eSwaraj

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eSwaraj

New Delhi, IndiaBangalore, India
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Our platform will use mobile and internet technology to address lack of accountability in local governance in India. Our platform aims to highlight departmental faults, trends of public dissatisfaction and facilitate real-time resolutions to local-governance issue.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if elected representatives could be reached out to for issue resolution by the click of a button and their performance measured in deterministic manner.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Lack of accountability in local governance is a country wide problem in India, which make issue resolution at local level chaotic for the electorate. Reason for this problem is multi-fold: 1) Lack of strong yet convenient feedback mechanism 2) Lack of organized information with electorate 3) Lack of quantifiable data to show trend of dissatisfaction There is no way to easily report local issues or to quantify a candidate's performance.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

eSwaraj aims to use mesh of mobile and web technologies to create an intelligent system which will facilitate real time reporting of local issues, automatically mapping the complaint to submitter's constituency and publishing the complaint into public domain. We aim to use this collated data to show long time trends and analytic of government's performance and impact. We also aim to set up an interface which'll act as a bridge between elected representatives and electorate and lead to faster issue resolution. The whole system will be synced with popular social media to increase coverage and participation. All this made available for free through mobile internet which has huge penetration in urban India.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Let us say that I am not getting supply of water to my house. I just need 4 taps on the mobile app to report this issue to the elected representative. In the back-end, we have divided each city in a 100 meter by 100 meter grid. The application is smart enough to pick the coordinates from where the complaint is raised and intelligently map it to the nearest point of the grid. These points are, in turn, mapped to a particular constituency and the currently elected candidate for that constituency. Making the feedback system simpler results in more participation and availability of such inputs enables the elected representative to be more effective in his/her work. Over time, this data can be used to judge the performance of the representative.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The scope of impact is huge. Billions of rupees are wasted every year due to bad infrastructure. For example - in Delhi alone, fuel worth 994 crores is wasted every year due to bad roads in monsoon. But the lack of a convenient feedback mechanism leads to these issues not getting reported and hence the elected representatives get away with not fixing them. As our platform depends on the smartphone and internet penetration, we are initially focusing on metro cities and then, we will go to tier-2 and tier-3 town, and then finally to villages. India has a total of about 800 million people using mobile phones, and more and more people switching to smart-phones as these phones are getting cheaper. Smart-phones are growing with more than 200% growth rate. We provide a simple UI to ensure user engagement. As more complaints are raised, the representatives will be forced to fix the problem.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Swaraj means self-governance in Hindi. That is the model we are trying to promote. The people of an area should be in control of where public money is spent and for that we need to collect feedback on what problems the people are facing. There is a move to make a Swaraj law in one of the states in India. With a platform like this, tailor made to help in execution of Swaraj, the impact can be made quickly and if successful then other states will implement the same law too.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

CSR: India mandates that 2% of all profits by corporations should go towards social development activities. The budget for CSR in India is $1bn. We are creating partnerships with major MNCs in India which will fund our initiative. Donations: We will also accept donations from Individuals and NGOs We are in partnership with a major MNC which is providing us infrastructure to host our website and app, storage space and computing resources.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There's a similar project in UK - Fix My Street (fixmystreet.com) - they are a forum where users can post images of broken streets, pipes etc so local authorities can take action. Our project goes several steps further: 1. It addresses multiple issues and it's scope can be increased further. 2. It uses technology in an innovative manner to ensure ease of use thereby increasing participation. 3. It solves the problem in Indian context where computer and land line internet are much less prevalent than mobile internet. 4. It provides statistics to judge the performance of the representative
Team

Founding Story

Some of the newer political parties in India are focusing on resolving local issues through public meetings. People would attend these meetings once a month and let the problems be known to the representative. While this is a great way to ensure that voices of the people are heard in matters of public expenditure, the huge population in India poses a major challenge in organizing these meetings. Also, if I have water problem today, I don't want to wait a month for the next meeting to report it. With the introduction of this new model, we realized the need to develop a platform which would make this whole process easier to manage and more convenient.

Team

Rakesh: He worked with various political parties to understand what problems they face in governance and what kind of technology solutions might help them. He works on defining the product. Also works on our partnerships with elected representatives Vaibhav: Works on Marketing and Publicity. Is responsible for Corporate partnerships and getting necessary funding. Ravi: He is the Backend Design Lead Pradeep: He is the Frontend Design Lead
About You
Organization:
eSwaraj
About You
First Name

Vaibhav

Last Name

Sinha

LinkedIn URL
About Your Organization
Organization Name

eSwaraj

Organization Country

, KA, Bangalore

Country where this project is creating social impact

, DL, New Delhi

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Impact
Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

1. With the immediate feedback and more citizen participation, elected representatives would be made more accountable and hence the state of civic amenities is bound to improve. This would start from cities and later spread to villages.
2. Analytics branch of project eWwaraj will churn localized data highlighting trends of issues on several variables. This would make it possible to classify the problem as infrastructure, distribution, pricing, etc, making it attractive to government representatives.
3. Statistics would be used by social science students and platform will be used by NGOs.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

One risk is that people don't adopt this solution readily due to general apathy. But due to current political atmosphere of the nation we are confident that there are many potential users waiting to get their hands on a tool exactly like eSwaraj. We will start introducing our app to social-science colleges as projects, to local leaders of political groups and to NGOs which are already working on the ground. Now all these immediate users will have technology to help them achieve their goals. Once we get critical mass of users, the network effect will ensure further adoption from that point on.

Sustainability
Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

Approximately 75 words left (450 characters).

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Create an environment where people give feedback freely.

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

Generally people face a lot of problems due to bad state of civic amenities in India. But a convenient grievance reporting platform does not exist. Hence, unless under extreme hardship, people do not report grievances, since it would involve visiting/calling the elected representative. Our project tries to bridge this gap between common man and the elected representative by giving him a tool that would report his problem to the representative easily through his phone. Since everyone can see all the complaints, people would be encouraged to participate when they see others participating.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?

English.

2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?

We are trying to get the people of each political constituency to report problems in the state of civic amenities provided by government. We bring this information to the knowledge of elected leaders, administrative staff and media. Having the data enables everyone to work better and also introduces accountability in the system thereby helping improve the services provided by government agencies.

What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

Improve quality of programs

If other, please specify
What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)

Phone or voice, Website.

If other, please specify
Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?

The user gets a free Android and iPhone app using which the problems can be reported. These are collated together and high level statistics about the state of civic amenities in a constituency are generated.

What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?

Secured protection on information

If other, please specify
What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

Other

If other, please specify

Improvement in services they receive from government

How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

Specific targeted outreach efforts

If other, please specify
What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?

Pressure through media outlets

If other, please specify
How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

Reports on collected information

If other, please specify
How is feedback published/transparent?

On a website

If other, please specify
Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.

1. There were a lot of open potholes in Delhi which lead to accidents and inconvenience to people. A NGO led effort made people to report these problems and a municipality report was created and sent to the authorities. The authorities responded by fixing the problem and the same was verified.

2. The anti-graft bill passed in the Indian Parliament has taken a lot of input from general public through a web portal. This is because common men face corruption at low level and understand what checks need to be placed so that government officials cannot pester the people by blocking their work.

If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?

Instill more hope in the minds of the citizen that the problems with Indian administration can be fixed by citizen participation. Lack of hope leads to apathy towards any initiatives in this direction because of which they have lesser impact.

What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

Lack of incentives for people to provide feedback

If other, please specify
Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?
What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?
What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?

Comments

Ankur Asthana's picture

Really like this project a lot - think there is huge potential and hopeful this will take off!

Jack Smith's picture

Hi well written, this could bring lot of easy access to citizens. Good stuffs.

J Thomson's picture

Good project. I like it.

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