Sanitation: First visit to Odisha

Sanitation: First visit to Odisha

Reached Bhubaneswar on Tuesday evening, in good spirits. I was still trying to decide if I should try to meet our funder, to go to one of our pilot sites or just sit at the hotel and prep for the All Hands on Thursday that I had actually come for. (More on the All-Hands is for another time, maybe!). Given that I had come all the way here, I decided to choose the field visit to the ‘Model FSM Town’- Dhenkanal. 

Dhenkanal is a 2-hour bumpy ride from Bhubaneswar. The Highway was under construction 3/4th of the way and the car vibrated all the way to the Municipal Office. Once we reached though, the Municipal Engineer welcomed us with bouquets. I wondered why we were important enough for them to go out of their way with a group of 4 people (basically all the folks working in the sanitation division) to welcome us!

The Anxiety

We sat down, snacks and coffee came in 5 minutes but we only wanted to know about the app.  “Get down to business”, I thought. Swapnil had visited another ULB the day before and said no one had started using it yet. Posters announcing the app launch had been stuck outside the call centre. They looked very freshly stuck but they started falling from the edges within half an hour- not a good sign, I felt. 

The District Coordinator, Priya, said “I’ve done the training, but it’ll be good to hear from you- I have done this only on test instance. I was about to say, it doesn’t really matter but that’s when a customer walked in and gave his request. We asked him if he would want to make an application online- easy we said, just scan the QR code. He didn’t have a QR code scanner – no payment apps! (This could be an anecdotal use case of no QR scanner!) We let him go since he was in a hurry and told the ULB team that we could input his request online right then and there. 

The Municipal Engineer and Sanitation inspectors were not very interested- they weren’t responsible for actually taking the request online. Sulochana- the call centre operator was the only one who needed to learn this at the ULB level. She had a lot of queries and concerns already raised by her to the DC who had also sharedthem with  us. Sulochana had 3 posters within the room but had not opened the FSM module even once on her own on her phone or the desktop. We said let’s do this together on the desktop. At that point they said, why don’t you do this on the big screen in the conference room, that way all of us will see. Another poster fell from one of the edges. 

The impromptu training session

Swachh Saathis also happened to be in the municipality at that time and we were told that they would be distributing the IEC/ app publicity leaflets, why don’t we train them too. They have smartphones, use whatsapp and shopping apps! Somehow, I was now doing user training for 30 people- with no prep! These ladies were waiting for me – the ‘madam’ with a laptop, but I had not prepared for it. (Not that using the app needs a great deal of prep, I had tested it a couple of times and knew the flow but I felt they deserved more respect for their time and presence.) So we got started.

Me: Phone number daaliye, OTP aayega (Enter your phone number, you’ll get the OTP)

One of the Swacch Saathi- Kalyani : ‘OTP toh nai aa raha hai madam’, (OTP is not coming)

Me: Resend daba lijiye- (Press Resend)

They had no clue what ‘Resend’ was. Some people were typing their names instead of phone numbers because they didn’t know english. I realised that Odiya is going to be crucial in the future. (Now, I do realise Swacch Saathis are only going to publicise this app’ but also in the state with <20% urban population, Swacch Saathis are probably representative of a sizable %age of people if not a majority). 

We finally reached the application submission stage and they submitted the application. We showed them how they would get SMSes, how once approved they need to make payments etc and then it was time for them to leave, so they started moving out. The ULB folks or DC didn’t even handover all the leaflets. One lady came to me and said- Woh Ama Sahar toh play -estore mein dikhaate hain nagrik ko, yeh kahan dikhaye.’ (Citizens are able to see the Ama Sahar app on the playstore, where can they find this?) I realised we don’t have the app. (I wasn’t aware that there is no app for SUJOG yet and we probably don’t need one for a once in 3-5 year activity, but again, I thought how am I not prepared enough to know this!) I pointed to the leaflet and said isko type karna hoga, yeh bata dijiye. (They need to type the URL on the leaflet, just tell them that)

(Note that I was using hindi and hoping they were understanding it fully). 

The DC, Priya, came to me and said please show Sulochana also her steps. Again, she clarified, maine dikhaya hai, but ek baar aap bhi kar do. (I have demo’ed already, but you also show the steps once). I realised that we needed better user-training templates and more importantly, assess the capacity built post training. We realise the login is not made for Sulochana, it has the mobile number of the Data entry operator. Got the OTP from him and I changed the password, took her through the process…..showed DSO login- the number given in our database is the the SHG president’s and not the actual DSO who operates the service. Why, I asked. Pata nai, humne nai diya hai, (Don’t know, we didn’t give the number) said Sulochana. 

Finally we said okay, now you have to start taking requests- whenever a citizen comes to the Municipality, you open the FSM module and enter there directly, not the register. 

Sulochana said main toh kar lungi, but FSTP mein toh network nai aata, Suresh (the operator) kaise karega. Fir uska login bhi main hi le lun kya? (Sulochana said she’ll do it, but FSTP a very weak network, how will Suresh, the FSTPO do it? Should she take his login and do it?)

(Btw, Sulochana, DSO and Suresh are 1 team from the same SHG! So where and why will a cross verification happen within these players, I’m not sure?) We decided to go to the FSTP as well to meet Suresh.

As we headed for lunch before going to the FSTP, it struck me how on the next day, we would sit in a fancy resort with our funder and other teams to discuss the fate of missions and programs in a place ( with bad phone network and such bad roads) so far removed from our realities! (This is not a new revelation, just the irony was more evident somehow)

Are we capable of building for Bharat? Are we doing them justice? Are we truly building with the local communities? (No, I don’t think the E&Y DC is the local partner, she was smart and quite capable, but she didn’t represent our average user or their profiles). 

The true learning in this training session was for me, the trainer, not the trainees.

But there’s hope!

The second half, however, gave me so much optimism! Well, network is definitely a problem. But the SHG president and the operator were so good at their job! And so proud of the work they do that makes people come all the way from Bangalore to meet them. We went around the plant and Suresh mentioned again that he’s quite comfortable with the app, except ‘yahan toh baat karne ka bhi network nai aata’ (The network is not good enough to even talk on the phone) We wondered if its possible to fill it offline and sync once he goes online… We spoke to Sulochana and Suresh about not being afraid of using the app. It’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s important to use. They will be the flag bearers of the success of this pilot and the mission! (Ofcourse, passing these messages through their EOs/ Commissioner and the state machinery is going to make the use happen, not us 1 time visitors!)

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Aveek De

Mission Leader – Sanitation

Aveek is passionate about sustainable transformation in the social impact space. He has held leadership roles at the intersection of solving complex societal challenges and technology. He has successfully led large-scale transformational programs in education in rural India and Africa, ecosystem development for small and medium entrepreneurs, natural resource management, and groundwater management by influencing governments and communities.
Before he transitioned to the development sector, he spent 15 years in the corporate sector with DEC, Bharti, Gallup, and IBM in sales and marketing, strategic consulting, and business operations. He enjoys setting up green field operations and was instrumental in opening opportunities in the Middle East and West Africa.
He has a BTech in Electronics Engineering from UVCE, Bangalore, and an MBA from the Asian Institute of Management, Manila. He is a Salzburg Global Fellow.

Viraj Tyagi

CEO

Viraj Tyagi is the CEO of eGov Foundation. He is passionate about the impact of a jugalbandi of Digital Public Goods, policies, and ecosystems in solving complex societal problems at scale and speed. Before joining the impact sector, Viraj was an entrepreneur and corporate leader with wide-ranging experience in building large businesses in Europe and India. He is a serial entrepreneur, an active investor in start-ups, and a mentor to entrepreneurs. Viraj was the CEO and co-founder of NettPositive – one of the first Big Data and Analytics companies in India. He is also a co-founder of the fintech start-up – Finnable. He is on the board of several start-ups and companies. He is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore (IIM-B) and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT – BHU).

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“Digitisation of Andhra Pradesh through eGov’s platform has really benefited govt employees by saving almost 19hrs of their time every week. Earlier the citizens used to run around to access municipal services. Today the ULB officers run around to deliver services to the citizens”

-Shri Kanna Babu, Ex. Director, CDMA

Ministry Of Defence

Till date we have seen that citizen services are made online either in a single ULB or at district, or state level. This is a beginning where multiple citizen services are simplified, standardised and launched at once pan-country across all 62 Cantonment Boards and eGov Foundation, BEL, NIC, DGDE and MoD teams have played a major role in the speedy implementation of this initiative. I congratulate all of them.

Shri Ajay Kumar, Defense Secretary, Government of India

Ministry Of Defence

Till date we have seen that citizen services are made online either in a single ULB or at district, or state level. This is a beginning where multiple citizen services are simplified, standardised and launched at once pan-country across all 62 Cantonment Boards and eGov Foundation, BEL, NIC, DGDE and MoD teams have played a major role in the speedy implementation of this initiative. I congratulate all of them.

Shri Ajay Kumar, Defense Secretary, Government of India

Till date we have seen that citizen services are made online either in a single ULB or at district, or state level. This is a beginning where multiple citizen services are simplified, standardised and launched at once pan-country across all 62 Cantonment Boards and eGov Foundation, BEL, NIC, DGDE and MoD teams have played a major role in the speedy implementation of this initiative. I congratulate all of them.

Shri Ajay Kumar, Defense Secretary, Government of India

eChhawani is an effort towards offering multiple citizen services in a simple and straightforward manner to citizens across all Cantonment Boards and is the result of efforts of eGov Foundation, BEL, NIC and 62 Cantt Board Administrators supervised by DGDE and MoD. It is a new start and a digital milestone for 62 Cantonment Boards across the country.

Smt Deepa Bajwa, Director General, DGDE

eChhawani is an effort towards offering multiple citizen services in a simple and straightforward manner to citizens across all Cantonment Boards and is the result of efforts of eGov Foundation, BEL, NIC and 62 Cantt Board Administrators supervised by DGDE and MoD. It is a new start and a digital milestone for 62 Cantonment Boards across the country.

Smt Deepa Bajwa, Director General, DGDE

eChhawani is inaugurated today with 8 municipal services and I’m confident that this will continue to enhance citizen centric services for residents of our Cantonment Boards. This is a great step towards ‘good governance’ and is a shining example of India’s emergence as a leader in various sectors offering ease of doing business and ease of living for citizens. I congratulate all stakeholders involved in this initiative and I expect that officers will continue to take feedback from the citizens on whether this initiative is fulfilling the aim of citizen centric governance.

Shri Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister, Government of India

During mSeva WhatsApp Launch- Public grievance redressal in a time bound manner is of paramount importance for the Govt of Punjab. As a part of the “Digital Citizen Services First” approach, we digitized citizen-centric municipal services since 2018 and more than 8 modules can be accessed via web portal and mobile app. Extending the services , we now aim at the resolution of civic complaints with the widely used messaging platform, WhatsApp. Driving a paradigm shift from clicks to personalized seamless conversations will result in improved citizen experience and foster belongingness among citizens with speedy resolution of issues

Shri Ajoy Sharma, CEO, PMIDC

The success of this initiative is driven by how the citizens of the state are enabled to access the services of the Planning Authorities anytime, anywhere. These services will also have a direct impact on the Ease of Doing Business ranking for the state which has been one of our priority focus areas. We believe that DIGIT open platform will be a key enabler in the areas of online building permission system and help Planning Authorities to create a citizen-centric urban governance

Shri.A.Namassivayam, Hon’ble Minister for Town Planning, Govt of Puducherry

Chandar Muthukrishnan

Chief Operating Officer

Chandar has 25 years of experience in enterprise software application management across manufacturing, telecom and media domains. He has experience working in both start-up and mature environments and has taken a start-up team to a medium-sized enterprise of 2000 people. Chandar has played key roles in Business Enablement, Program management, Product Engineering, Consulting, Account Management, and Process Engineering. Before joining eGov, he was Senior Vice President of Client Solutions & Business Enablement at Prime Focus Technologies Limited. Before that, he had worked with Wipro for 10 years, where he worked in various roles in software delivery. He is an Electrical & Electronics Engineer from the College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University.

Gp. Capt. Sudheer Gattu (Retd)

Vice President – Program Management

Sudheer is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and SPJIMR Mumbai, and a proficient veteran officer having years of corporate leadership experience including a stint as an SBU head at a listed EPC company. At eGov, Sudheer leads the Urban mission and the Program management function. Previously, he provided delivery and operations leadership for a 1500 crore greenfield infrastructure project for the govt of Maharashtra including P&L management of a business (800+ team) with 300 crore in annual revenue. Before joining the corporate world, he was a key member of the 500 crore R&D programme at DRDO for the development of indigenous light combat helicopters. At the Indian Air Force, he oversaw large-scale aircraft operations & maintenance, and steered production planning, material planning, and aviation safety management.

Elzan Mathew

Director – Engineering

Elzan is the head of software implementation at eGov with 19 years of industry experience handling various state implementations and partner-led deliveries. She has been an integral part of the organisation for the past 15 years where her contribution extends from product management, development, and delivery of the product suits. She is instrumental in the success of eGov’s presence in various locations like Chennai Corporation, New Delhi Municipal Corporation, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and many more.

Jojo Mehra

Vice President – Product

Jojo Mehra leads product management eGov. He is a digital innovation professional with experience in leading product development, business model innovation, and digital strategy. He is passionate about the role that digital technologies and innovation can play in addressing some of the most pressing societal challenges we face. He believes that we have entered a new techno-economic paradigm that is changing our work, our cities, and our societies and that it is incumbent upon us to ensure that this change works for the many and not just a few. He was part of the early team at some of the pioneering digital start-ups like rediff.com and Yoomedia Plc. and also co-founded a shared accommodation platform and an HRtech startup. Jojo holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Loyola College (Chennai, India), a postgraduate degree in Creative and Media Enterprises from the University of Warwick (UK), and recently attended a Master’s programme in Technology Governance and Digital Transformation from the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance at Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia).

Pradipta Kundu

Program Director

Pradipta leads the Health Mission at eGov. A software professional with over 23 years of experience, Pradipta, in the last five years co-founded Samanvay Foundation a nonprofit focussed on technology-heavy lifting; worked on service delivery improvement by the govt hospitals in tribal, underserved areas of eastern Madhya Pradesh; and led an open source software community. A strong supporter of open source technologies, she has led and anchored two popular open-source projects focussed on the social sector. Before that, in her last job at ThoughtWorks, India (a global IT consultancy) she played various roles from managing large software delivery projects to exploring the possibility of IT to improve the health of the underserved working with large and small, international and local NGOs, and governments in multiple countries.

Poornima Muniswamy

Program Director

Poornima has spent most of her career working on projects and programs in management consulting and technology. She thoroughly enjoys conceptualizing, designing, and delivering programmes to solve complex problems.
She has worked on complex transformation programs across multiple countries, connecting the content of business transformation with technology and change management requirements. Over the last few years of her career, she worked on large multi-stream, IT-based organisation transformation programmes.

Manish Srivastava

CTO

Manish has 25 years of experience in creating enterprise-scale software. He has experience working in both start-up and mature environments and has set up two startups from the ground up in Enterprise Customer Experience Management and the other one in Wind Energy Scheduling & Forecasting. Manish has played key roles in Technology and Innovation Management. Before that, he was with Infosys for 17 years, where he worked in various roles as a technology consultant and solution architect with various Global 2000 companies. He is a ‘96 batch, B.Tech. graduate of IIT-BHU. Manish is passionate about technology and deeply vested in the societal good that it can bring. He also mentors a few startups.

Gautham Ravichander

Director – Policy & Advocacy

Gautham leads eGov’s policy initiatives with the Government of India and partner states. He started his career at Janaagraha where he led the Ward Infrastructure Index Program and was a founding team member of The Education Alliance. Gautham has a MIB degree from The Fletcher School at Tufts University where his studies focussed on social enterprises and leveraging business models to reach underserved populations. At Fletcher, Gautham organized and co-chaired the first Tufts Innovation Symposium on Scaling Innovation in Emerging Markets.

Krishnakumar Thyagarajan

VP – Special projects

Krishnakumar is focussed on creating and deploying solutions seeking profound outcomes in urban governance. Effectiveness of Citizen Services and governance. He has 22 years of experience spanning leadership roles in Tech Mahindra where he spearheaded new practises in the company. He began his career as a strategic consultant. He is a Six Sigma Black Belt and holds an MBA from SP Jain University.

Ameya Ashok Naik

Head of Policy & Advocacy

Ameya leads the policy partnerships, advocacy, and monitoring-evaluation-research portfolios at eGov. He started his career as a speechwriter with Dr. Shashi Tharoor in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, followed by stints as a researcher with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the World Peace Foundation, and the International Peace Institute, and most recently worked with the Macroeconomics and Policy Advocacy team at Tata Sons. A psychologist and lawyer by training, Ameya holds MA & LLM degrees from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy; he also serves as a Faculty Fellow with the Takshashila Institution, where he teaches policy analysis.

P.R. Krishnamoorthy

VP – Delivery

As VP of Service Delivery, with a Master’s in Engineering, he leads the Operations and Support Team and manages our major client for the last 9 years with result-based Operational Support. He has extensive experience in driving product/technology strategy in Municipal and Government business environments with strong expertise in Technical consulting, New product commercialisation, Product innovation, Quality systems, and leading-edge Citizen-Centric technologies. He demonstrated strong acumen in spotting emerging Need-of-the-hour technology opportunities and developing niche product capabilities aligned to business plans.

Varun Basu

VP – Growth and Partnerships

Varun has 18+ years of global experience spanning software development, product management, business development, partnerships, and strategy. He has worked in a diverse range of fields from software to spirits to food & beverages. He has significant experience working with early-stage startups and has successfully helped them grow and scale their businesses.

A techie at heart, he started as a developer, and he moved on to Product Management & Sales for a data security startup where he led business development & partnerships. He then went on to manage Diageo’s strategy for emerging markets (LMICs) including Latin America, Africa & South East Asia to focus on the growth of the mainstream spirits category. 

In his last role, he was Global Head of Sales & Product at LitmusWorld, a SaaS Customer Experience platform. Varun holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Calcutta University, a Master’s in Computer Application from Vellore Institute of Technology, and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

Government Of Andhra Pradesh

The AP govt recently rolled out the prestigious Ward Secretariat Program for doorstep delivery of 24 urban services. This was rapidly enabled on the Core Municipal Platform, ensuring easy roll out and consistency of operations.”

Shri GSRKR Vijay Kumar, IAS Commissioner, and Director – Municipal Administration, Andhra Pradesh

Nagpur Municipal Corporation

In 2008, as a part of the comprehensive eGovernance initiative that was meant to provide efficient services to citizens, administrators and corporators by implementing integrated governance solutions, NMC revamped the entire legacy system with eGov’s integrated e-governance system based on open technologies for over 60 functions of the ULB.