Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More government processes coming online – Some government initiatives, civil society failed to appreciate while criticising it for everything?

In a recent Malayalam movie - Indian Rupee - protagonist, working as a clerk in Secretariat, want to get sanction for his relative's factory project. According to the advice of a veteran official he bought a huge number of small presentation covers. Later they will divide five lakh rupees, given by his relative, to small chunks - ranging from some hundreds to thousands of rupees – to bribe officials from peon to department heads.

They paid some for searching the file, another for bringing the file to first desk, then for moving the papers from there to the next one. Still another for approving it and passing the file to next desk so on and so forth. While filling money in covers, his colleague said that, he knew three-four people who started with selling covers in front of secretariat and later became big business man.

Moving files from desk to desk

There is no doubt that, this is a highly exaggerated version (or at least I wish so) of actual process. Still, in practice common man is forced to pay for moving files from one table to another.

People often find themselves clueless about the progress of their application and spent days, if not weeks, just to know the status.

Same case in Police station as well. The process of creating an FIR is simple. But tracking it, to know which acts are applicable in your case, what are the specific charges against your opponent, what exactly the law says, when it will be up for hearing etc are some important things an accuser/ defender needs to know. If everything is on paper files, you have to depend on the mercy of government officials (/the weight of your pocket) sitting behind the desks, (or agents) to know the status. Even then, it is possible that, you may be quiet clueless about what is going on.

It is in this situation, we have to appreciate the process started by Orissa and Kerala governments (and many other state governments and central governments as well) for opting electronic way for day to day administrative processes. This will not only make the whole set up more transparent but also simpler and easier.


According to a BS report, "Files in all government departments in Odisha are expected to be processed faster as all transactions within a department would be done electronically by the end of this month [September], cutting down on cumbersome paper work...all 39 administrative departments to switch over to e-filing by September 30"

"...departments must take steps to introduce e-despatch at the level of the directorate and district/division level offices so that most letters received would be through e-despatch mode which can be integrated with OSWAS (Odisha Secretariat Workflow Automation System) easily" - Chief Secretary, Government of Orissa

"..new files will now be processed as e-files only...rural development department has been able to bring 30,000 files (involving over 700,000 pages of notes and correspondences) on the OSWAS platform...IT department is now working on bringing out a web-based version of OSWAS for implementation"


"...'Know Your FIR online', helps a person to know the status of First Information Report (FIR) online or complaints at police stations by logging into the official website of Kerala Police."

"...any one of the information such as FIR number or name of the petitioner or date of registration of the FIR has to be given to access the details...status of the case, including the acts and sections involved, contact details of the investigating officer, name of the filing court, and case details, etc are available online."


Hope that new government initiatives like this, will not only cut the cost for common man, but also bring transparency to the process as well. There may not be any more millionaires simply by selling covers in front of secretariat.


PS: Around four and half years back, I and my friend approached a lawyer to clarify one doubt. I don’t remember whether he heard the question first and then told his fees or vice versa. What I remember is, it was a one line question and the answer was supposed to be either yes or no – no explanation was required. This entire incident happened in a roadside. I agree that he has to apply his professional knowledge to reach an answer, but I still doubt whether 200 INR was a justifiable amount for that.

We simply walked away from him, and went straight to another lawyer. Who replied ‘yes’ but didn’t ask /declined the fees (I don’t remember whether he didn’t ask or declined but either of this happened). Today, if such a question come, we can simply open respective section from the /post the question in a legal forum/ just check FAQs in government sites. Kudos to government for bringing all the acts, cases etc online and presenting it in a searchable format.


1. Kerala Police
2. Government of Odisha – IT department
3. Kerala Police introduces FIR tracking e-way – BS
4. Electronic transfer of govt files in state from Oct 1 - BS
5  Tata Consultancy Services

Photo Courtesy: Kerala Police, State IT Department - Odisha


  1. Changes are happening in UP as well,

    'Nivesh Mitra, the single-widow online clearances system of the Uttar Pradesh government, has taken wings. In the past one year, almost 40,000 entities have registered with the web-based platform.

    According to a senior government official, it has resulted in considerably reducing the number of applications pending beyond fixed timelines.'

    - Business Standard - http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/web-based-industry-clearance-system-takes-wings-in-up/491182/