/Initiative:

    Brief Description:
    Voter Awareness Campaign using Social Media for maximum participation.

    To spread awareness about Election process, inform Voters and increase voting in elections.

    Target Group: Voters of Gujarat with focus on Youth.

    Geographical Reach within India: State of Gujarat

    Date From which the Project became Operational: 15-7-2012

    Is the Project still operational?: Yes

    Five points that make the Product/Programme/Project/Initiative/School innovative:

    1. Facebook Quiz application for Voter Awareness .
    2. Pledge to Vote by sending SMS.
    3. Integration of Voter Registration and Polling Booth Locator in Facebook Page.
    4. Polling booth locator, Polling Officer Locator and Voter Registration in single Website .
    5. Direct Update of Awareness activities by the Government Staff in Social Media.

    Five key achievements of the Product/Programme/Project/Initiative/School:

    1. Proof of concept for Engaging Youth Voters through social media.
    2. Increased Capacity of Government Staff to adapt to new age thinking and performance.
    3. Increased Voter Awareness and Participation in Elections.
    4. Introduction of New Media in reaching out to Citizens.
    5. Model for using Technology to improve Government Outreach.

    Five key challenges faced while implementing the Product/Programme/Project/Initiative/School and how they were overcome:

    . Sensitizing Government Officers and Staff about potential of New Media.
    2. Training for behaviour change and communication management.
    3. Optimal Web Application design to achieve Campaign Objectives.
    4. Convincing Higher authorities on using Social Media in Government.
    5. Creating content that is interesting and useful in a easy to digest format.

    Five points that make the Product/Programme/Project/Initiative/School replicable:

    1. Built on scalable open source software.
    2. Election Rules are same across the Country. Country adoption is easy.
    3. Multi Author Multi Location Capable architecture.
    4. Simple model for using the Power of existing Social networks like Facebook and Twitter and Youtube.
    5. Even Government Staff with minimal Computer knowledge can operate.

    Five points to elaborate on the scalability of the Product/Programme/Project/Initiative/School:

    1. First Time Social Media has been used in an official election campaign.
    2. Proves that Social Media is not a reputation risk but useful tool.
    3. Targeted messages to audience is possible only through use of technology and analytics.
    4. Any Government Servant like Clerk can use the system all across India.
    5. Built on Open Source reliable software and uses Social Network Platforms.

    More at

Alwar Vahini – a transport model for emerging cities.

Alwar city with a population of about 3.5 lakhs  is one of the fastest growing cities of Rajasthan and the NCR region. For the past decade with a rapid rise in industrialization and economic development in the district, there has been a strain on the existing infrastructure of the city. The District Administration with the support of agencies like RTO,Banks, UIT Alwar and Tata Motors has changed the transport system for the better.

The project introduced Euro IV compliant four wheelers to replace the auto rickshaws. Bank funding and exchange programme helped make the project viable. Support infrastructure and soft skills training were provided to drivers. A control room to monitor traffic was put in place.

alwar vahini launch

Alwar Vahini: Co-operative society. A Co-operative society was formed of all the Alwar Vahini owners so that common benefits like insurance can be provided to the members. All members shall have to undergo a free annual compulsory medical check-up which shall involve physical fitness, eyesight check etc. The office bearers chosen by the society shall be the contact persons so that administrative orders can be conveyed to all members through the co-operative. To engender a feeling of belonging to a close knit group and build up an unique group culture of “samman aur seva” – which is the motto of Alwar Vahini, regular meetings and get-togethers are held.

An attractive exchange programme has been provided for the present three wheeler owners. The intention is that the persons who are presently engaged in the public transport trade are given the first opportunity to upgrade to a better means of transport. 515 three wheeler owners from Alwar city have submitted their names for the exchange offer. Once the exchange is fully done, Alwar would become free of three wheelers.


Support Infrastructure Development: A holistic approach has been taken to ensuring a well managed traffic situation in the city. Towards that end, the following measures have been taken

  1. Construction of 20 modern bus stops on the New Delhi pattern
  2. Installation of 15 high resolution CCTV cameras throughout the city
  3. Construction of a modern Police control room
  4. Widening of main city thoroughfares (67 kms in total underway)
  5. Erection of 25 High mast lights
  6. Beautification and reengineering of 5 city roundabouts
  7. 1040 Signages installed throughout the city on the New Delhi pattern
  8. 4 City entry gates with traditional Rajasthani architecture
  9. Reengineering of all t – junctions which are accident prone and construction of slip lanes.
  10. 4 New ROB’s which have been approved by the government.
  11. Collapsible traffic management gates installed
  12. Police watch towers installed

Project website:

International Bike Rally to Open The Great Indian Road

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”400px” height=”” background_color=”#cee8fa” border_width=”2″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

[/dropshadowbox] Armstrong Pame, a young IAS Officer from Manipur built a 100km road with People’s contribution. In cash and in kind. Village volunteers worked for more than six months to build this road in a rough terrain. Donations started pouring in with facebook spreading the message far and wide. This road became the first crowd funded road to be built in India and probably the world.


Villagers clearing away a thicket with their machetes and daos. Photo-by-Armstrong-Pame

International Bike Rally and Inauguration of People’s Road


Date: 15 February 2013
6 AM: Dimapur – Jalukie: 50 km: 1 Hr
7 AM: Jalukie – Peren: 23: km: 45 minutes
7: 45: Peren: Lunch
8:30: Peren – Tenning: 47 km: 2 hours
10: 30 Tenning – Ntuma: 23km: 45 minutes
11: 15 Ntuma – Barak River: 20km: 45 minutes
12: 00 Barak – Tamei: 19 km: 1 Hr
1: 00 Tamei: Refreshment
1: 30 Tamei – Tamenglong 45 km: 2 Hours
3: 30 Tamenglong
Date: 15 Feb 2013
9 AM: Imphal
10: 30: Noney
12: 00 Khongsang
1:00 Sinrongpeng
3: 30 Tamenglong
8 AM: Assemble at ITS, Chiuluan
8: 15 Flag off and Prayer: Dr. Adui Newme, Gen Secy ZBCC
8: 30 Tamenglong Bazaar
10:00 Barak River
11 – 11: 30 Azuram Village: Refreshment
12:00 Makhu River
12 – 1:30 Fun Time, Swimming, Film Shooting
2: 30 – 3:00 Tousem: Refreshment
3: 30 Phoklong Village
17 Feb 2013
6 AM: Phoklong
7 Katangnam
7: 45 Jiri River
8: 30 Breakfast at Tungje Village: Along with Haflong Team
10: 30 Back to Katangnam Village
17 Feb 2013
6 AM: Haflong – Mahur: 1 Hour
7 AM: Mahur – Asalu: 20 Minutes
7: 20: Asalu – Laisong: 45 Minutes
8: 05: Laisong – Zaichak: 10 Minutes
8: 15: Zaichak – Tungje
8: 30 Tungje : Breakfast
9: 30 Tungje – Katangnam: 1 Hour
10: 30 Katangnam Village

Want to Innovate in Government–Overcome these seven challenges

innovation in government

(Photo credit)

If you are an Officer in Government  who wants to find a solution to a challenge or address a pain point in his working, he turns to technology to derive a solution. But not all initiatives reach a critical milestone or scale up to full fledged solutions. Despite the passion to make a difference why only a few of the efforts work and produce outcomes. To understand this you can find out which among the following is the challenge you face and find a solution accordingly. Here we go.

1. More often than not rules prevent Officers from trying out something new. One gets punished if something goes wrong but nothing is done if one doesn’t even perform at normal levels. When ever you discuss a possible solution to a problem the common reply you will get is “ there is no provision for that”. You have to actually convince those who matter that what you say is actually doable and it is worth doing it.

2. Funding a pilot is hard because there is no earmarked scheme or source kept for new projects. Most of the time innovative projects are difficult to be justified under existing norms because the basic aim of innovation is to redefine the norms and improve them. The funding authority may not believe that your solution will actually help. Or worse she may think “why the hell should I do this?” . So it leads to point no. 1.

3. One has to depend on specialized departments which are not always enthusiastic about your demand for their resources. You are not a priority to them. The mandated departmentally approved project is. For example if I want to use a particular Content Management System (CMS) to manage my Office website its not possible for a variety of reasons. Here are some:

    • The server is windows based, so the open source Linux based CMS will not be compatible.
    • Maintenance of all websites have been contracted off to an agency so you need to contact them to make any changes. It will take you two days and ten phone calls to just reach the agency.
    • You can make your own website and update but we will not provide official domain names.
    • If you want to install your own system it has to be security audited but we will not make it easy to do it.
    • There is no policy for updation by the user office. Make a written request to the IT department. Most probably you will get a reply that it cant be done stating one of the reasons above.

4. Innovation is seen as something happening is special labs and dedicated institutions and incubators. Rather innovation is a natural and evolutionary phenomenon that happens everyday and everywhere in the organization. The need is to identify, pick and scale the right innovation that contributes to the achievement of organizational objectives. The answer: Evangelize your idea and work like a Govpreneur.

5. Lack of sharing and collaboration leads to multiple reinvention of wheel. On a given issue there are multiple experiments and innovations going on all over the country and the knowledge and experience are not shared. So everyone moves from 0 to 10 on a given issue, but nobody takes a 10 and makes it 15.

For example Many states are working on reducing dropout rates and tracking a child throughout school years with multiple projects going on simultaneously. There is no visible effort to cumulate the results and pick the best features of each approach and find the best model. Its even difficult to find out if any such project is happening elsewhere.

6. Connecting with the right people is a challenge. For example when an officer wants to explore and adopt opengov ideas and open data practices his IT department may not have the expertise or interest in such an initiative. And technology experts who are interested in such issues discuss in closed email groups and forums. So finding and accessing their expertise is difficult and when it happens, it is more a coincidence than a thoughtful effort.

7. Even if anyone succeeds in creating a worthwhile solution by working with a technical partner you cannot contract work to the  partner to directly because the financial rules come into play. One cannot favor a partner just because he has worked to create a solution for you. Then why would a private organization/person commit resources/time for you.

Most of these challenges are small but can make your next big idea remain just an idea. Once you start putting time and effort on an issue you will encounter a modified version of the challenges discussed. One needs to still work at it because all innovations in any walk of life was made by those who dared to dream and worked at it consistently no matter what. Consistency beats all odds. Good luck.

Voter Registration woes In India and elsewhere – a perspective

Online Voter Registration  is in news, in India and elsewhere. In USA the state of Maryland became the 1oth state to introduce online voter registration. The potential voter needs to have a voters license to register online. This is particularly useful to highly mobile populace like businessmen and students. In USA the states are required to maintain a common Voter roll for all cities and counties.

one in eight names on voter registration lists is incorrect, nearly 2 million deceased individuals are listed as voters, and about 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state, the study says. In 2008, some 2.2 million voters arrived at the polls and couldn’t vote because of registration glitches. And finally, 25 percent of eligible voters are not on the registration lists for one reason or another and therefore could not vote even if they wanted to.

Recorder Helen Purcell, who handles elections for Maricopa County, said 75 to 80 percent of voter registrations there are done online. The county implemented online voter registration in 2003, and it cut the cost to register a new voter or update an existing record from 83 cents to 3 cents. Accuracy also improved since every data field must be filled in online.


In India its difficult to arrive at a figure. The Election Commission of India conducts regular voter enrolment drive and electoral roll revisions. These activities are carried out intensively before elections are due. To ensure that the voter list is as clean and accurate as possible, a state level de-duplication is carried out and similar EPIC or similar names list is drawn up for verification and deletion. Online application facility is available in many states in India.

Issue areas:

1. Proof of residence – the Electoral registration law in India requires a person to be ordinarily resident in an area, which does not provide a clear definition. On the contrary in the USA voters who reside for last 30 days in an area are eligible to register. Some states even allow same day registration. Some state does not allow convicted persons to register as voter.  It is seen in India that when a person migrates to another place even permanently he still prefers to retain his name in his village as a proof of residence. Such enrolments play a great role in local body elections (Village Panchayat) as the difference between the winner and the losers in very marginal in such elections.

2. Photo – Difficulties exist in collecting photos particularly in rural areas. The farmers live in their fields and taking a photo implies additional cost and lost labour time. It also involves long travel in many cases. On the other hand the field staff go out of their way to get the photos by capturing the photo on their crude mobile devices and printing them.

3. Deletion – This happens in three cases. Expired, shifted and repeated names. The birth and death registration rate is high leading to accurate deletions. Shifted cases are controversial and require stringent procedure to be followed, reducing probability of deletions. This leads to high rate of false positives. In case of repeated names a decision taken to delete one or accept both after verification.

4. Inclusiveness – Old persons, illiterates, homeless, slum dwellers are left out due various documentation lacunae. Though some efforts are taken at many levels the exclusion still prevails.


In conclusion, the voter registration exercise in India though serving its purpose is carried out without any consideration of the cost factor. The benchmark data from census and the actual electoral roll figures are calculated from different bases lending no accuracy to calculations of ratios. At best these are poor statistical approximations, with a bias towards additions than deletions. However, it WORKS.