Let’s Build People’s Participation For a Resilient Republic

Indian National Flag Unfurled at CSM Tech Campus
Indian National Flag Unfurled at CSM Tech Campus

January 26 is a momentous day for us, steeped in history and transition. On this day, we enforced our Constitution and transitioned to a Republic in 1950. For every Indian, this isn’t just another day, but a sentiment embodying national pride and a spirit aligning a heterogeneous nation to a homogenous vision. India’s 74th Republic Day in 2023 is even more engaging as it celebrates the theme of Jan Bhagidari or participative democracy.

Looking back on the yesterday that has cemented our today, I can say that the essence of this Jan Bhagidari is rooted in the Constitution of India itself. The Constitution was drafted by collective efforts after copious debate and consultation. The Constitution forged a common national identity and laid the foundations for a fair and egalitarian society. The Indian Constitution emphasizes the importance of the participation of the people in the governance of the country. The Preamble of the Constitution says the people have resolved to make India a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic. India’s people are the ultimate sovereigns, and their participation in government is essential for a democratic republic to function.

Over the last seven decades, Indian citizens have been shaping their democracy through political participation, social activism, and other means. Participatory democracy can catalyze a nation’s empowerment. But people’s democracy is no longer limited to meeting an electoral mandate. Participative democracy has changed gears from reactive to proactive. The Indian government’s call of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas, Sabka Vishwaas and Sabka Prayas’ underscores the importance of citizen contribution to nation-building.

Today, governments engage more with citizens on digital platforms. To my mind, technology is an enabler cum disruptor in this transformation where citizen experience has gone many notches higher. To cite an example, Taiwan has invested heavily in a tech-enabled civic culture marked by bottom-up information sharing, public-private partnerships and participatory collective action.

As a tech entrepreneur for 25 years, I have experienced the prowess of technology in empowering people. When I floated CSM Tech, I wasn’t lured by the enterprise business that promised quick bucks during the dotcom boom. I sensed a bigger potential in GovTech, a goldmine of opportunities waiting to be tapped. Back then, the appetite for IT adoption in government was immense and there were opportunities galore in digitizing governance. Technology had in it to change the contours of citizen service delivery by making them participants in change management. My hindsight wisdom attests to the role of technology in building a scalable and sustainable governance story. GovTech is a bankable ally to shore up participatory democracy.

And the fulfilment it has brought to our business and cohorts outweighs the gratification of any big-ticket business deal. Touching and elevating over a million lives brings in an incomparable stickiness in spirits.

In building the digital backbone for projects, we have helped build the coveted government-citizen synergy. Technology can be instrumental in transforming the beneficiaries from passive subjects in governance to active participants in policymaking. Many of CSM Tech’s solutions are flag bearers of this transformation. Mo Sarkar (or My Government) in Odisha is one such watershed reform in participatory governance that we have implemented. It empowers citizens to have a direct dialogue with the authorities and share their feedback on services availed at different public institutions. It has injected behavioural change in the response of officers dealing with the citizens. Technology has smoothened the process of collecting citizen feedback and incorporating them to enhance governance outcomes.

The success of tech-enabled solutions like Mo Sarkar testifies to the growing strength of Jan Bhagidari or participative democracy. When India still grapples with many socio-economic problems, looping in citizen participation is a must to create impactful solutions. On this 74th Republic, let’s vow to strengthen people’s participation for a resurgent nation and a resilient Republic.



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