eGram Vishwagram Project Gujarat
eGram Vishwagram Society

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Government to Citizen (G2C) service delivery to citizens at rural areas is the responsibilities of the District Administration headed by Panchayat Department (‘Panchayat’ means smallest unit of administrative unit of Government of India working out from Village level), Govt. of Gujarat. Gujarat being a large state with over 26 districts, one of the major challenges faced by the administration during delivery of such citizen services was how to make the service delivery points closer to the citizens. Government envisaged the concept to facilitate citizen centric service delivery at the door step of the rural citizens through cost effective and technological means. Traditionally rural citizen had to travel a long distance from their home village to the Block / District Office for accessing these services. The distance could range from 50 to 100 miles based on the type of certificate being required. Also the service delivery was based on means of travel, clarity of the departments and offices (in absence of single window services), hassles in absence of citizen charter, etc. Further, they had to make multiple trips to the respective office through the life cycle of service delivery. A large percentage of the rural population in Gujarat works on daily wages in public / private assignments or on self employment. Hence, making multiple trips for availing services translate not only to money spend in transportation and time wasted, but also to opportunity cost lost by not earning for the day. Also, there were no means available at the administration and government management level to track the service delivery mechanism in the state. Clarity from citizen perspective was missing if they will get the desired certificate or not. Further, other Business to Citizen (B2C) services (such as telecom / DTH recharge, insurance programs, exam registrations etc) were not available at village level since many private organizations do not invest in rural areas due to low volume of business. Government decided to bridge this gap in reaching out to citizens especially at the rural segment. This digital divide was to be efficiently bridged with the help of technology and facilitating the service delivery at the door step to the village level. Other problems in the existing service delivery platform includes the below aspects – 1. No single point of service delivery to rural citizens 2. Target population was rural audiences who required services without understanding and awareness in terms of government functions and administrative structure. 3. Long turnaround time for issuance of certificates / delivery of services 4. Multiple trips to designated office were required in absence of any alert system or technological use. Imparting huge cost and time investment 5. Lack of monitoring of citizen service delivery and ineffective implementation of citizen charter. No proper implementation of citizen charter and no means to monitor the government functions for citizen service delivery. Physical file movement was challenging task a citizen had to go through. 6. Non-availability of reporting mechanism and process to track status of service request.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The problems faced by the rural citizens were addressed by Panchayat Department, Government of Gujarat in 2004-05 when the eGram Vishwagram Project was conceptualized and the pilot was successfully completed at Wankhdu village, Bhavnagar, Gujarat. Idea was very simple - fill the digital gap in service delivery between rural & urban area with help of ICT. E-Gram Viswagram Project provides for electronic issues of certificates at the villages itself so time and money of rural citizen can be saved. Entire setup is established at Village Panchayat at village level, which is the lowest administrative unit of Indian Governance. eGram Viswagram Project provides electronic service delivery which include certificates of birth, death, income, caste, domicile, property, residence proof, agriculture, tax collection, marriage, family information and land ownership at the villages itself, thus saving time and money of rural citizen. Entire setup is established at Village Panchayat at the village level, which is the lowest administrative unit under the District Administration and acts as the single window for any service delivery to the citizens. A digitalized databank is in operation for issuance of the abovementioned certificates at the village level, which is the lowest administrative unit of Indian Governance. The emergence of the eGram project bridged the digital divide and ensured that rural citizens had better reach to government services and technology as a whole. Since the entire eGram project is built on a stable technology platform developed by National Informatics Center (NIC), there are customized reports available to the District Administration. Through constant performance review on the basis of such periodic MIS report, the Administration is able to ensure quick turnaround time for the service delivery. This initiative targets to promote and sustain the gram panchayats, the basic unit of governance of rural India as the delivery point/ conduit of e-services for various government departments. This initiative adopts the Five Es in Governance viz – Ease, Economy, Efficiency, Effectiveness and Ethics.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Panchayat Department, Government of Gujarat was instrumental in conceptualizing the idea of eGram Vishwagram Project. This initiative aims at bridging the digital divide between the urban and the rural Gujarat by ensuring citizen’s right’s to information and translating it to a reality through access to digital information. This in turn is empowering rural community through access to global communication and information. Now there is no waiting period in issuance of various certificates, documents and application forms and these are available at nominal fees at their doorstep. This is also effective in the quick redresses of grievances that used to take a long time before this intervention. In the future this initiative is set to provide commercial services to the rural community. One of the most unique aspect of the project is that it is being operated through Village Computer Entrepreneur (VCE) on a revenue sharing basis under Public Private Partnership model. This innovative mechanism is ensuring prompt services to the citizens; providing opportunity of an additional income to the village panchayats and generating self-employment opportunities for the rural youth. VCE also provide other commercial services through computer, internet and telephones. Within a time span of three years, this initiative has covered 13685 Gram Panchayats (GP) equipped with personal computers to provide basic e-services. Aspects of the projects listed below makes it a creative and innovative initiative – 1. This initiative aims at bridging the digital divide between the urban and the rural Gujarat by ensuring citizen’s right’s to information and translating it to a reality through access to digital information. 2. This in turn is empowering rural community through access to global communication and information. 3. Now there is no waiting period in issuance of various certificates, documents and application forms and these are available at nominal fees at their doorstep 4. This is also effective in the quick redresses of grievances that used to take a long time before this intervention. 5. This initiative targets to promote and sustain the gram Panchayat, the basic unit of governance of rural India as the delivery point/ conduit of e-services for various government departments. The project works on Village Computer Entrepreneur (VCE) model with 80%-20% share between VCE and Local Gram Panchayat. The revenue sharing model is structured in a way to ensure that the VCE would be able to run the shop and the project is self sustainable. 6. Different department can use this center for their MIS collection center too along with services desktop. 7. This is first Project where villagers can also do Video Conference and free VoIP telephony. 8. All services are available at eGram Centre offline as well as Online through Gujarat Portal with option for door-step service delivery 9. Citizen centricity of the project – hassle free and closer G2C and B2C services 10. Centralized and online monitoring of citizen charter, service status and pendency from Network Operation Center at Capital City

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
This was started as a pilot project in the Wankhdu village of Bhavnagar, Gujarat. As part of the eGram Vishwagram Project, the plan was to connected all the 13685 Gram Panchayat villages under a single umbrella for standardized service delivery. The strategy was to divide the problem into smaller stages and complete the activities in a phase by phase approach. Initial stage was to ensure that the Gram Panchayats framework and non-technical infrastructure is in place. Power is a basic infrastructural problem in many parts of the state; hence the second stage was to ensure that all the Gram Panchayats have required power connectivity and are electrified. Once the basic infrastructure was ready, the next leap was to ensure that all technical requirement in terms of hardware and software is available at the eGram centers. In stage 4, connectivity was achieved through VSAT considering that all the centers are in rural areas without any wired connectivity. The final stage was to create the software and roll out the services through the software solution at the eGram centers. Initial project funding was made by the Government as part of the planned budget of the state. Initial ICT Capex funding for 5 computers, 4 printers and 5 webcams at each Gram Panchayat and VSAT connectivity funding was done by the Panchayat Department through its SPV eGram Vishwagram Society. The revenue sharing model makes the system self sustainable and hence all the further fund requirements and Opex are managed from the revenue generated from the project. A large network of 13,685 eGram Centers in 26 Districts are managed by eGram Vishwagram Society (eGVGS) for better governance and operational control. Focus on employment creation and entrepreneurship through the Village Computer Entrepreneur (VCE) Model. All eGram Centers are installed with best in class hardware solutions and VSAT connectivity The final stage was achieved through a two-step approach in the implementation of the project. Initially, the project was started as a pilot in few Districts. The learning from these Districts were relayed to the team which conceptualized and developed the project and the software solution. This was integrated to the new software solution, which was later used for the second phase of the project in the rest of the districts. The second phase was implemented at different Districts in a staggered manner to avoid any issues due to multiple changes happening at the operational level. Another important aspect that is important for the success of project is training and capacity building. Initial training program, provided to a new VCE, is structured keeping in mind that the VCE may be from a non-technical background. The training program educates the VCE on basis computer awareness, apart from the detailed course on usage of the software solution for service delivery. VSAT connectivity is also used to provide ongoing online training. Training is also broadcasted on scheduled time table on the society’s own channel - PAWAN. eGram broadband VSAT connectivity network is also known as PAWAN (Panchayat Wide Area Network) Network which is Asia’s Largest Public Domain VSAT network. With the help of Google, eGram Society has created 29397 user account and now every District is having its own District Group Account as well as State Group account, this facilitates information dissemination and communication directly up to village level by different department. Information dissemination through eMail is carried out by Irrigation Department, Water Supply Board, Health Department, Polytechnic Colleges, Disaster Management Center, etc

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The major stakeholder in this large project is mentioned below • Panchayat Department, Government of Gujarat – Key stakeholder and sponsor of the project • eGram Vishwagram society – Owner of the project who conceptualized and implemented the project in all Gram Panchayats • Village Computer Entrepreneur (VCE) – Entrepreneur with very basic education qualification and drive to service citizens for Government Services • National Informatics Center (NIC) – Software Development • Airtel – Connectivity through VSAT • Firm such as HCL ,APTECH,CMC,CMS,NIIT,ITI – Technical Support and Training Service Provider (TSTSP) – facility management service • IL&FS – Third Party Auditor VSAT Connectivity Solution • Private service providers such as Google for email and other communication solutions
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Initial project funding was made by the Government as part of the planned budget of the state. Initial ICT Capex funding for One computer, printer, Scanner and webcam at each Gram Panchayat and VSAT connectivity funding was done by the Panchayat Department. The project works on Village Computer Entrepreneur (VCE) model with 80%-20% share between VCE and Local Gram Panchayat based on the Public Private Partnership concept. The VCE is a private party and manages the show at the eGram centers. Through a legal contract and SLAs, the VCE is made responsible to ensures that quality services are delivered at the eGram centers. The revenue sharing model is structured in a way to ensure that the VCE would be able to run the shop and the project is self sustainable. The project also generates revenue for the gram panchayats, which in turn ensures that the quality of services are maintained. To support such large project Technical Support & Training Service Provider (TSTSP) appointed at eGram, blocks, District and state level (total 575 IT professionals) whose core work is to provide hardware and software support and capacity building of Village Computer Entrepreneur (VCE) for Technical Support and Training Service to them. Connectivity Network is supported by trained VSAT engineers team (250 engineers) and audited by third party auditors (IL&FS). Training modules were specially designed in the vernacular language and all user employees of the PRIs have been provided hands on training in the use of applications in Gujarati. Professional computer training has been provided to nearly 10000 VCE with special focus on e-gram and close to 12000 Panchayat officials trained under E-Gram Specific Training module on e-gram panchayats. Availability of skilled manpower and the cost involved was always an issue. However, having a planned approach in getting skilled local manpower helped to control this issue. Ministry of Information and Telecommunication, Government of India recognized eGram as eGram CSC Center from 4th Feb 2010 and in compliance of that already e GVGS installed 12161 OMT SMART Tool.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
One of the most successful outputs of the project is that eGram centers have become the single point for delivery of all services. Currently, all the eGram Panchayats are having following Government to Citizen services through Broadband connected Computers - 1. Birth Certificate 2. Death Certificate 3. Farmer’s Status Certificate 4. Caste Certificate 5. Income Certificate 6. Tax Collection Receipts 7. Application Forms for Various Development Schemes under Government 8. Land Records Services 9. Data Entry Work of Different Departments 10. Gram Swagat program for Public Grievance and Disposal Before eGram no body is thinking of village market as a potential but today condition is different, Business Companies are coming with proposal to launch product in eGram Centers. The service delivery at rural level has generated response and now generating demand to add more services to the basket based on the citizens faith in the initiative. Previous to this project rural citizen has to come block and district headquarter to get services of daily uses which finally consumes their money as well as time. Today farmers are getting their land right record in their village itself. Now citizen of rural area are not to travel block level to fill their electricity bills, job applications, gas bill payment, etc. Now some of VCEs are also generating revenue by offering Business to Customer (B2C) services as follows: 1. e-Ticketing of Railways, Roadways and Airlines 2. Utility Bill payments (Electricity, Mobile ,GSPC Gas bill etc) 3. Online exam results related services 4. Employment forms and computer education documentation service for various schemes 5. Matrimonial Services 6. Market linkages for Agri Commodities 7. Recharging of Mobile and Satellite TV and etc. 8. DTP Jobs 9. Resume Writing Farmers in the rural areas are a very important benefactor of this project since now they are getting records related to agriculture land at the village itself. This enables them to avail agriculture subsidies and other benefits much faster and easier. Multiple B2C services such as mobile / Direct To Home TV recharges, electricity bill payment etc are currently available at the village level. This has enabled the rural citizens to have better access to such services and has therefore improved the life of the citizens. The transformation of the rural market is another indirect output that has come out of the project. Many organizations used to consider rural market as a low growth market and hence never used to venture into any business. However, mission eGram has changes the face of the villages by bringing in more entrepreneurs and technology through the implementation of the project. eGram Connectivity Infrastructure is having unique dedicated facility of training through PAWAN Channel (Bandwidth Provision – 4 Mbps) where continuous program broadcasted through it , following is sample list of program which is broadcasted on daily basis along with different other Informative programs like Feel Gujarat Visit Gujarat, Operation Savdhan, Online Ration Card Training for VCEs, Adobe Software Training, RTO Learning Licensee Training for VCEs, Financial Inclusion Training, etc.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The project is now self sustainable and on auto-pilot mode. Various mechanisms have been built in the system to ensure that the performance is monitored. Self correction methods used ensure that the errors identified in the system are relayed to all the stakeholders and action is taken to rectify the same. Concepts such as Technical Support and Training Service Provider (TSTSP) - selected through a detailed evaluation process ensure that the technical infrastructure of the project is monitored on a periodic basis. This is important since business continuity at a Block level is ensured by such service providers. Also, any issue in the system is highlighted to the senior stakeholders without any delay or any damage to the system. Also, services of third part auditors and frequent field visits by the government officials ensure that the project is on track as per the project plan. There are performance targets assigned to the VCEs and they are monitored on a periodic basis by the stakeholders. The MIS reports and status reports available in the software solutions enables the government officials, auditors and senior stakeholders to keep a constant track of the project performance. This includes MIS based on the level of administration and authorities of the stakeholders. Different types of MIS include 1. Status of overall applications and total revenue generation 2. Share of different stakeholders 3. Pendency at any level for applications 4. Certificate wise and office wise pendency reports. Third party Auditor is appointed to monitor, guide & resolve issue by visit of 25% of total village every year & also supervise all the centers closely through NOC at Gandhinagar. NoC administers the total operational and working eGram centres and also help ensure continuity of operations. Ensuring performance and service level adherence: As services at village level available at during office hours. Maximum IT infrastructure uptime is ensured through separate service level agreement made between Vendors and Government. Similarly about 12000 nos. of VCE’s are appointed on contract to run& manage state owned service centres.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
1. The project was not only the change in infrastructure and way of working of the administration but at times called for even changes in certain rules / laws in place to accommodate this change. This large project posted a herculean task in terms of managing all these changes. 2. Infrastructure Challenge- Proper Building with electrification done in systematic manner. The major challenge that was faced in this project was about the change management from the existing framework to a new system based on technology. 3. Connectivity Technology Challenge – Another practical challenge was regarding availability of infrastructure and connectivity. Although usage of a phased approached minimized this problem, nevertheless this created lot of bottlenecks during the implementation phase. Usage of VSAT as a connectivity solution was critical for the success of the project – considering that the project is targeted at the rural areas. 4. Changing the mindset of the people – both government and public was the next challenge. It was also important to ensure that all the stakeholders involved understand the change and acknowledge the reason behind the change. Providing proper information and training to all stakeholder, including public was instrumental in getting this buy in. 5. ICT Service Support Challenge – Technical support Provider Team deployed across all state from Village to state level 6. Training Challenge – Content development in local language 7. Another challenge in terms of being in the rural area was regarding requirement of all content in local languages – be it training, trainers for the training or software content.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
On analyze of the pre and post scenario, before and after the implementation of the eGram project, the below mentioned key benefits would be evident - 1. Better service delivery to citizens. Services available at door step. 2. Availability of G2C and B2C services at rural level 3. Reduced time and cost for travel for availing services 4. Brought accountability and transparency in systems 5. Connectivity available across all Gram Panchayats paving way to better governance in all fronts 6. Online delivery of services – faster and efficient 7. Online monitoring and tracking mechanism to ensure quality service delivery 8. Improved management of administrative activities 9. Online MIS and user based login system 10. Self sustainment of gram panchayat (villages) and resulted in earnings in VCE model The major milestones of the project include: • eRation Card (PDS System) started in April 2011 and 1,207,282 (2011-12), 2,166,606 (2012-13), 552,86,048 (2013-14) e-coupon were issued so far amounting VCE income as Rs 3,621,846, Rs. 9,340,614 and Rs 2,764,30,240 respectively. • eGram Centers provide online authentic copies of Land RoR. Post the service inception in 2009, till date eGrams have issued 30,466,651 (over 30 million) RoRs amount to eGram income of Rs 152, 333,255 • eGram Centers perform electricity bill collection work. Post the inception of services in 2010, 19,551,109 bills have been collected at eGram village centres amounting to VCE income of Rs. 136,857,763 • Currently 168 e-Gram centers are working as pilot for Financial Inclusion Services across Gujarat. • VCEs perform data entry work for Gram Swagat Program.VCEs completed data entries related to health of 11 million rural school children in the year 2009-10. • VCE completed data entry of 89,057 records related to Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojna (greenbelt development schemes) in the year 2012. • Khelmahakumbh 2011-Sports person online registration process was started through eGram and per registration charges collected by VCE is Rs 7/- . • Now rural citizens can apply for Jobs, in eGram itself through OJAS application. • Support for First Year Technical admission (B.Tech / Pharmacy / ITI) is provided from eGram Centers for benefit of students. CSCs also provide online results of 10th and 12th year examinations as well as forms for appearing in these examinations. • GSPC Gas Bill Collection Started in September 2013 and Bill collection so far is 5642 amounting VCE income of Rs 39,494

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
This initiative targets to promote and sustain the village panchayats, the basic unit of governance of rural India as the delivery point/ conduit of e-services for various government departments. eGram project is self sustainable and only the initial ICT and connectivity CAPEX was provisioned by Government. The Gram Panchayats and Village Computer Entrepreneur (VCE) fund of all the OPEX and recurring expenses from the project revenue. To implement the program effectively, eGram initiative has promoted and implemented capacity building measures for all the stakeholders. It includes providing technical support and training support personnel’s at all the four levels i.e. State, district, block and gram Panchayats level. Its main responsibility includes backstopping Panchayats Offices and imparting training programs for village computer entrepreneur. To follow up and build up on the past capacity building measures, a sustained training and technical support through competent organizations is planned for the next three years to assist the PRIs in e-Governance. An ambitious e-governance and capacity building program to cover all elected representatives of all District Panchayats, Taluka (block) Panchayats figuring close to 19000, will be completed in current financial year. This will provide basic e-governance orientation to the public representatives and also enable them to use computer for retrieval of information. The software used for the project may be used not only to scale the project to provide more citizen services from various departments, but also can be extended to other states as a product to implement such a project without any investment for developing a new software. The services bucket includes all the required certificates, affidavits, B2C transactions, electricity and gas bills, online applications, etc. The reach and scalability of the services and departments can be extended with no additional cost to the end user.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
• Technology can act as a transformation agent to bring about service excellence till the village level benefitting and providing convenience to millions of rural citizens through easy, economic, efficient and quality service delivery at the door step. • The project helps enable government to bridge the digital divide across the demographic layers of the society. The transformation has been visible with the number of eTransactions carried out per village for variety of services being delivered through eGRAM centres. • The participation, involvement and accountability can be brought into practice with the help of delegated authorities and bringing technological advancement into practice. The model of eGram is self sustainable with participation from village panchayat, Village Computer entrepreneur and all citizen participation. This has led to immense saving of Government and citizens service delivery has been effective. • Wide variety of service delivery is being ensured at village level through implementation of eGram. This is an example of convergence of the departments for providing single window services in cross sectoral functions o Certificates, Affidavits and other B2C services (Mobile recharge, DTH recharge, Travel ticketing) o Financial Inclusion services across Gujarat o GSPC gas bill payment collection o Different forms  State Government Job Applications  Online results  ITI, BE/BTech tech Admission forms o Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Schemes o CV writing, DTP Work, Scanning facility, Free VoIP technology • The key to the success was to empower people and make them a part of the project. This helped them to understand the value behind the change and be a part of it, rather than rebel again the change. • Constant training and capacity building initiatives were required to help this huge change – from a technology, process and people perspective. • The projects leverage the Public Private Partnership model and hence the private firms being able to provide support at rural areas would be critical for the ongoing operational success of the project.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   eGram Vishwagram Society
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Poonamchand Parmar
Title:   Chairman (EC-eEGVGS) and PS (PRHRD)  
Telephone/ Fax:   079-23251103/079-23252055
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Block 8/ Floor 3, New Sachivalaya, Gandhinagar
Postal Code:   382010
City:   Gandhinagar
State/Province:   Gujarat

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