PM Narendra Modi plans digital cloud for every Indian

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's next big push to free up service delivery from the hold of the lower bureaucracy will be in the form of a 'digital cloud' for every Indian. Certificates issued by the government — education, residential, medical records, birth certificates etc — are to be stored in individual 'digital lockers' and a communication protocol established for government departments to access them without physically having to see the hard copy.

Information and technology secretary Ram Sewak Sharma, who is overseeing the ambitious programme of the government, told ET that this was one of the ideas Modi had frequently flagged as something that would resonate with all Indians.

"The Prime Minister was very clear that he didn't want copies of certificates issued by the government itself to be carried around by people to government offices for various services. For example, if a student is applying for a government college and has studied in a government-aided school, his birth certificate, identity details and educational certificates, school-leaving details et al should be accessible by organisations where he is applying. Similarly for medical records," he said.

The first step in this endeavour is floating the idea on the portal, where suggestions for working out a "communication protocol" or what is called an applications programming interface (API) will be solicited. "There is a vast resource of talent out there which we are engaging with now," Sharma said.

Top sources in the government confirmed that the decision to take the programme to the public through the interface along with inviting suggestions for what should happen to the Planning Commission was part of Modi's effort to liberate policy formulation from what's referred to as the 'India International Centre' clique. "This is very much what he did during the election campaign in terms of sourcing new ideas and suggestions, and going with it," said a source in the government.

Sharma terms as on its way to being the "world's largest platform in citizen engagement in policy making." Others in the government said that it kicked off on May 16, the day the BJP registered its massive win. "Every message of congratulations was responded to with a link, a form which solicited your areas of interest and skill sets, the idea, even then was to go off the Beltway, as Barack Obama put it, and source ideas from people with talent and qualifications but who, for professional reasons, are outside of the policy ecosystem," said a source.

As of now, more than two lakh people have registered on the portal. Two tasks — designing the Independence Day e-greeting to be issued by the government and the logo of the finance ministry — have already been completed. Ideas for Digital India have received the maximum number of suggestions, followed by 'Clean India' and job creation. "As of now a small team from the National Informatics Centre is manually sifting through the suggestions, but we are looking at a more man-machine hybrid sifting process," added Sharma.



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