Exploring Conditions for Delivery of Successful M-Government Services to the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) in India

  • Bhatnagar S
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Abstract

Considering the inadequate coverage of rural citizens by existing e-government projects, the rapid growth of mobile usage in rural India and the demonstrated success of a few projects that deliver information and transactional services through mobile phones, the paper argues for an expanded role of mobiles in e-delivery of government services. The paper explores conditions that can promote the use of mobile phones for successful delivery of government services to those at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) in India.Examples of some existing m-Government applications that push down information to a community of users; involve a two-way interaction between a government agency and users; or use mobile phones for transactional services such as data capturing by field staff for collection of health statistics, reporting activity levels, and conducting surveys are provided.The paper presents a detailed case study of a best of breed m-Government project. The project is advancing financial inclusion by enabling banks to open accounts for rural pensioners and helping government disburse monthly social pensions in villages in an efficient, convenient, transparent manner without bribery or fraud that existed in earlier manual systems. The central piece of the electronic bank branch operated by a matriculate self-help group member is a special mobile phone, a biometric identifier and a strip printer. The project has achieved a significant scale, serving 1.6 million pensioners in a short period. Besides providing convenience to poor pensioners the application can eliminate payments to non-existent pensioners. Since the benefits to various stakeholders clearly outweigh the costs, such a project should be scaled up to cover the whole of India. Some suggestions on how the project can be scaled up are discussed.With the launch of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) in 2004 and the opening up of the telecom sector to private players, Internet Kiosks and mobile phones are beginning to reach large sections of rural populations. NeGP has supported the creation of hundred thousand Internet Kiosks in rural areas through public-private partnerships which will be used to deliver different types of government services. The expansion of mobiles in rural areas which has happened largely through competition amongst mobile service providers offers the possibility of an additional channel to deliver services.

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Authors

  • Subhash Chandra Bhatnagar

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