The long queues, cramped rooms and a lot of body heat--classic signs of the regular experience at a government office, be it for a passport or driver’s license, or something far more pressing, it’s hard to decide whether it’s fair to direct your wrath at the officials you’re struggling to deal with behind the desks or the system at a whole. For every Indian who has, at some point or the other, spent hours tackling basic bureaucratic processes however, the news of a ‘mega app’ with all government services being in the works definitely comes as a relief.
The Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG) has been in the pipeline for over eight months now and is being developed by the Union Ministry of Communications and Information Technology’s e-governance division (NeGD). An initiative of the Narendra Modi government, the app will consolidate over 200 central, state and local government services and be available in thirteen languages. In a 207-page long proposal uploaded on the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeiTY) website are listed numerous services including passport services, land records, income tax, e-court, women’s safety, health care applications, and much more.
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The proposal invites bids from potential partner agencies for the development and maintenance of UMANG, which will be available to citzens as a smartphone app as well as through SMS and a toll-free number for non-smartphone users. “Everyone is carrying a smartphone and using the internet on mobile,” an NeGD official told Quartz. “So we want to provide services wherever the citizens are.” Within the first year of the app’s launch, the UMANG platform aims to provide 50 services and over time increase it to 200, by the third year.
This is a big move towards e-governance, an initiative already set in motion with the launch of a portal for farmers to sell their produce online, and if successful it can definitely create a central database of all government documents, and a one-stop-shop in place of having to keep visiting various government departments. But, there are challenges that need to be overcome, first being an assurance of security for people’s personal information and documents. “One of the biggest challenges is to convince various departments to join. But once the platform is functional and there is a stable user base, more departments will come onboard,” said a NeDG official speaking to Quartz. Addressing security concerns NeGD officials stated that the app would be just aggregating the data from the other services rather than storing the data to the [government] cloud.”