Pratyush Joshi is setting new standards for using government portals for the quick redressal of civic woes.
Meet Pratyush Joshi, a 24-year-old engineer from Jodhpur, who has taken up the responsibility to rid his community of civic woes and enable the government to effectively serve its citizens. In a time where the bustling pace of life seldom instigates the millennials to think of societal betterment, Pratyush’s journey has been one that is inspiring.
It was 2014 when Pratyush and his family moved from Jodhpur to the outskirts of the city at Chopsani Housing Board. This transition exposed him to a plethora of problems people faced there. The civic amenities provided were in shambles. "I saw that the people around me were managing their lives somehow but I had decided that it did not have to be that way," says Joshi. They faced varied problems on a daily basis like the absence of a disposal system, poor roads that made commuting difficult, lack of adequate water supply, broken streetlights to name a few. This made Pratyush seek out means to voice his concerns. In this pursuit, he came across the link to ‘Rajasthan Sampark' — a portal for addressing issues run by the Government of Rajasthan on the state's official website.
"The first request I put in was for the garbage to be collected at fixed periodic intervals and the allotment of specific areas for its disposal," he says. Pratyush was in for a pleasant surprise when the issue was addressed within a week. It was then that the singular idea of tackling these civic issues crossed his mind. He furthered his responsibility of fixing other issues in his locality through this portal.
Pratyush then got the streetlights replaced by the municipality: “I sent them the details of the broken streetlights and about 20-26 streetlights were fixed and some replaced by the municipal corporation. I then realised the importance of this portal.” He also ensured adequate clean water supply to his locality and regular maintenance of public properties; many such grievances were addressed, the cost for which amounted to a ballpark figure of Rs 4 crore. "The cost doesn't matter. The problem could be either big or small,” he says. He has availed the services of the portal to solve 126 issues, of which 96 have been resolved satisfactorily and the rest are in the process of being resolved. His initiatives don’t just revolve around his locality — he has successfully addressed issues in the neighbouring areas of Pali and Barker.
An ardent traveller, Pratyush says that after realising the effectiveness of the Sampark portal, he often raises new issues he learns about while travelling and keeps track of them until they are successfully resolved. He regularly visits eight tehsils of Jodhpur, identifies issues that need to be raised in remote villages, and uploads the complaints on the portal. These grievances are promptly sent across the respective departments for a solution.
Recollecting one of the issues, Pratyush talks about how his relative from Pali was troubled by inadequate water supply. His village used to hire tankers thrice a month to get water which was a tedious process. Several complaints were registered and regular visits to the government offices bore no results. Pratyush then raised this issue on the portal; a pipeline was laid and regular supply was ensured within 20 days.
Rajasthan Sampark is an initiative of the Government of Rajasthan to register public complaints and attend to other civic grievances. An online portal with a centralised platform, the citizens of the state can avail its services to lodge their grievances to the respective departments. It consists of a state level call centre with an integrated web portal which acts as a single point of contact between the citizen and the government. Here, the addressing and redressing of various citizen-centric queries and grievances related to government services are done.
“It takes five minutes to lodge a complaint. It’s a great tool,” he says. “You get a message on your mobile phone the moment you lodge a complaint. The departments become accountable once the complaint is registered. The collector himself takes action if the redressal does not take place within stipulated time.”
Representatives of the Municipal Corporation say that several people in the district are now actively using the portal to resolve their issues.
“I lodged my first complaint on July 22, 2014,” says Pratyush. Ever since then he has been the cause and an inspiration for several civic changes. Out of the 140 grievances raised by him, a total of 100 have been resolved satisfactorily and the rest are in the process of resolution. Recently, Pratyush instigated a complete work report for the restoration of four main roads in his district that amounted to a cost of Rs 320 crore approximately. He was awarded Jodpur's ‘Veer Durgadas Rathore Smtrti Award’ by Durgadas Rathore Smtrti Sansthan for his public welfare work.
Pratyush is a volunteer for Digital India's Rajasthan campaign, and his approach towards digital medium for solving socio-civic issues has been influential in forming in his community a well-informed group of netizens.
According to Pratyush, small changes are the key to big success; citizens must understand their responsibilities and foster a co-operative relationship with the government. “We need to collaborate with the government for making a better framework for governance.” Good governance rightfully needs the encouraging nudges and well-intended efforts from of its public.
When asked about the defining moments that shaped his moral fibre, he responds with a story from his schooldays. He, along with his other friends at Bal Niketan, organised a drive to clean the entire school campus. “We called it the Samuhik Safai Abhiyaan. We cleaned the entire school campus in 30 minutes. Some of us cleaned the classes, some cleaned the playground, and together as a team we got the task done. This was a turning point in my life.”
That was the day he learnt about the two pivotal guiding forces of a true citizen — civic duties and responsibilities.