Duare Sarkar (Government at Doorstep) is an ambitious administrative innovation, to reach crucial public service benefits under twelve existing schemes and more, to all, including senior citizens, persons with disabilities, transgenders, commercial sex workers, prison inmates, the poor and the marginalized who had not hitherto accessed government services.
These benefits which include health insurance, pensions, scholarships, assured income for farmers etc. are being accessed in more than 25,000 community level outreach camps. During the first fifty days, services have been delivered to over 13 million citizens.
A huge database has been created during registration of these citizens, generating evidence and ideas for improved planning, towards equitable and sustainable development for the state. The backbone of the campaign has been an integrated MIS portal where an array of ICT technologies are seamlessly integrated making achievements of such magnitude possible.
Subsequently, Paray Samadhan, an initiative to address community-level demands of infrastructure, human resource and supply was launched based on the feedback from citizens accessing DS camps. This new initiative has been built on the DS ICT system, confirming its robustness.
DS – with its community level outreach plan for doorstep service delivery and ICT module for reporting and monitoring can be reproduced with ease at any other location- regional, national or global. The administrative set-up devised, right from collection of applications to delivery of scheme benefits can be easily replicated. The decentralised model of camps can in turn be easily scaled-up to cover larger populations.
The Portal can be adopted and adapted at the national, provincial or local level, as the digital eco-system designed for the programme provides end-to-end solutions developed in configurable architecture. In India, there is a Local Government Directory (LGD) of land regions - rural and urban local government. We have adopted the LGD to ensure nationally acceptable naming conventions and codifications. Database level configurability of beneficiary schemes has been adopted to facilitate inclusion of state specific beneficiary schemes in DS portal.
The DS portal is scalable due to its ability to accommodate: (a) large number of concurrent users – an average of over 2000 transactions/minute (b) increasing workload on DB and App Server without affecting its performance. The portal has been designed to allow flexibility to scale up horizontally or vertically based on specific needs and requirements of various stakeholders with different needs. The entire IT system of the Paray Samadhan initiative has been added to the DS portal.
Inspired by the success of the DS portal, other provincial governments in India have already expressed their interest in adopting a similar model.
The DS initiative is not a scheme. Rather, it is a strategy employed by the government to improve delivery of existing benefits to citizens by bringing the administration physically closer to the intended service recipients. Instead of relying on the old “supply driven” government service delivery model, the DS strategy was to generate demand of services by sharing information about the schemes and the eligibility criteria, and then set up outreach camps where the members of the public could easily access the government machinery, suitably oriented and prepared to render assistance in their enrolment.
The local administration was empowered to deploy infrastructure, human resources and assets including computers etc. for the purposes of these camps. In-House software development, testing, operationalization and troubleshooting took place under the technical guidance of the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
This people centric intervention touching all crucial aspects of an individual’s life such as food security, health, education, social safety nets and livelihoods, apart from its underlying emphasis on gender inclusivity and social empowerment, would sustain the individual throughout the extended period of their lives, and presumably over generations.
Through decentralised planning, outreach camps have been organised at the community level to ensure ease of service delivery leading to convenience, accessibility and wide participation of people. Provision for extensive stakeholder consultation and mid-course correction through collection of feedback, on-site surveys using institutionalized as well as informal channels saw that this intervention is successfully tailored to the requirements of both service recipients and service providers. This strong service provider-recipient interface along with high levels of ‘Community involvement across various socio-economic strata’ justifies its presence and continuity as a good governance success story and a successful sustainable model for eliciting community participation in governance.
Thus, benchmarks of DS - community centric, demand driven, flexible, evolving and economy of scale implementation in terms of human resource deployment and financial support - are also decisive factors for further sustainability of the intervention. While popular demand for the services and voluntary participation of the populace ensures community participation, less or no additional resource involvement guarantees service continuity and sustainability.
The DS portal designed using the standard web technologies and strong encryption algorithms has enabled the capturing of a whopping volume of data emanating out of the overwhelming footfall of people at the camps. The seamless flow of information through the well thought of architectural model of the portal has facilitated faster response time and better delivery of services to the people in record time. Multiple channels of communication were put in place to allow real time flow of information to the service recipients, thereby, enabling better crowd management. The user friendly design of the portal led to a higher degree of confidence for its users at all hierarchical levels. DS in turn is not a stand alone ICT intervention, but one having a ripple effect on other departmental portals as well, by improvising their response in turn.
Direct delivery of scheme benefits were made possible through the delivery mechanism, clearly visible from the data recorded in the DS portal. In 50 days, 7.5 million families were covered under the health insurance (Swasthya Sathi cards) for universal health coverage and well-being of people across all socioeconomic strata. Caste certificates were issued to 1.12 million people empowering their access to public educational institutions and employment opportunities in the public sector, thereby reducing disparities in education, and promoting economic inclusion irrespective of sex, caste and religion. Digital ration cards were issued to 1 million people under the Khadya Sathi Scheme with the aim of eradicating hunger and resultant undernutrition and mortalities. Over 70 thousand people from different strata of population like senior citizens, the differently-abled, widows etc. were brought under social safety nets through different pension benefit schemes like Jai Johar / Taposili Bandhu/ Manabik. Educational scholarships were granted to more than 4 lakh girl students and students belonging to marginalised and minority communities under Kanyashree/ Sikshashree/Aikyashree schemes in the direction of achieving universal education for all and eliminate gender disparity for sustainable and equitable growth and development. 61 thousand young girls were provided with one time financial grant under the Rupashree scheme to eliminate the social evils of dowry and gender based violence.
The real time capture of this enormous database in turn helps in documentation of good success stories and gather strong evidence and ideas for larger replicability towards equitable and sustainable development.
AI supported in-built data analytics tools of DS portal has also successfully facilitated prompt and realistic planning of camps even in the remotest corner of the state so as to reach out to the most marginalized and left out strata.
Application forms were adopted in vernacular language for easy comprehensibility of common people. Camp sites were extensively made public through fast paced extensive use of the media and unconventional channels like women Self Help Groups, Kanyashree clubs etc. and all sites were geo tagged with corresponding coordinate details.
Sanitation, physical distancing and compulsory use of masks in adherence to COVID-19 prevention protocol were guided through issuance of the SOP and followed through, while organising the camps.
Based on the feedback received from DS beneficiaries, another programme, Paray Samadhan (PS) was launched as a bottom-up approach to meet neighbourhood infrastructure needs. DS outreach camps, have therefore, created a successful template for empowerment and equality, the base of an equitable and more just society.