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Governance and Citizen Engagement

The government has provided the citizens of India with an opportunity to become decision makers for the country. Let us all make full use of this opportunityto build a New India

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Digital India - shutterstock_193919333

A burning global discussion topic is the merits and demerits of blockchain technologies. India too has realised the significance of digital cryptocurrencies and has formed an inter-disciplinary committee to determine a course of action. But while other countries are only examining inputs received from technical experts, the Indian government has also sought the opinion of the country's most important consultants - its citizens. The discussion forum on the government's citizen engagement portal saw a large number of participants and provided some very useful insights including, "Bitcoin is the future of currency. It has the strength to change the economy of India," "Yes, bitcoin should be legalised in India but with some rules and regulations". In another key policy of the government about Smart Cities, a massive 2.5 million Indians submitted their thoughts, suggestions, and ideas for improving their own cities and the best way to implement the policy on MyGov.

Ever since its launch in 2014 by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, MyGov has pioneered a completely unprecedented form of governance in India. It was founded on the fundamental premise that a true democracy should involve citizen participation in all aspects of governance. Indians from all parts of the country have unanimously validated it. Till date, MyGov has 42.5 lakh registered members and has received over 38 lakh entries in over 1500 discussions and contests. Over 10,000 posts on various issues are received each week on MyGov, which are analysed and compiled as suggestions for the concerned departments to organise them into actionable agendas. From sharing their views on the improvement of public sector banks to discussing the pros and cons of simultaneous elections and even providing suggestions for the Prime Minister's Independence Day speech, MyGov is not just a website, but an embodiment of the Prime Minister's belief that true nation building is possible only when its citizens are equal collaborators and contributors to national policymaking.

Apart from thoughtful discussions on key strategies and schemes of the government, MyGov also encourages the citizens to be part of the administration in creative, educational and fun ways. New activities that include both online and on-ground tasks are introduced regularly. A prominent new initiative on MyGov is the New India Championship that invites peoples' participation through quizzes, contests like slogan writing, story-telling, logo design etc., sharing photos and videos etc. As registered users of the MyGov portal participate and contribute, they stand to earn points which continue increasing on the leader board with every new submission. Top performers hold the opportunity to receive certificates signed by the Prime Minister and even stand a chance to get special invitation to MyGov's events.

As part of this initiative of inspiring citizen engagement and to mark three years of its success, MyGov has launched this unique two-month programme, the 'New India Championship' with the aim to allow people from across the country to demonstrate their vision and join in the process of building a New India. The championship, which is open to all citizens of India, Non-Resident Indians and overseas Indians, will see participants undertaking different tasks that are aligned to the national goals and campaigns of the government such as Swachh Bharat Mission, International Yoga Day, Shramev Jayate, Incredible India, Skill India, Digital India etc. For instance, following the Prime Minister's suggestion in the May 2017 episode of Mann Ki Baat, MyGov invited people to share a picture with three generations of their family members practising yoga with the hashtag #3GenYoga. The objective was to mark the third International Yoga Day by showing that the benefits of yoga extends to all age groups. Then there's 'What is your idea of New India?' activity where participants are encouraged to share pictures or videos of their own personal idea of New India. In line with the Skill India campaign, #MySummerHoliday activity motivates young students to learn a new skill, adopt a new hobby or visit a new place during their summer holidays and share their learning experiences.

Such initiatives that are allow direct citizen participation in governance are wholly new to India. By stimulating conversations and spurring activities on policy formulation and program implementation, the distance between the public and the government has been bridged. Thanks to technology, the benefits of which were recognised and adopted very early on by the Prime Minister, citizen engagement has become more powerful than ever, which is evident from the positive outcome of ventures like MyGov. While lakhs of citizens have already adopted the platform, more should come forward to do the same because as a member of a democratic nation, their duty doesn't end after casting their vote. Rather it is just the first step in exercising their fundamental right. Constant dialogue and exchange of ideas and knowledge not only keeps the public more aware but also plays a crucial role in helping the government be more effective, accountable and transparent. The government has provided the citizens of India with an opportunity to become decision makers for the country. Let us all make full use of this opportunityto build a New India.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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governance Blockchain Technologies opinion mygov platform

Gaurav Dwivedi

The author is CEO, MyGov, a citizen engagement initiative of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology

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