[TechSparks 2020] MyGov’s Abhishek Singh on leveraging technology, engaging with citizens, and paving the way for Indian startups
India is known to be the largest democracy in the world. And one of the key elements in a democratic system is the participation of citizens and their involvement in governance.
The digital platform of MyGov is enabling just that. Launched by the Government of India in 2014, it is providing a leeway for citizens to pitch ideas and also contribute to various government projects. So far, the platform has successfully facilitated the engagement of citizens in multiple initiatives such as Clean Ganga, Girl Child Education, Skill Development and Healthy India.
Senior IAS officer Abhishek Singh, who was appointed the CEO of MyGov last year, has been working to leverage the potential of technology for better governance and policy making.
Abhishek talking to Shradha about the role of technology in citizen engagement.
At the 11th edition of YourStory’s flagship event TechSparks 2020, Abhishek spoke to Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory, about the digital solutions executed by the government, championing an innovation-based culture at MyGov, and his experiences of building better relationships between citizens and the government.
Presently, MyGov has more than 139 lakh registered members and is increasingly being used as an open forum for discussing and implementing issues of national importance. Talking about its outreach, Abhishek said,
“MyGov has evolved tremendously in the recent past, given the explosion of social media. It has been a very exciting journey – from trying out new things, looking for creative solutions, to establishing innovative channels of interaction with young minds. Most importantly, we got to do carry out these activities without any boundaries.”
Abhishek also highlighted the drastic increase in the average number of users on MyGov after the COVID-19 outbreak. Until February 2020, the platform witnessed around 5,000 users every day, but it shot up to 16,000 starting from March.
Besides gaining traction on the web platform, MyGov saw a great deal of engagement on apps developed my Indian entrepreneurs like ShareChat and Chingari.
Abhishek Singh, CEO, MyGov.
Image credit: YS Design
When the idea of building a chatbot for MyGov was finalised, the Mumbai-based conversational AI startup, Haptik, pitched in on a pro bono basis.
However, this is not the only way through which the platform has reached out to startups.
“As part of MyGov, we have floated several innovation challenges, especially for entrepreneurs - whether it is to do with developing mobile applications, video conferencing features or even AI solutions. India has a lot of potential and young talent within the startup ecosystem, and our intention is to bring them to fore through such competitions,” Abhishek explained.
Unlike other government departments, the MyGov team is small and well-knit comprising of young, outsourced or contractual employees. The teams are in turn divided according to their areas of responsibility like social media, video production, graphics, partnerships, analytics etc.
MyGov and its team is eyeing to do much more in the near future, including pushing out vernacular content on its platform, deploying volunteers at district, panchayat, and state level to connect with citizens on ground, and setting up voice-enabled services on the e-Gov services podium, Umang.
The role of the government in spurring innovation and boosting startup culture is pivotal. And, Abhishek believes that a few of the best ways to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in the country is to create an ecosystem that can promote startups and work on providing adequate infrastructure, ease of funding and tax benefits.
“The government is already on the right track. The launch of initiatives like Startup India and Invest India validates this. However, we still need to work on setting up better institutional framework for the ease of doing business,” Abhishek said.
TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.