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Meeting with Mr Vidyashankar - Notes

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<< Edited on 22 Aug 08 >>

Using this entry as a precedence, here is a thread to compile outcome of today's today's meeting with Mr Vidyashankar, Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka.

Key messages:
1. Don't get demotivated, keep the momentum going...
2. Revive a BATF type entity for transparent interaction b/w Govt and Citizens. With regular interaction meetings, such a platform enables citizens and prominent individuals to discuss issues and ideas directly with the government, and monitor progress on what was previousely agreed. More effective than groups meeting with individual officers.

After introductions, discussed some issues, and expressed appreciation of what he has done as CEO.

CEO himself is from IT background. Knows who we (Praja) are.

Understands the issues and problems very well. Has a set of solutions in mind himself, some under execution. Wants to put the house in order << updated >> (under his jurisdiction). Hope is that someone will notice the changes here and follow suit in other states.

About Voters list & ID (my understanding of what he had to express):
> Transparency is high on the agenda.
> Current system is archaic. Needs updates. Some updates need changes in the law. << updated >>.

> Pilot project ongoing to get all voters list along with geographical data on the web. A private company with plenty of experience is entrusted with this work. They will maintain it for five years as well, and governement staff with training will continue from there on. Idea is to provide a map of constituencies, and click on it to get details of voters registered!
> The project also aims to streamline the distribution of populace across polling booths, so you always go to the nearest polling booth. Exercise in Shanthinagar is already complete. In 3 to 4 months time, all Bangalore data is expected to be available. All constituencies in Karnataka would be covered in about 6 months.

> Registration / updatation is an ongoing process. Local election registration officer will coordinate these activties. One is available in every constituency. Visit www.ceokarnataka.kar.nic.in for contact details.
> Once an application is filed, it needs to be adjudicated within 10 days. Not necessarily happening right now, but efforts are on the way to make it happen.

The project discussed above is already set in motion. << updated >>.

Others who attended (including Murali Sir) please post your notes and pictures!. And correct me if I'm wrong in my understanding.

Thanks,

Ravi

 

Comments

murali772's picture

adding on

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I may be repeating some of the points brought up by Ravi - please bear with me on that.

It didn't require a PRAJA to tell Mr Vidyashankar what needs to be done. He has already figured things out, and started on the process of outsourcing the compiling and maintenance of the voters' list to a professional agency, which has already done enough work in this area. They will operate from a state-of-the-art data centre which is already in place. The pilot for Shantinagar Assembly constituency is almost ready, and will be put on the net for inviting comments from the public in a few weeks. Within a matter of 3 to 4 months thereafter, he hopes to complete the process for all the 224 assembly constituencies in the state. Well, what more can one ask for?

The PRAJA team to meet him comprised Ravi, Anushree, Nidha, Abhilash, apart from me. We were ushered in promptly at 11 AM. I gave a brief introduction of PRAJA, which was not totally necessary since he seemed to know enough about us, particularly being a techie himself, which was indeed flattering. I stressed the fact that PRAJA strives to provide a platform for youngsters who, while busy building their careers, are also keen to contribute to finding solutions for the various civic issues. And, with their not being burdened with old baggages, perhaps will come up with effective solutions for problems that the older lot have been carrying on a losing battle against from decades. I added that apart from Ravi and me, the others in the team were visiting a government office, and having the privilege of meeting such a senior official at that, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

The outsourcing contract with the private agency is for a period of 5 years, during which period they will train the SEC staff to undertake the task themselves, thereafter.

Even as we were in the meeting, an assistant brought the compilation of data on the day to day issual of EPID cards. It was just 6006 for yesterday over 21 centres spread across the city. Mr Vidyashankar stated that even during week-ends, it did not rise much above this level, even with their announcing that the card will be made compulsory for future elections. He lamented this kind of an apathy amongst the public. We intervened to say that the apathy may partly be due to the system being seen as non-professional, and, with it now being set right, perhaps that outlook will change. We further added that PRAJA will work towards bringing about that change.

When asked if the system is being integrated at a national level, he stated that his priority is to put his own house in order first. Hopefully, that will become a model for the rest of the country to follow, and integration will result out of that. Admittedly, there remain problems resulting out of 'transliteration' from English to Kannada and vice versa. He is looking for appropriate software which will do the job properly ensuring that a North Indian surname like Chugh remains Chugh (and not Chugha as at present in the Kannada list) both in the Kannada list as well as in the English list.

Mr Vidyashankar being the Principal Secretary, DPAR (dept of Public and Administrative Reforms), in addition, we asked him if he could suggest any role PRAJA could play in bringing about the much needed reforms in day to day governance. He responded saying that he considered the earlier BATF (that existed during the S M Krishna government times) model a fiarly good one for such interface between the government and the people, and perhaps we should work towards reviving that (I will add my comments on that separately).

All in all, it was a very positive experience. With people like Mr Vidyashankar and Mr Praveen Sood up there, and the energy of the youth behind it, perhaps PRAJA can begin to contribute to making a diffrence.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
Gautamrao's picture

Good work

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I must commend you on the efforts that you have put in towards the goal. I don't know whether it is right on my part to add a suggestion. How about using biometrics in the entire process of electoral registration, list and ID cards? That will eliminate bogus voting.
anusree.kailash's picture

excellent experience

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Meeting with Chief Electoral Officer

This was my first foray into a government office to meet a government official for discussion. I must say that me and my friends feel very much encouraged by this meeting to put in our efforts to a better future for this city. There are committed and tech-savy people as a part of our government! He was courteous and he listened to every point we wanted to bring up and went about addressing them appropriately. The take-away for me was that when we approach an official with a problem statement, it makes a lot of difference to have suggestions and support to offer. Perhaps that made a big difference in how our meeting with Mr. Vidyashankar. Even we get tired of listening to people cribbing without end, don't we?

Mr. Murali and Mr. Ravi have already covered all the points made at the meeting. One more point is that Mr. Vidyashankar came up with a really interesting suggestion regarding the issue discussed here:

http://praja.in/bangalore...

Abhilash asked him whether he has any suggestions which we can take up for this case. He promptly suggested that we ask for a clause which requires the contractor tarring the road to maintain it for say five years as well (until its time to tar the roads again). I think thats a brilliant idea because there would be someone really responsible and accountable for a road at any point of time.

He felt that regular meetings (once in 3 months) with all the officials concerned would really be effective in bringing about the change. I feel that this will also bring it to notice that citizens here are watching closely and demanding results. 

I for one, am driving some initiatives at my office so that, people get to know what exactly to do and where exactly to go to get their names in the voters list, and to make it simpler for them to do so. Tomorrow I am having a meeting with the Corporate Social Responsibility team of my office to get this realized. Simple initiatives like a ready-reckoner in our office Intra-web may help get the notice of all the people in my office. Also, I will be looking at how the Forms can be collected at office by a team of volunteers and submitted as a batch.

We need to put in our full support for the government so that our apathy does not hinder the progress in our country. I urge each one of you reading this to get creative and find ways to support our people with the Voting process. Now, though the elections are not coming soon, we can cause inclusion of people into the electoral list so that when the elections do come up and the Voter ID cards are mandatory to vote, the process is smooth. If you are reading PRAJA, chances are that you already do your bit around you, but lets spread the work. We are not alone in seeking to do our bit. There are people around us who want to. We can just speak to them and ask a simple question "Would you like to get involved?". My way of looking at it is, unless I ask, there is no possibility at all of them saying "Yes". And for that possibility, hearing a "No" doesn't matter, because there is nothing lost. :D Lets get them involved. Together we can achieve greater heights. 

Tried to upload a picture here. All pictures at the following link:

http://picasaweb.google.c...

 

"Seek not to find who you are, but to determine who you want to be. Stop looking for a purpose as to why you are here. Create it. Life is not a process of discovery but a process of creation."

silkboard's picture

awesome notes

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Looks like you guys had a very nice meeting. Thanks for for posting detailed reports on the meeting. Was hoping to see some pictures as well.

Since Mr Vidyashankar heads DPAR, and since central government's DPAR runs a online public grievance system,will we be right in asking him if our state govt can do similar and start an online greivance system. It'll be a sort of virtual "janata darshan", and won't work if it gets over-used for frivolous purposes, but I wanted to see his opinion on this.

Here is the intro note on website of DPAR Karnataka. Read the second point (#b) in there:

All matters concerning the process of Administration with a view to increase efficiency and bring improvement in the quality of work in every sphere of administration

Sounds interesting, isn't it!? In reality, it'd be hard for one department to bring big changes. But DPAR could be a good body for us to interact with, we could learn and understand a few things there.

tsubba's picture

thanks

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folks thanks for the awesome reports. look slike you guys had a lot of fun. awesome.
ammu's picture

Great work!!

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Way to go! It was great to read the initiative taken and also the warm response from Mr. Vidyashankar must be a real motivation for future . Just wanted to say a word of appreciation for the selfless service you guys do for the benefit of all of us..proud of guys like you..
Ravi_D's picture

Inspiring Response from Mr Vidyashankar

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Just 2 hours after we met with him, received an email follow-up. Read it here for yourself. Can't help but think of a day when the entire bureaucracy acts similar!

CEO's contact details:

email: ceo.karnataka a gmail d com

website: www.ceokarnataka.kar.nic.in

I'm sure Praja members understand this very well, but just as a reminder, please use your judgement and due constraint while initiating any communication.

>>>>

From: Chief Electoral Officer Karnataka
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2008 11:36 AM
To: Ravindra D
Subject:
Re:

Dear Mr.Ravindra,

Greetings and a very Good Morning.

Please go ahead and post our website details and email on Praja. After all, we are here to be as people friendly as possible.

Wish you all the very best.

Regards,

M.N. Vidyashankar,
CEO & E/o Principal Secy. to Govt.,
DPAR (Elections)
Old KGID Building,
Cubbon Park,
Bangalore 560001
Ph: 080-2286 4401
Fax: 080-2286 9322

 

On 19/08/2008, Ravindra D wrote:

Dear Mr Vidyashankar,

I should reciprocate and thank you for your time. The meeting was a pleasant surprise. It was indeed very cordial, informative and unlike any I expected of a meeting with a high ranking officer.

Thank you also for all the good work you and your organization have put in for all of us, the people of the state.

Would it be appropriate to post your email (below) on Praja? I think it would be very motivating for the members to read such a response from an officer we met a couple of hours ago!.

Regards,

Ravi

 

From: Chief Electoral Officer Karnataka
Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 2:22 PM
To: Ravindra D
Subject:

Dear Mr Ravindra,

Greetings

It was indeed a pleasure meeting with you. We are doing our best to ensure that we introduce transparency and accountability, to the maximum possible extent. The first of the attempts taken up as a pilot in Shantinagar Assembly Constituency has since been completed. It should go live in about a fortnight's time. Once we get a feedback on the Shantinagar experiment from all the concerned stakeholders, we will replicate it in the remaining Assembly Constitutencies in the State. Please feel free to get in touch with us in case you want any further information.

Regards,

M.N. Vidyashankar,
CEO & E/o Principal Secy. to Govt.,
DPAR (Elections)
Old KGID Building,
Cubbon Park,
Bangalore 560001
Ph: 080-2286 4401
Fax: 080-2286 9322

[PS: email ids obfuscated to prevent spamming. Spam robots have been caught prowling our website {blr_editor}]

murali772's picture

admirable

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Mr Vidyashankar and I also exchanged mails more or less on similar lines. Admirable for an official at that level to be responding individually. 

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
ishwar.shastri's picture

ಮಾನ್ಯ

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ಮಾನ್ಯ ವಿದ್ಯಾಶಂಕರರವರ ಜೊತೆಗೆ ನಡೆದ ತಮ್ಮ ಚರ್ಚೆಯು ಫಲ ಪ್ರದವಾಗಲೆಂದು ಆಶಿಸುತ್ತಾ ರವಿಯವರ A private company with plenty of experience is entrusted with this work.ಎಂಬ ವಾಕ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಪ್ರತಿಕ್ರಿಯಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ.ಇದು ನಾನು ಪ್ರಜಾಕ್ಕೆ ಬರೆಯುತ್ತಿರುವ ಮೊಟ್ಟ ಮೊದಲಿನ ಪತ್ರ
ಸರಕಾರವು ಪರಿಣತರಿಗೇ ಕೆಲಸವನ್ನು ಕೊಡಬಹುದು. ಸರಕಾರದ ಕೆಲಸದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಂಟ್ರಾಕ್ಟ್ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳುವನೇ ಬೇರೆ. ಕೆಲಸಮಾಡುವವನೇ ಬೇರೆ. ಉದಾ: ರಸ್ತೆ ಕಸಗುಡಿಸುವುದು. ಶೌಚಾಲಯಗಳ ಉಸ್ತುವಾರಿ. ಟೆಂಡರ್ ಪಡೆದಾತ ಹಣಮಾಡಿಕೊಂಡು  ಅವುಗಳನ್ನು ಬೇರೆಯವರಿಗೆ ಮಾರಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಾನೆ.

ದಾಖಲಾತಿ ಸಂಗ್ರಹವು ರಸ್ತೆ ಕಸವನ್ನು ಎತ್ತಿದಷ್ಟು ಸುಲಭವಲ್ಲ. ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಬುಡಮಟ್ಟದ ಕೆಲಸಗಾರನಿಗೂ ತಾನು ಏನು ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ಏಕೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ.ಇದರ ಪರಿಣಾಮ ಏನು ಇತ್ಯಾದಿಗಳಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕನಿಷ್ಟ ಮಟ್ಟದ ಮಾಹಿತಿಯಾದರೂ ಇರಬೇಕಾದದ್ದು ಅತೀ ಅವಶ್ಯಕ.
ಇದಕ್ಕೆ ಉದಾಹರಣೆಯಾಗಿ ನನಗೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕ ತಾಜಾ ಮಾಹಿತಿಯನ್ನು ಪ್ರಜಾಕ್ಕೆ  ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ಕಳೆದವಾರ ಉತ್ತರ ಕನ್ನಡ ಜಿಲ್ಲೆಯ ಸಿರಸಿಗೆ ಹೋಗಿದ್ದೆ. ಅಲ್ಲಿ ರೇಶನ್ ಕಾರ್ಡ ವಿತರಿಸುವಸಲುವಾಗಿ ತಹಶೀಲ ಆಪೀಸಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಫೋಟೋ ಪ್ರೋಗ್ರಾಮ್  ಭರದಿಂದ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತಿತ್ತು. ಒಬ್ಬರ ಹೆಸರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಎರಡು ಹೆಂಡಿರ ಹೆಸರಿತ್ತು. ಹೆಂಡತಿಯ ಜೊತೆಗ ಮಗಳ ಹೆಸರನ್ನೂ ಹೆಂಡತಿ ಎಂದೇ ದಾಖಲಿಸಿದ್ದರು. ಅದು ಅಂತಃ ವಿಶೇಷವಲ್ಲ. ವಿಷೇಶ ಎಂದರೆ- ಫೋಟೋ ಜೊತೆಗೆ ಸಂಬಂದ ಪಂಟ್ಟವರ ಹೆಬ್ಬೆಟ್ಟಿನ ಗುರುತನ್ನೂ ಸ್ಕ್ಯಾನ್ ಮಾಡಿ ಧಾಖಲಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು.(ರೇಶನ್ ಕಾರ್ಡ್ಗೆ ಫೋಟೋ ಓಕೆ, ಹೆಬ್ಬೆಟ್ಟು ಯಾಕೆ? Smile) ಆ ಸ್ಕ್ಯಾನ್ ಮಶಿನ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ಏನು ದೋಶವಿತ್ತೋ ಗೊತ್ತಿಲ್ಲ. ಕೆಲವು ಬೆರಳನ್ನು ಸ್ಕ್ಯಾನ್ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿತ್ತು. ಕಲವರದ್ದನ್ನು ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಇಂತಃ ಸಂದರ್ಭಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಅಲ್ಲಿಯ ನಿರ್ವಾಹಕನೇ ತನ್ನ ಹೆಬ್ಬೆರಳನ್ನು ಸ್ಕ್ಯಾನ್ ಮಾಡಿ ಇವರ ದಾಖಲಾತಿ ಕೆಲಸವನ್ನು ಬೇಗ ಬೇಗ  ಮುಗಿಸಿ ಮುಂದಿನವರನ್ನು ಕರೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದನಂತೆ . ಫೋಟೋ ಒಬ್ಬರದು ಹೆಬ್ಬೆಟ್ಟು ಒಬ್ಬರದಾದರೆ-ಮುಂದಿನ ದಿನಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಅದು ಎಂತಹ ಅನಾಹುತಗಳಿಗೆ ಕಾರಣವಾಗುತ್ತದೆಯೋ ಊಹಿಸಲೂ ಸಾಧ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲ.

ಡಾ. ಈಶ್ವರ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿ ಮೋಟಿನಸರ

ಡಾ. ಈಶ್ವರ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿ ಮೋಟಿನಸರ
anusree.kailash's picture

Probably the first time in Karnataka...

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... such a drive has been set in motion for a Voter Initiative in a corporate office (Sasken Communication Technologies Ltd.). With the support from the Chief Electoral Officer, the Vote De India team and the Corporate Social Responsibility Team at my office, I have been able to organise a drive at my office to get my colleagues and their families included in the voters list. The drive lasts till Friday 12th September.

Previously, such efforts were met with the difficulty of getting the each of the ERO officers to accept forms in bulk for employees in an organization. This sort of collection and submission of Forms from Corporate Offices is now possible due to the interest and support shown by Mr. Vidyashankar who has taken on communicating with the concerned ERO offices to collect the specific number of forms from the volunteers. With such a structure in place, other organizations and Tech Parks will quickly follow suit. 

 This initiative was triggered off from this meeting we had with Mr. Vidyashankar. An enthusiastic response is seen with the amount of queries coming in.

 

"Seek not to find who you are, but to determine who you want to be. Stop looking for a purpose as to why you are here. Create it. Life is not a process of discovery but a process of creation."

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