Cloud Telephony and IVRS Based Daily Monitoring System:A Revolutionary Approach for Monitoring (DMS)
Mid Day Meal Authority, Uttar Pradesh, India

The Problem

The initiative viz. Daily Monitoring System (DMS) has been devised for data collection on real time basis and for monitoring programme implementation efficiently and effectively on auto-pilot mode. It has been implemented by Mid Day Meal Authority (MDMA) in the State of Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) for effectively monitoring the Government of India assisted Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) covering at present about 1.52 lac schools in U.P. and about 221 lac children enrolled there.

The problem to which the above initiative is a solution lay in the process of traditional and primarily manual system of monitoring government programmes. Though e-governance has progressed a lot, the scenario was largely the same for MDMS also. Information for the number of children availing meals was available district-wise. But when decision making was required on different aspects of the scheme
• It was not possible to segregate the information below district level, and
• The time-lag was a major hurdle, since the periodicity of this information was quarterly or at best monthly.

It is pertinent here to first understand the system of data collection and information flow that was operational before June 2010 in MDMS launched in U.P. in 2004 in government/government-aided and local bodies’ primary schools. In 2007 it was extended to upper primary schools also. For monitoring the scheme through the traditional manual system
• an MDM register was kept at schools in which number of children who availed meals is recorded on daily basis
• This data was supposed to be compiled block-wise in block level register on monthly basis and then in the district level register.
• Inspection and monitoring of the schools was possible on random selection basis only.
• Identification of schools where meal was not cooked was not possible. Thus remedial action was very difficult to be taken for specific schools not serving the meals.

Thus, the situation before the initiative resulted in following major problems in effective and efficient implementation of the MDMS:

• Spatial problem: School-wise report not available at the district/ state level
• Temporal problem: Monitoring of the scheme was possible only on monthly/quarterly basis, not on daily basis. The time-lag in data flow led to following
– Scope for data manipulation
– Chances of excess physical/financial reporting
– Delay in remedial action
– Efficacy of the system jeopardized
– Defaulting schools’ info in next month only
• Monitoring Problem: Physical inspection was based on random selection and not on exception basis.

Analysis of information flow in the traditional method and the problems involved therein was done and a redesign was initiated so that traditional bottlenecks in information flow were done away with. It was found that one major bottleneck due to which meal was not cooked/ served in a school was ignorance about such schools at block/district level and therefore no intervention could be possible for ensuring the service delivery. Non-availability of a systematic mechanism for furnishing of such data on a regular basis was the given gap in the traditional system which needed to be bridged.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The initiative is a unique process innovation with no parallel anywhere in the world. It envisages a systematic data collection on real time basis directly from the grass-root level of programme implementation. An automated MIS and DSS are also built into the system. As implemented for Mid Day Meal Scheme in U.P. the System tracks the number of
• schools that serve/did not serve mid day meal on any particular day,
• Children who had lunch in the school on the prescribed working days.

The system is conceived on the basis of an interface between computer and mobile phone through an out bound dialling solution wherein calls are placed to all the teachers from a virtual number using PRI lines. Everyday, after meal is served to children in almost 1.52 lac government, local bodies' and government-aided primary/ upper-primary schools in the State, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) calls are placed by individual names to the mobile phones of the teacher-in-charge. The teachers, in turn, key-in the number of students who availed mid day meal on that day on their mobiles phones. In case meal could not be served in a school, the teacher has to key-in zero on his mobile. The data so keyed-in is appended in the data-base of the central server and MIS for all the schools of the State is generated by the evening on the website of the system viz. (login: cfo, password: trips)

In the re-engineered process the unit of information is the actual level of implementation in the field rather than any intermediary like block/district or division. Focus is on data ‘pull’ vis-à-vis data ‘push’ methodology wherein user of information controls the info-flow instead of the sender. MIS and DSS built into the system provide objective criteria on which remedial intervention can be made and policy decisions can be taken. It also ensures ICT based social audit since plan to call up/ involve School Management Committee with majority of non-officials is to be rolled-out soon.

The teachers do not have to pay a single penny for giving the data. The MIS that is generated daily helps the district/State authorities in immediately zeroing-in on defaulting schools and take necessary remedial steps. Exception reports generated by the System help in efficient inspections and effective monitoring.

The impact has been measured quantitatively on account of the analytics that are available in the MIS available since the start of the initiative i.e. Jun’10. Further, it has been measured qualitatively on account of the processes described above which mark a paradigm shift in the system of data collection and MIS of huge government programmes and usher in Government Process Re-engineering (GPR). With the re-designed and re-engineered process of info-flow in the MDMS in Uttar Pradesh, value-addition is apparent for the ultimate beneficiaries of the MDMS i.e. the children since the number of such schools where meal was earlier not served is coming down substantially – about 5% in Oct-Nov 2011 vis-à-vis about 30 % in Jun-Jul 2010.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The vision of the initiative was conceived by Mr Sudhanshu Tripathi, an officer of the State Civil Service of Uttar Pradesh and posted as Chief Finance Officer in the Mid Day Meal Authority, U.P. Mr. Tripathi submitted a concept paper way back in 2007 in which he conceived a system of monitoring the implementation of the MDMS on real time basis in terms of regularity at school level situated in far flung rural areas of the State and thereby to have better control over the scheme. The concept paper visualized an SMS based information flow wherein SMS of number of children availing MDM would be sent by all the school teachers daily on a central server and a web portal with a built-in messenger service would record information so received on a database and link it with an MIS for daily reporting.

The concept so visualized by Mr. Tripathi got an impetus in Dec 2009 when Mr Amod Kumar, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service joined MDMA as its Director and the technology of cloud telephony and IVRS was zeroed-in. On account of the problems of language, user-friendliness, cost, modifications etc SMS was not found to be a feasible solution. Above all toll free sms was not possible across all the networks; so the sms based solution was found to be unable to ensure that teachers do not pay out of their pocket for giving the information.

It was in this perspective that the cloud telephony and IVRS was conceived as a viable technological alternative. Literature was looked for any international or national previous experience in this regard. It was found that though IVRS was being used in different sectors for information dissemination, but for large scale data collection and for generating MIS and DSS on account of that, IVRS was not used anywhere in the world. So it was decided to experiment with this system.

The initiative is being very successfully sustained under the leadership of Mr Partha Sarthi Sen Sharma, a senior officer of the Indian Administrative Service who is the present Director of MDMA. On account of his intensive efforts, the system has been working efficiently and monitoring of the implementation of the MDM scheme has become effective, resulting into substantial reduction in number of schools where meals are not served vis-à-vis the earlier scenario.

The other stakeholders of the initiative viz. the Divisional Commissioners, District Magistrates and District Education Officers were taken into confidence before launch of the system by way of a video conferencing with them. They are the ones who are using it regularly on field level for efficiently monitoring the MDMS. Apart from that almost all the teachers unions were consulted before implementation of the system and demonstration of the system was given to them; they wholeheartedly supported the initiative sine the system gave the teachers a tool to directly communicate with the higher echelons in the decision-making without any intermediary level and thus be able to give truthful information immediately.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The main objective of the DMS devised by the MDMA, U.P. is data collection on real time basis and monitoring programme implementation efficiently and effectively. The unit of information is the actual level of implementation in the field rather than any intermediary like block/ district or division. It marks a paradigm shift in the system of data collection and MIS of huge government programmes and activities and thereby monitoring them on auto-pilot mode. The Decision Support System built into the system provides objective criteria on which remedial intervention can be made and policy decisions can be taken.

Since June 2010, the MDMA has implemented the new tool of monitoring in the Mid Day Meal scheme in Uttar Pradesh to track the number of schools that served mid day meal on any particular day. It also tracks the number of children who have had lunch in the school on the prescribed working days.

Strategies used to implement the initiative:-

Optimal utilization of public resources for the welfare of the people aim at improving the functioning of a government organisation by increasing efficiency and effectiveness of processes involved in the service delivery. This, in turn, involves the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of governmental processes to achieve improvements in critical contemporary measures of performance such as cost, quality, service and speed. This kind of Government Process Re-engineering was done for bringing about the desired transformation and positive impact while developing and establishing the initiative. The strategies adopted for this were:

• Wide scale brainstorming and suggestions seeking from all staff and field functionaries,
• Involvement of all the teachers union and incorporation of their feedback/ suggestions,
• Video conferencing with all the District Magistrates and District Education Officers.
• Discussion with few teachers selected from different parts of the State.
• No cost to teachers was a paramount strategy for designing the initiative,
• Use of data ‘pull’ technology vs. data ‘push’ so that the system is able to extract information from the teachers
• Application of SIP model of service delivery (Software as a Service – SaaS, Infrastructure as a Service – IaaS and Platform as a Service – PaaS) so that standardization and updating of technology is not an issue.
• Complete outsourcing of the system with following features
 Complete risk passed on to vendor
 Pay per data instead of pay per call
 No investment for hardware, software, training etc at the client level.
 Training, mobile no. collection, updation, call center, publicity also responsibility of vendor

The initiative was led from the front by Mr Amod Kumar who was instrumental in realizing the vision of monitoring programme implementation on real time basis and in devising the framework of the new system. Mr. Sudhanshu Tripathi remained instrumental from arranging brainstorming sessions for arriving at a viable technological and managerial solution for development of desired system to the development of the Detailed Project Report and afterwards overseeing its development, testing, implementation and design of the MIS.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
In view of the initiative being unique, the key development steps mainly related to the design aspects and can be summed up as under:

• Given the huge number of schools from where data was desired to be captured on daily basis, the first major step was zeroing-in on a suitable and viable technology for the System.
• Secondly and largely attendant to the first was arriving at a solution wherein the sender of data i.e. the teacher in this case need not spend a single penny so that the focus remained on monitoring of the Scheme instead of reimbursing the expenses incurred by the teachers for giving data. This was necessary to ensure meaningful participation of lakhs of teachers in the initiative.
• Also significant in this regard was focus on ‘pull’ rather than ‘push’ method of data capturing so that data is captured from maximum teachers and it was not left to their will to send it on their own.
• Further, this had to be done within the given timeframe after the meals are served and before the school is closed for the day.
• Bridging gaps in traditional monitor system necessitated attention to carefully designing necessary MIS and exception reporting structure and alerts etc.

Key implementation steps were:
• Foremost implementation step was selling the idea to the teachers and making them own it. All the teachers unions were consulted so as to convince the teachers about the benefits of the System by way of demo etc.
• Other such steps were codification of about 1.52 lac schools, trainers-training, preparation, design and printing of about six lac operational manual and its distribution before onsite demo, onsite/ on-line demo/teachers’ training in about 820 blocks and town areas of the State, collection of teachers’ personal phone numbers (as neither phones nor SIM cards have been given by the Government/MDMA to the teachers).
• Development of the data-base and purging it, devising mechanism of call system and call escalation, on-line verification of the mobile numbers of almost 4.5 lac teachers, devising mechanism of updating of database in case of change of teachers’ place of posting or mobile numbers, establishing call-centre for personalized attention to teachers query etc have been other major landmarks.
• It has also been ensured that at the end of the month, the data keyed-in by the teachers is verified in black and white by them.

• Vision document prepared and submitted on Jul 12, 2007,
• Project launched on Mar 31, 2010,
• System developed and tested within two months of the launch date and stabilized within six months.
• System started capturing real time data since June, 2010
• Five regional workshops across the country conducted during Jul-Aug 2011 by GOI for orienting the States/ UTs in view of GOI’s decision to replicate this System for monitoring MDM in the whole country.
• Govt. of U.P. replicated DMS for monitoring nutritional support programme under ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) since Sep 1, 2011.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The major obstacle in developing a fully computersied MIS based on daily data collection from village level was the level of computerization in rural India. Given the fact that computerization in village level schools and other field institutions implementing different welfare programmes of the government, is still not a reality, real time data collection from village level schools by online feeding on computer was just not possible. A SWOT analysis was, therefore, done and it was found that in the past four to five years, coverage of mobile phones has increased very substantially. In almost all the schools of the State, at least one or more teachers were having mobile phones. This was, therefore, an opportunity which could well be used for data collection. Accordingly the system was designed on the basis of an interface of computer and mobile telephony by using the technology of cloud telephony, cloud computing and IVRS.

Initially, an SMS based information flow was conceived in the newest ICT context. However, SMS based solution was not very user-friendly and was chargeable in case it lands on a different network. It was in this perspective that the cloud telephony and IVRS was conceived as a viable technological alternative as discussed before.

Other main obstacles faced during conceiving, designing, developing and implementing the system and how those were overcome can be put as under:

• Dependence of the receiver of the info on the sender - overcome by data 'pull' methodology (vs. data 'push') used in the IVRS based DMS
• Mammoth size of the State of U.P and huge no of schools (1.52 schools) was an obstacle in the sense that covering all such schools by calls during one day was very difficult – overcome by design wherein Outbound Dialing Solution (OBD) using PRI (Primary rate interface) lines was devised to send multiple calls simultaneously and pull the data from the teachers.
• No previous model available – overcome by various brainstorming sessions with stakeholders, techno groups etc regarding design and implementation aspects, a Detailed Project Report was also developed for inviting proposals.
• Implementation of such a system implied traversing unknown territory due to the risks involved – overcome by completely outsourcing the system.
• How to ensure that teachers would own the system! - overcome by way of consulting all the major teachers unions and incorporating their suggestions in the system. Also, a Government Order was issued by the State Govt. making it mandatory for the teachers to give data through the DMS.
• Initial discomfort of the districts with the information received through the DMS was an obstacle in the success of the system since the number of schools not serving meals was relatively high. Sheer prowess of the DMS in giving different useful exception reports and its utility in taking pin pointed corrective measures in problem areas gradually convinced the stakeholders about the beauty and utility of the DMS for effectively monitoring any such programme on daily/ real time basis.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The initiative has been completely outsourced to an IT agency of the Government of Uttar Pradesh. No investment by the client has been made for hardware, software, training etc. Training, mobile no. collection, updation, call center, publicity was also the responsibility of the vendor. The basis of costing is receipt of data irrespective of the numbers of calls made to get that data. For development, implementation and operation of the system for first six months, payment is provisioned at Rs 1.80/ data/ school/ day for 1.52 lac schools. The rate of payment after that is Rs 1.20/ data/ school/ day. Thus the value of the contract for first six months is about Rs. 300.00 lac and about Rs 288.00 lac per year after that depending on the actual number of data received.
As MDMS is a Government of India assisted scheme, the financial resources for the initiative were mobilized out of the management and monitoring funds received from the Govt of India. As regards the human resources, the outsourced agency has technology partners associated with it for professional and technical support. As regards the technical resources, SIP model of service delivery (Software as a Service – SaaS, Infrastructure as a Service – IaaS and Platform as a Service – PaaS) has been used by the vendor.

With the help of the DMS, the gaps apparent in the traditional system of information flow have been bridged and monitoring of the mid day meal scheme did not remain an objective-out-there to be attained; it has, rather, become embedded in the process of data received through the system. The initiative has been helpful in stablising the process wherein the speed and transparency of data have been instrumental in efficient and effective governance and improvement in speed and quality of the service delivery is the resultant outcome. The key benefits of the initiative can be summed up as under:

• Data collection and MIS/ DSS available on real time basis; real time performance evaluation
• Direct & instant info mechanism from grass-root to the State without intermediate levels
• Creation of a media for the apex level to directly reach school functionaries
• Identification of problem areas immediately
• Objective info available for immediate corrective measures/ policy decisions
• Transparency & neatness of data resulting into truthful information
• Data ‘pull’ vis-à-vis data ‘push’ methodology; User of Information controlling the info-flow instead of sender
• Teacher not to spend a single paisa
• Exception report based monitoring vis-à-vis random selection based
• Instant info leading to check on distortion/ fudging of data
• No need for any mobile phones to be given to teachers
• Completely outsourced
• Govt of India can directly monitor without any reports from State Govt.
• ICT based social audit since the plan to call up/ involve School Management Committee with non-official as its head is to be rolled-out soon
• Simple, feasible, scalable
• Easy to replicate for huge government programmes where data requirement is less than or equal to three.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Acceptability of the initiative by the school teachers is the biggest force behind its sustainability. Teachers are a happy lot since they fulfill their responsibility of informing the higher ups through this system in case meal was not cooked – an information which was otherwise likely to be curbed before launch of this system if the number of such schools in a block or district was sufficiently large. The teachers also feel assimilated in the process of governance since their information is directly accessed by the highest levels of the decision makers in the Government.

Sustainability in socio-cultural economic terms is ensured since School Management Committees with majority of non-officials are going to be roped into the System soon, so as to enhance credibility of data and make the MDM scheme more and more community owned.

As regards the financial and institutional sustainability, Government of India has overseen its performance for more than a year now and is convinced of its success. The funds meant for the management and monitoring of the MDMS are sufficient to incur the expenditure of the initiative. Moreover, the Solution is built on revenue generation model; accordingly user charges can be levied, if and when it is so decided, for giving info to public. However, this would depend on the nature of programme and services for which the initiative is being used and accordingly appropriate decision can be taken in this regard.

Replicable Aspect:
The initiative can very well be applied anywhere in the world - nationally or internationally - especially for monitoring huge government/ public welfare programmes/services by way of data collection directly from the grass root level and a customized web based MIS and DSS. Some such examples can be
• Development programmes with one to three parameters
• For info of daily collection of revenue directly from grass root/ village level viz. for Excise, Commercial/Entertainment Tax, Mandis etc
• For daily no. of F.I.Rs, no. of Challans by traffic police, monitoring Health programmes etc
• The initiative can also be successfully used in private sector e.g. for knowing the sales data or for market survey (e.g. sale/ demand of Coke vs. Pepsi) directly from rural retail outlets.

Government of India, Ministry of HRD has decided to replicate this system of daily monitoring of MDM for all states and UTs. National Informatics Centre is developing a roll out plan. A Sub-group has been constituted under chairmanship of Director, Department of IT, Government of India to aid and supervise its development.

Government of U.P. has already replicated it for monitoring Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme in Uttar Pradesh since Sep 1, 2011. The initiative has also been successfully used for monitoring distribution of books under Govt of India programme viz. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in about 1.52 schools in U.P.

Adaptability aspect built into the System. e.g. local language support in IVR through Text to speech along with cloud telephony and cloud computing technology would ensure easy replicability of the initiative.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
UNICEF has done a study of this initiative and has appreciated it. The impact of the initiative has been discussed in detail by UNICEF in the study viz. Process Documentation Report of IVRS Based Daily Monitoring System for Mid-Day Meal Scheme. The initiative has won many accolades, the latest being its short-listing by Government of India for the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Services and for National e-Governance Awards.

The most important element that made the initiative a success is the simplicity of the system and the paradigm shift that it introduced in the system of data collection and of monitoring huge programmes. Other key elements of its success are:

• The process innovation brought about in the system of info-flow through data ‘pull’ methodology. Control of information flow is in the hands of the user of information instead of the sender
• Data-providers do not spend a single penny to deliver the data since they have to only receive the call and respond to it.
• Application of Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) so that the system is completely outsourced, is cost effective and involvement of service provider remains till end.
• Interactivity and ease of use to the users.

As regards the impact of the initiative, the System has helped the teachers give information instantly to the District and upto the State level. The District and State level authorities responsible for monitoring of the Scheme are able to get the real time data and take corrective measures so that meal is cooked in schools where it was not so. The district level authorities have a system in place now which is helping them base their decision on realistic data instead of vague reports. The results achieved and value delivered to the ultimate beneficiary of the initiative i.e. the children are entailed in MIS reports of last one and a half years available on the web which show substantial reduction in number of schools not serving meals - to about 5% in Oct-Nov 2011 vis-à-vis about 30 % in Jun-Jul 2010.

Thus, the System is a kind of mirror for the decision-maker in so far as it projects a picture in front of them which was just not available to them otherwise; or, if at all any rudimentary information was available, it was available in bits and pieces only and the canvas of intervention was very small.


The most important lesson learnt is that remarkable improvements can be seen in implementation of welfare programmes if we have transparent and neat data on immediate basis.

Overall, the end result is a success story that is worthy of emulation by various other sectors. Most importantly, the initiative has brought in a system of accountability and transparency, primarily because data is available almost immediately; its impact has been that compliance with the scheme has improved to a great extent, which is the ultimate objective of a monitoring system.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Mid Day Meal Authority, Uttar Pradesh, India
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Title:   Chief Finance Officer  
Telephone/ Fax:   +919415014378, +919453004004
Institution's / Project's Website:,
Address:   Mid Day Meal Authority, U.P., 3rd Floor, UPTRON Bhawan, Gomti Nagar
Postal Code:   226010
State/Province:   UTTAR PRADESH
Country:   India

          Go Back

Print friendly Page