Digital India Needs Some Serious Catching Up

by January 25, 2017 0 comments

Going paperless in government to citizen services is the norm everywhere in the world and India has taken enough strides over the last 15 years to show its intentions. Not only does going digital makes the whole process transparent but is also meant to speed up service delivery to the common man. So, no matter how elementary the service requirement it does not come as a surprise when you find even your neighbourhood local government office going digital in offering services. It was with this belief that I began one such digital journey for obtaining a certificate from the local SDM office in my neighbourhood. The Government of Delhi launched an eDistrict portal more than a year back encouraging citizens to apply for basic services, which in the past required a visit to the local SDM office and some greasy palms.

The journey begins by creating an account on the portal alongwith relevant document uploads. Now once you open up an application form to apply for a service, the promise of digital nirvana ends and the ordeal begins. After filling up all the text boxes, you are informed about the requirement to upload a certain type of document, an affidavit in my case. You cannot proceed further unless you have a scan of that document ready with you. And BTW there’s no provision to save the work already done. So there you go, to get the document prepared from a Notary. When you come back and repeat the previous process, you are enlightened with the need to limit the scan size of any document to 100 KB. So there you go again, try grayscale, a scan with barely legible words, whatever. But the bigger challenge is that the 100 KB restriction applies even when there are two pages to upload. And BTW those two pages have to be combined to make one file. You can’t upload two separate two. If you are able to get through all this, you still need to take the printout of the acknowledgement and get your documents verified at the office but go there only if you’ve not missed a bit anywhere during the upload process. In case you did, there’s no offline support at hand. Go back and do not come back till you have sorted all pieces!

Seeing no immediate respite, I requested to submit an application in paper. ‘Sorry sir, you can’t do it unless your online application is first rejected,’ pat came the reply. And no the clerk sitting at the window does not have the power to do so. So, bide your time till you receive a message announcing the rejection of your application. Once you do, you have two options: either apply online again or go there and apply on paper with all supporting docs in place. I followed the latter and am relieved, as at least it works in India much better! Here’s raising a toast for Digital India of the future!

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