Jun 25, 2015

Digital India – We need the CULTURE Curry

Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast – Peter Drucker

Late 1990’s: As a trainee, with a telecom operator in Mumbai, I learned the most common problem faced by the network team was “RIGHT OF WAY”*.

Jump to 2015, venue Delhi, A Digital India conclave, as I speak at a Panel discussion on “Digital Governance”: telecom industry’s biggest challenge continues to be “RIGHT OF WAY”.

GT DC low res

During the same session, an example was shared of so called “digital service”- appointment confirmation on sms- at AIIMS Delhi. Where a user can be informed about their upcoming appointment with a doctor. A good initiative, however lacks sense of purpose, that the outcome should be effective medical service delivery using “Digital Platform”.


Can you imagine yourself at a railways e-ticket counter/ passport office few years’ back. Entire experience was a nightmare, long queues, rude staff and –“I am doing you a favour”- attitude.

Today technology is transforming government processes. From being the gatekeeper to one who offers services, government approach towards digital is like, young adults- want Sex but not ready mentally and physically (High desirability but lower readiness).

Limited involvement of government, especially, introduction of Self Service option has definitely bought improvements in service levels. Again these initiatives are successful because the government machinery is not directly involved. Thus establishes effectiveness of technology based service delivery and lack of “Digital Culture” in governance.

So is this really about technology or the Culture in governance, which we need to amend first?

Mobile / social media has changed expectations and digital inclusion has leapfrogged (though nowhere near to being complete) in India. The power is now being snatched away from governments hands and the citizens at large will decide how where and what services they will consume.

Steps like integrating Jan-dhan, Aadhar and Mobile (JAM) is not making this transformation easy. Whereby government has to move from being to boss to being the service provider and welfare delivery mechanism (real servant?).

As the information becomes more transparent, easily accessible layered with user demanding information (as we move to e/m governance).It looks like we are headed for a conflict, as digital and governance are poles apart.

Digital allows transparency while, Governments want to protect and own, a fundamental difference.

What Next? :

The current government structure is part savvy and part naïve (fighting the change). To embrace change Government needs to start working in new way more like a Digital Enterprise. Urgency is the need of the hour, and culture will drive the success.

There are definite steps that needs to be taken

  • Don’t hide behind the “IT / Digital” technology. Create a framework for identifying the barriers to enabling effective implementation of digital culture.
  • Digital culture needs holistic approach, towards culture and structural transformation of the government machinery.
  • Only collaborative engagements, continuous dialog, sharing and collective learning can enlighten this path of “Digital India” from an effective governance point of view.
  • Accountability and delivery mechanism

Hoping for a Digital India in next few years.

 *Right of way is a term used to describe “the legal right, established by usage or grant, to pass along a specific route through grounds or property belonging to another”, or “a path or thoroughfare subject to such a right”. A further definition is that it is a type of easement granted or reserved over the land for transportation purposes, this can be for a highway, public footpath, railway, canal, as well as electrical transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines.

For Comments pls write to girish.trivedi@monkconsulting.co.in

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