Abhishek Singh, the CEO of MyGov, speaks to NewsX’s Managing Editor on how the organisation and the app have brought tech start-ups together to innovate and collaborate.
Q. Many of you will already be aware of MyGov, its one of the portals put together by the government of India a few years ago that actually invites participation from all of you.Thanks for sparing some time, can you help us understand the successes of MyGov?
A. MyGov as you rightly said is a citizen engagement platform that was launched by our honourable PM in July of 2014. In the last 6 years, what MyGov has done is that it had played the role of enabling participating governance by connecting the citizens with the government. What it does is – it enables two way communication between the government and citizens. On one hand, it involves the citizens to contribute to policy making, to give their suggestions, to give their inputs with regard to what the government is doing in various sectors of the government and then MyGov takes those suggestions and shares it with the concerned department for due consideration and implementation. The concerned departments take these inputs into their policy formulation strategy. Secondly MyGov disseminates the information about the schemes and policies of the government to the citizens in a language which is easily comprehensible. We do it through our various channels – we do it through our portal MyGov.in, MyGov app, various social media platforms whether it is Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter.
We use all channels of social media where citizens are there today. We communicate Governments messages with interesting infographics and images so that people are able to understand it better. MyGov is like a bridge between the government and the citizens.
Q. I am showing the page live as we speak there is a Aarogya Setu app, Mann Ki Baat coming up on the 26th, it says you have 10,00,000 registered members, 7.12lakh submissions, 43lakh comments, votes on polls that had taken place, you guys are organising a webinar on the development of video conferencing solution. If I take that as an example a platform like this getting stakeholders together in a webinar to actually find an indigenous video conferencing solution. How would this work?
A. The video conferencing solution that we have launched as an innovation challenge is a unique concept. Due to COVID-19, when various departments of the government started working from home, one of the challenges was as to how to conduct remote meetings. The platforms that were available which were very commonly used across industries, the private sector and the government, there were certain issues raised when it came to privacy and security. It was felt that why can’t we as India – the IT solution provider to the world build up a solution of its own which can be hosted in our servers and to make sure that government takes services from the solution provided. We have launched a solution challenge towards this objective. Within just 5 days of launching the challenge we got almost more than 125 entries coming in. I am sure we will be able to incubate one of the tech startups from India for developing a solution which will not only provide service to the Government of India but will go on to provide services to other enterprises from around the world with the potential of being a unicorn.
Q. This concept of not waiting, but also soliciting an idea. We are not waiting for a tender to come out, or some complicated procedure. This is actually share your ideas through a web portal. If you have a good idea share it with us, good innovation, good solutions come to us and we will assist you.
A. We are doing this with a partnership with MeitY Startup Hub, whose job is to incubate startups. The way this works is we take all the entries till the 30th of this month, out of which 10 best will be shortlisted for development of a prototype and those 10 shortlisted in the first round will be given financial support of 5 lakh rupees each to develop the prototype. Out of the prototypes developed on a smaller scale, 3 best solutions will be chosen for building a full fledged solution with a grant support of Rupees 20 lakhs each for the development of their solution. Once they develop the final solution the best one will get a government contract for deploying the solution for use by the government of India for the next 4 years and they will receive a sum of 1 Cr rupees.
Q. One challenge is without getting people to actually know this exists and to join in and come up with ideas. Now we face the same challenges as well in broadcast people have been showcased on our shows and through that we have seen phenomenal response from within the government. One of the boys from IIT Delhi had come up with a machine using UV rays to sanitise gloves and surgical masks, he just informed us that after our telecast last weeks he’s got the ICMR clearance to make the product. How do we encourage more people and communicate this concept better?
A. As you rightly said the real advantage for such an innovation challenge system will be if we can expand the outreach and ensure more people from across the country can participate in such innovation forums and contribute to nation building. What we have done so far is that we have 10 million active users on MyGov, we also have a huge following on the social media platforms plus we communicate through all other channels whether it’s emails or newsletters. The idea is to expand the message to each and every phone user in our country. Especially to carry out campaigns for COVID19, we are also leveraging podcasts that we share with community radio operators, so that the message or the podcast that we are posting on the MyGov platform is shared with them, the community radio operators also translate the message into regional languages to take it to people not having a smartphone or access to a device to see the content that is available on the portal.
Q. The other challenge is the internal challenge, feedback and suggestions coming in. You have been almost 5 and a half years into this, how successful have you been in overcoming the internal challenge to new ways of doing things.
A. Whenever we have reached out to any department for a campaign we have got very good support and feedback from the concerned departments. For example- we set up ideas and suggestions box for the Union budget with help of the finance ministry. Within the period of 2 to 3 weeks we got almost more than 20,000 suggestions for the budget. Later on the Union Finance Minister wrote a thank you letter to all those who contributed suggestions. Similarly in partnership with Tourism Department we are organising and running campaigns like ‘Dekho Mera Desh’ and ‘Ek Bharat shreshtha Bharat’ campaign. We get a lot of support from the concerned departments and positive feedback and suggestions. With the HRD ministry, we did ‘Pariksha pe Charcha’ where the PM addressed the students on how to manage stress. For, the monthly programme of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ we collect inputs from people through our ideas box which will be there till the 23rd as the broadcast is on the 26th. There are a lot of people who connect with us through our IVRS lines where people can call and record their suggestions, so the channels of communication with the government have been opened like it was never before. Today people can call and record what they want to say, they do not need to type it and enter it on a website. We have provided toll free numbers to communicate with the people. It has opened an outlet and I am sure with the support of the media and such programmes the message has been conveyed far and wide.
Q. Is this a format which we can then replicate for a teleconferencing and for many other solutions?
A. This is a different form of procurement which the government will be doing and depending on the success, this can be replicated for a variety of products. If you look at popular video streaming services like YouTube, you find that the most popular channels on it are T Series, Sony and Zee. The entire content provided is being given by top content producers from the Indian entertainment industry. If there can be an Indian streaming service run by a startup or Indian IT major there is no reason it can’t be as successful as Google and YouTube.
Q. Technologically this should not be very difficult, I am sure we are going to crack it very easily. Its about branding and popularisation, So getting it on the uptake of Team India and really looking at it as our own. How do we get into that mindset?
A. That would require effort and giving some time for the solution to be built and scaled up. When the best Indian minds are building solutions for the whole world, there is no reason why we can’t build it for ourselves and ensure that they are sustained. This experiment we are doing with video conference solution is just a beginning and depending on its success, we will further see what kind of modifications might be needed to fine tune such a model. We can think of creating an ecosystem to promote Indian software products. That is where the next wave of IT Indian companies will come from.
If you are an entrepreneur out there, and if you have a solution and you haven’t already jumped in you should, because as soon as you are the winner or one of the top three you will get a lot of publicity you would get. The publicity will help the brand to take off publicly. Using that technological solutions and the amount of reach it will get throughout the country. If you have not got in here is your chance. 25 people have already jumped in, lets make a success out of this model. Everything that we have been asking the government to do is being exemplified in this model. Lets all jump in.
Q. For the efforts you are making, and it’s such a relief to see this website and go through it. I an promising you anybody who goes through this website will not see this as a government website. The way its been put together and the idea that are being put into place through this. What do you need sir in actually pushing this? How can we help, how can the people watching help?
A. MyGov has been doing this for a long time, we would request you to share the kind of things the government does, with more people. Sometimes the perception people may have of the government might not always be true. This is not the only such initiative the government has done. You should also look into the kind of projects that the government has brought into action over the last few years. Whether it’s the UID project, the UPI – these kind of identity and payment solutions built by the Government of India does not exist anywhere else in the world. The Digital locker, is a safe repository for academic records and all kinds of records. There will also be a time where one can store electronic health records in the Digilocker securely with a consent framework built in there. And then we will have a situation, wherein a doctor from Gangaram Hospital will be able to access the medical records with the consent of the patient even if it’s from Apollo or any other hospital. We have all seen the potential of the Aarogya Setu app, we have already had more than 70 million downloads which created a record across the world. We broke the record of Pokemon go also which was a gaming app. With the support of media, resident societies, community, NGOs the government can achieve a lot. We should have trust in what the Govt is doing and with the support of our technological partners there is nothing we cannot do.
Q. In doing this for over more than 6 years, what have the lessons that you have picked up and the problems you have come across and solving them. How has the journey been?
A. Over the period of time this portal has evolved and there have been a lot of people involved, and with efforts of my team members – it has become what it is today. The latest content we are seeing on COVID19, it is all being done by a team of young executives who are working remotely from home. Some are in Faridabad, some in Palwal, some in Greater Noida. They all collaborate together without having any access to resources which they would generally get in Govt offices. Mantra for doing what has been done and for the future is Innovation and Collaboration. A constant endeavour to innovate and to work in a collaborative mode. We take all feedback and suggestions positively and try to see where we can use what to improve our work because eventually the content on the portal is for the citizens. If the citizens don’t approve it, the portal will not work and when we do that we look into customising the content for various sections of people and various age groups. You will find the audience on Instagram and audience for Facebook and Twitter are completely different. When we launched COVID19 campaigns on TikTok, we realised that the audience is totally different here. We have to customise our messaging for each platform and that is where we experiment and learn. Endeavour from my team has always been to improve constantly.
Q. Once you are through with the process, we would like to amplify the process as much as we can. The three winners you select or the top 10 you select let’s put together a telecast. Give them a chance to tell their story and their models, how you guys interacted with them and the solution they came up with. It will help advertise the platform once it goes from stage 1 to 2
A. Of course we could do that , it will be a big boost for them as well because the idea here is not only to get a solution for the Government but to incubate startups so that they can create businesses that can contribute to creating enterprises, which can offer services not only to businesses in India but across the world.
Open offer sir, whatever we can do to help. We can profile as many people as we can, we will reach out to you regularly. Good things that we are doing, let’s all do it together. Wishing you all the very best to you and your team sir.
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ICDMA FOUNDER TO INTRODUCE AI PLATFORM FOR IDENTIFYING AND MITIGATING DIGITAL RISKS
ICDMA is a provider of IT services such as Cyber Forensics, IT Audit, IT Risk Evaluation, and Digital Security. In recent years, it has become a tried-and-true standard for businesses looking to defend their brands, enterprises, and reputations from crippling cyber attacks. They develop and deploy information security platforms and services, both standard and personalised, to protect, evaluate, and respond to cyber threats such as security breaches that occur in your systems and networks. The services they provide include Application and Web Development, Graphic Design, Security Audits, Cyber Security Services, Vulnerability Assessments, Fraud Risk Management, and IT Consultancy.
In addition, the firm achieved awards for being the best Cyber Forensics firm preventing businesses from external threats. A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for the security of an organisation, business, or government agency from cyber threats. Their primary role is to analyse any possible threat that might occur through or to your system and come up with plausible and practical solutions to protect you.
Being a cyber security expert and analyst, Dheeraj Kumar has years of experience and stays up-to-date with the current crimes and security trends. He believes that like many other professions, this is a never-ending learning field. They monitor your networks and then analyse them to find common threat patterns or trends. Further, they design software that suits the needs of the problem at hand and ensures that these measures are maintained properly. If, in any case, they encounter a new problem, they utilise their years of experience and knowledge to produce a unique solution.
Witnessing the increased cyber threats, Cybersecurity analyst Dheeraj advises people to use the Internet wisely and productively. Dheeraj is currently working on an Al-driven platform for identifying and mitigating digital risks and counteracting brand impersonation attacks with the company’s patented technologies at its core. Dheeraj’s experience in threat hunting and cyber intelligence has been fused into an ecosystem of highly sophisticated software and hardware solutions designed to monitor, identify, and prevent cyberattacks.
A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for the security of an organisation, business or government agency from cyber threats. Their primary role is to analyse any possible threat that might occur through or to your system and come up with plausible solutions.
EXPO 2020 A GLOBAL PLATFORM TO HIGHLIGHT ACHIEVEMENTS OF SPACE SECTOR: EMM PROJECT MANAGER
The six-month Expo 2020 Dubai is a crucial window for the participating countries to present their accomplishments across different sectors, and the space sector is one of them. The event will shed light on the development of this sector around the world, emphasising its importance for humans in particular and the planet in general.
Expo 2020 has devoted a full week to space, from 17 to 23 October, during which a dialogue session will be held with Emirati astronauts along with entertainment, art and science activities. Also, information related to space sciences will be disseminated among other related space activities. In an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), said, “This year, the UAE has achieved milestone accomplishments in the space sector by its arrival to Mars, and before that, it had played a key role in stimulating this sector besides the science and technology sectors.”
On the role of Expo 2020 Dubai as a prominent global platform to highlight the country’s achievements in the national space sector, Al Sharaf pointed out that Expo is not only a global event to showcase the cultures of other countries, but rather a platform for presenting scientific, technical and cultural achievements around the world.
He added that one of the reasons for the quick establishment of the space sector in the country “is because this sector depends on international cooperation, and the UAE did not consider its space programme as a race with other countries, but viewed it as an opportunity to cooperate with different nations, which contributed to activating the role of the sector and speeding its development, thus placing the UAE at the forefront of countries in this sector.”
Regarding the most nationally prominent projects in the space sector during the current period, Sharaf said, “The space sector is going through a very important and sensitive stage today, as the UAE has previously invested through the ‘Hope Probe’ project and other related projects to attract knowledge to the country from abroad and build on the capabilities of Emirati youth through knowledge transfer programmes.”
“Today, after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, announced the upcoming mission, which is a new space programme to explore planet Venus and seven other [asteroids] in the solar system, the focus will be on transferring knowledge from the UAE space sector to the private sector to create a stimulating environment and support the science and technology sector in the country, and at the same time serve the UAE’s economy is facing various challenges, including water resources and food resources, among others,” he added.
When asked regarding the sector’s participation in the Space Week at Expo 2020, Sharaf said that the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and the various specialised authorities have a great role in Expo. As for Space Week, there are various participations, including lectures, seminars, or receiving various delegations to discuss cooperation in the space sector.
“This is a great opportunity for countries to work together, and we, as the Emirati space sector, have decided to take advantage of this opportunity at Expo to build and strengthen these relations, and it will be the beginning of greater cooperation and ambitious projects across the world and the region.”
IIT KANPUR STUDY EXPLAINS THE SUCCESS OF COVID-19 CONTROL MODEL OF UTTAR PRADESH
The information has been collated and reviewed by the Social and Political Research Foundation, a policy think tank based in New Delhi, aimed at making public policy research holistic, accessible, and evidence-based.
The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the health system across India. Most states struggled to prevent the surge in cases and ensure adequate supply as the virus created a situation of upheaval. However, a recent study led by Padma Shri Awardee Prof. Manindra Agrawal of IIT-Kanpur elaborates that with careful planning, multiple strategies and close monitoring Uttar Pradesh’s Covid-19 response model turned out to be more effective in comparison with many other states.
TABLE 1: NTPR DURING THE SECOND WAVE
The data points out that the daily case count was brought down to just 1,497 on 31 May after the peak of 38,000 was recorded on 24 April. It can be noted that the reduction in numbers happened quite fast in the state as compared with many other ones, for example, Maharashtra and Kerala, which supports the study’s arguments.
Beginning with the foremost concern of reducing the spread, the UP model followed the Test, Trace, Treat, Tackle (TTTT) approach. Under the strategy, the TTTT teams were instated in rural UP to conduct door to door testing, enabling early detection and ensuring isolation and treatment. These TTTT teams covered around 97,941 villages. Niti Aayog and WHO also lauded the efforts of the state in conducting a mammoth house-to-house testing and tracing drive, supported by micro-planning and concurrent follow-ups. As highlighted by the IIT-Kanpur study, other measures of the state involved capacity building through intensive training on all major aspects of Covid-19, provision of infrastructures like ICU beds, ventilators, and creation of safety nets and incentives via state and central funding schemes (PMJJBY, PMSBY, AKBY, etc.).
While preventing the surge in cases was one aspect of the model, the government also managed the high demand crisis of oxygen resounding throughout the nation then. To tackle the surge in demand the government set up an oxygen monitoring system to track oxygen tankers and rolled out a stringent oxygen audit which saved around 30 MT of oxygen per day. Also, the state’s strategy to airlift empty tankers with the help of IAF lessened the turnaround time saving 10 hours. Apart from ensuring these, the model also addressed the concerns regarding the livelihood of the people. With the commitment to save the lives and livelihoods of people, the UP government did not resort to strict lockdowns and opted for partial curfews to break the Covid-19 chain. And, adapting to the situation of the pandemic, the government supplied policies for ease of mobility (separate buses and trains for migrant workers), employability (DBT 1000 to migrants) and sustenance (cash transfers to marginalised sections). The study also states that such measures helped in keeping the unemployment rate below the national average as depicted in the graph below.
Formulated on the four essential pillars of protection of livelihood, optimisation of economy, facilitation of healthcare services and restriction of virus spread, it has been pointed through the study that the UP Covid-19 model has created a benchmark. The study then draws a comparison among the states based on the Normalised Test Positivity Rate (NTPR) which is the ratio of Test Positivity Ratio and percentage of active cases. It shows that the strategy of the UP model was to aggressively change the pandemic which helped in the control.
Furthermore, the study also found that the timing of the containment measures was near-optimal, which in any other situation could have caused a peak of more than 70,000 daily cases as shown in the graph below.
Nonetheless, the second wave has dealt a heavy blow to not just India’s but globally existing health infrastructure, unveiling a systemic failure that led many to conclude that no model or strategy is perfect. This points towards a large scope of improvement for all state administrations and governing bodies.
The information has been collated and reviewed by the Social and Political Research Foundation, a policy think tank based in New Delhi, aimed at making public policy research holistic, accessible, and evidence-based.
58 abstracts pertain to research in Covid-19 at PGIMER
Out of 576 abstracts received for showcase, 58 abstracts pertain to research in COVID 19. Only research conducted in the last three years in Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research has been included for the showcase for the 8TH Annual Research Day at the institute.
“With 576 abstracts received, the highest so far, there has been an overwhelming response for the 8th Annual Research Day of PGIMER which is being celebrated on 22nd October. Another first this year is the compilation of H index from all the departments, which measures both the productivity and citation impact of the publications. Basically, through this, the intent is to monitor our strengths as well as our areas of improvement in the domain of research in the institute,” stated Prof. A.K.Gupta, Dean (Research) & Medical Superintendent, PGIMER while briefing at the curtain-raiser organised for the upcoming Annual Research Day here at PGIMER today.
“With the two more categories added this year from NIPS and NINE in the earlier categories of medical, and surgical and para clinical, 47 awards will be given to the best entries including all categories,” shared Gupta.
Detailing about the mandate of the Annual Research Day, the dean (Research) further shared, “The end objective of any research is to bring in more and more innovation and translate them into excellent clinical services for the masses. With the remarkable research contributions by the participants, we are hopeful of further upskilling our clinical services, thereby, helping our patients.”
Another senior faculty present included Prof. Vishali Gupta, Deptt. of Ophthalmology, Prof. K. Gaba, Sub-Dean (Research) & Head, Deptt. of Oral Health Sciences, Dr Arnav Pal, Faculty In-charge, MERC and Prof. Ramandeep Singh, Deptt. of Ophthalmology.
Citing personalised medicine as the future, Prof. Vishali Gupta from Deptt. of Ophthalmology, PGIMER called the event a landmark opportunity for collaboration and cross-fertilisation of ideas and knowledge among the luminaries within the institute.
While giving her perspective on Annual Research Day Prof. K. Gaba, Sub-Dean (Research) & Head, Deptt. of Oral Health Sciences shared, “The Research Day connotes the need for teamwork, mentorship and synergy among various departments and institutes.
Dr Arnab Pal, Faculty In-charge, MERC, who has been closely involved in putting together the Annual Research Day stated, “Out of 576 abstracts received for showcase, 58 abstracts pertain to research in COVID 19. Only research conducted in the last three years in PGIMER has been included for the showcase.”
“Annual Research Day instils a sense of competition among the young fellow doctors and makes them more aspirational by raising the bar for them’, said Prof. Ramandeep from Deptt. of Ophthalmology.
Briefing further, Prof. A.K.Gupta, Dean (Research) & Medical Superintendent, PGIMER informed, “The Annual Research Day will have the august presence of two eminent medical scientists of the country, Prof. Y.K. Chawla, former Director and Prof. Digambar Behera, former Dean (Research) of PGIMER as Chief Guest and Guest of Honour respectively.”
PM Modi showers praise on Haryana CM Khattar
JHAJJAR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi remotely inaugurated the newly constructed Infosys Foundation Vishram Sadan in the National Cancer Institute campus located in the Badsha area of Jhajjar district.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated Vishram Sadan at Badsa NIC, Jhajjar to the nation, through video conferencing.
Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal, Health Minister Anil Vij, BJP State President Omprakash Dhankhar, and MP from Rohtak Lok Sabha constituency, Dr Arvind Sharma were present in the inauguration ceremony at Badsa NCI campus.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Infosys Foundation Chairperson Sudha Murthy joined the video conference. During the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi showered praise on Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
“Haryana has got the most honest Chief Minister in the last five decades. I have been with Manoharlalji for a long time but after becoming the Chief Minister, his talent has shone even more,” Prime Minister Modi said.
“The Central government on several counts has learnt from the methods of the Haryana government. I congratulate Manoharlalji for his successful efforts,” added the Prime Minister.
AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria was also present at the opening ceremony.
PUNJAB CM URGES POLICE TO ENSURE EFFECTIVE, TRANSPARENT POLICING ACROSS THE STATE
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Thursday asked the Police force to ensure effective, efficient and transparent policing across the state to instil confidence of the general public in the law and order machinery.
Prioritising the challenges being faced by the state, Channi asked the entire police force right from top brass to the bottom to work in unison to eradicate corruption, break the drug supply chain, illicit liquor trade and curb the sand mafia with heavy hand. The Chief Minister categorically said that the police should develop a system to identify the drug peddlers/smugglers who were supplying drugs to our youth so as to fell prey to this menace.
Chairing the first meeting after assuming the charge as Chief Minister here at CMO this evening, Channi asked the officers to discharge their duties with utmost dedication; honesty and professional commitment so that the people should feel the difference and a message to this effect must go down the line.
Showing grave concern over the adulteration of food products like milk, cheese and other dairy products, the Chief Minister asked the police department to launch a vigorous campaign in tandem with the health department to crack down on such unscrupulous elements, who were playing havoc with the health of the people. He also asked the ACS Home to rope in the vigilance teams to trap these adulterators indulging in such inhuman practices.
The Chief Minister further said that all the officers who have been recently posted on new assignments strictly on their merit and track record should now perform their duties diligently to effectively deliver the goods in terms of reposing the trust of common man in the policing. Channi categorically said that none of any person without any fault should be implicated in false cases or harassed unnecessarily by keeping them under illegal custody.
The Chief Minister also asked the SSPs to issue detailed directions to all the DSPs and SHOs to ensure that the petty shopkeepers especially the vendors should not be fleeced by taking money from them in lieu of allowing them to put stalls for selling crackers and other items during the coming Diwali. He also asked the police to firmly deal with those anti-social elements indulging in the malpractices of betting/gambling and be given the exemplary punishment as deterrents for others without showing any laxity. He however said the patrolling especially at night during the festival season should be intensified to avoid any untoward incident.
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