If anyone is given absolute power over certain things, then it is bound to result in corruption. For example: If an officer in the VAT department (now subsumed within GST), is given the power to settle a case, then the officer over there is most likely to become corrupt. If the police station, has exclusive power to register an FIR, then the police station is very likely to make a very good amount of money. The reason being, to develop systems that create “checks and balances”, on processes that give exclusive authority to any individual, are cumbersome and easily fallible. The below can work wonders, to resolve this:
There can be 2 methods to resolve this:
(1) Method 1:
Lets consider tax scrutiny. It is being planned to shift most of the scrutiny online. This is very good. However, even if some of the scrutiny were to happen offline, that scrutiny will become a source of corruption. This is because the one doing the scrutiny has an exclusive interaction with the one being scrutinized, with the power to settle the case, and the opportunity to make some easy money. Hence, if due to any reason, manual scrutiny is required, it must not be done by 1 individual. It can be done by 3 individuals, at 3 different times (each separated by 2 months). No one can predict beforehand, that for the 2nd and 3rd time, the scrutinizing person will be either corrupt or non-corrupt. Hence the attitude of settling the matter via bribes will be fraught with risks for both the involved parties, and thus be eliminated, with more people preferring to pay the required fine, which they can showcase during their 2nd and 3rd scrutiny. The absolute power given to 1 individual to decide on a matter is taken away. This will most likely be very effective in eliminating corruption.
(2) Method 2:
Long time back, the software systems had realized the power of APIs. When one system needs to interact with another system, there are 2 methods:
(1) Create a specific communication protocol between the 2 systems.
(2) Let there be a common generic communication protocol, through which the 2 systems can interact.
The advantages of the second method over the first one, are very well documented and thus the second method is widely used.
Lets now apply the same methodology to public interaction with government departments. So, lets create a new center, that will act as an API and temporarily call it as “Suvidha Kendra”.
Now, if any user wants to get a task accomplished, then he interacts with the “Suvidha Kendra”. The “Suvidha Kendra”, is a very lean organization, whose only task is to act as an API. It knows the list of documents required to get a task done. It takes those documents, and passes it to the relevant government department. It knows the expected response time and follows up accordingly. It can accept payments and pass on the amount to the relevant departments. Most importantly, it has no idea of the backend process required to get that task accomplished. Any central or state government department, can make any of their process compatible with “Suvidha Kendra”.
– If I require a birth certificate or a death certificate, I can just walk into a nearby Suvidha Kendra. They will give me a list of documents to submit, and inform me about the timeline. I submit the document to them, and it gives me unique request number, through which I will get all further updates. The transfer of documents is handled by them.
– If my pension is being delayed, then I can just walk into a Suvidha Kendra, and never interact with any other government department. They will handle everything for me.
– If I want to file an FIR, then I can just walk into a Suvidha Kendra, and record my statement and Aadhar verify myself. The Suvidha Kendra, passes all the information to the relevant police station.
– I need to resolve some taxation issue or claim some refund, I can just walk into a Suvidha Kendra, instead of ever going to VAT department. (People who have gone there, will say why they would prefer to not go there).
– A builder wants his sanction plan cleared, he walks with his requirement to a Suvidha Kendra. (No direct government interaction).
– I need Custom Clearance, I can just go to a Suvidha Kendra.
– My passport police verification is not done or is put on hold, then I can just walk into a Suvidha Kendra.
– Any government department, wanting to get some work done from another government department, can also proceed through the Suvidha Kendra.
Suvidha Kendra will thus become a hub of knowledge, interaction and process improvement, with a very lean structure. Any government service, can make itself compatible with the Suvidha Kendra. To make it compatible, means to let the Suvidha Kendra know the API protocol which will consist of: The order to perform some steps, The documents required for each step and the expected timeline for each step. All the interactions at each step will be done by the Suvidha Kendra. Some of the interactions with the Suvidha Kendra will also be enabled online (for example, document upload against a certain unique id of user requirement).
The Suvidha Kendra can send regular SMS updates to the user. If it finds any hiccups in any step of its process for any of its API call, it will document it and devise processes to tackle it (For example: getting a required document which needs to be submitted in a process, might itself require giving some bribe, and thus the Suvidha Kendra will recommend improvement in this very process). Suvidha Kendra will therefore become a hub of knowledge. It will lead to improvement in the government services with every recommendation of processes improvement in the Suvidha Kendra. (Very similar to API Versioning V1, V2, V3.. etc). Being a lean organization, will make it possible to outsource its management to the private sector.
We now have at least 2 points of interaction for the government service – 1 direct, and 1 via Suvidha Kendra.
There can be multiple “Suvidha Kendra” in a single city. So it is not mandatory to interact with any specific center to get the work done. These centers, by their very structure, will be very efficient, and have a very lean structure. Thus if a government process become applicable in one Suvidha Center, then it will get replicated in all the Suvidha Centers throughout the country, thereby giving them the ability to handle these processes.
The Suvidha Kendra is not restricted to processes of only the state government. It can simultaneously have processes of the state and the central government, and even the processes of other states (as it is just an exchange center). The existing online processes have many points of failure, because for some of the many steps in the online processes, these systems do require an interaction with the relevant department, which covertly aid corruption. They are a one to one interaction between the government and the end user. Suvidha Kendras can ensure that the online centers also become corruption free, by optimizing their processes in a quick time.