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Bangaloreing voters' list review

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I was quite excited to read the caption 'Voters' list review Bangalored' in your columns this morning (23rd Jan). However, on going through the text, I was disappointed to find that what was proposed hardly amounted to 'Bangaloreing', going by the general understanding of the term. What is proposed is a review by another set of babu's, but from different states, which can have a limited impact, at best.

Indeed, what needs to be done is the proper Bangaloreing of not just the review, but the preparation and maintenance of the voters' list itself. Now, supposing the likes of say an Infosys, Wipro or TCS is entrusted with the job, within a matter of a few months, they will work to ensure an accuracy of even upto 99%, from the less than 50% as existing (as admitted by the State Election Commision itself), contributing greatly to the strengthening of our democratic process.

Organised private sector companies are today being entrusted with far more sensitive jobs, and one fails to see how much more sensitive these kinds of jobs are. Besides, the general public today has far greater faith and confidence in the abilities and integrity of these kinds of companies than they have in most of the government organisations.

In fact, I expect it will not be far off in the future before the equivalents of Election Commissions in the UK and US actually start Bangaloreing these jobs.

The above is the text of the letter sent to editor, TOI, today.

For more, read:


admin's picture

The Election FAQ thread

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Since some good search engine traffic seems to be landing here, here is a request to visitors - please leave any useful information regarding VoterID or elections in this thread: "Elections/voter id FAQ"
murali772's picture

the crying need

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Now, when something as critical as issual of passport, particularly in today's terrorism-threatened world, can be outsourced (, why not the preparation and maintenance of voters' list, as also issual of voter ID cards?

Today's inaccuracy levels of the order of over 50% across the country (as admitted by the EC itself), is causing serious subversion of the democratic process even at the very first stage itself, apart from posing a serious threat to national security.

Correction of this anomalous situation has to be the first priority of the country if it wants to call itself a democracy.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

outsourcing - clearly the way forward

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While helping my m-i-l to apply for a UK family visitor visa, I notice that a large part of the preliminary work has been outsourced to a commercial company - VFS Global, who go about the job in a most professional way. A friend whose daughter took up a job in the UK recently tells me that as a part of the process of checking her credentials, the agency sent its people to physically verify all particulars with some three neighbors. That's the thoroughness with which they undertake the job. Compared to that, I suppose I don't need to elaborate on how the police goes about the job here.

There needn't be a debate any more - outsorcing (to professional agencies) is very clearly the way forward

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

VFS Global - works for foreign principals

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Mr Murali,

Though yr point is well taken, VFS in India, a part of the VFS global network is appointed & paid for by foreign principals, who will not stand any nonsense nor will compromise it's working to suit politicians or bearucarts needs, like our systems do !

silkboard's picture

Naveen, having said that

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Naveen, having said that, not sure if you read recently about (I think) vodafone cutting off Pranab Mukherjee's phone connection due to large unpaid bill amount :)

That would take us into the decade old privatization debates :), but outsourcing is a bit different. There is no well accepted definition around, but outsourcing is generally defined as sub-contracting of functions via well laid out contracts about quality and payments without giving any larger decision making authority about the business itself to the external parties. Outsourcing is usually done for non-core functions, drivers for doing it are cost advantage and efficiency via tapping onto expertise of specialists.

Hoever, one thing different regarding outsourcing for govt orgs would be - What is core and non-core? One side extreme view would be that the only core function govt bodies should hold on to is - regulation and monitoring. Why not outsource the rest? Many would say no, a lot more things could be core for govt orgs. Regardless, there are no strong argument against outsourcing the acceptably non-core functions towards the bottom of govt value chain.

Many confuse outsourcing with privatization or deregulation, like it happened in case of JUSCO at Mysore. Or would happen in Bangalore if BMTC website and IT operations were outsourced to :) Kidding.

Any which way, outsourcing is a bit different deal for governments, and that is why big name analyst firms in outsourcing world have been tracking govt outsourcing separately from non govt sectors.

idontspam's picture

Sourcing and core Vs non-core

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 Outsourcing is usually done for non-core functions

Bharti Airtel outsources every key core function imaginable and it has been able to achieve scales very few have. 

Visa issuance is a core function of an embassy, VFS has shown it is possible to handle critical core functions.

Passport issuance is the core function of the passport office but the tactical activities are outsourced.

IT services is the core function of IT service companies, but I have seen that being subcontracted tactically as well due to non availability of skills.

Strategic sourcing is the key. Core as a definition is also relative.

Ticketing is a core function of the admin team in our office but that is outsourced. It is not the core function of the company nevertheless.

Is building viaducts/tunnels/tracks and running trains core functionality of BMRC? How come they use external help to build? How come other countries use consessionaires to operate the trains & maintain tracks?

Is providing bus services core government functionality or core BMTC functionality? If core BMTC functionality how come they buy buses from Tata, AL, Volvo and not build it themselves? By extension why do they have to operate it as well?

Naveen's picture

An Inappropriate example

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Nobody denies that outsourcing or privatization can be beneficial & efficient. I was just pointing out that the example quoted for supporting the idea was inappropriate since the firm was being employed by foreign principals for services, & not by our own govt or police, that's it.

I wish to restate what I had already mentioned previously :

"The use of competitive mechanisms is underdeveloped, as is the reliance on private sector funding & the know-how. In fact, it is limited to outsourcing of some bus services, contract-based street maintenance, & a budding effort to charge for on-street parking (this last has also been suspended during the last few years, further encouraging the use of private modes for commuting)".

The process for outsourcing various services has commenced, but clearly, there is resistance by many - politicians, bearucrats, & general public too since many are less aware of the benefits, though this trend appears to have begun changing slowly now. Telecom, Insurance & Banking stand out as examples as do TV & Hospitality. As mentioned by Murali, passport services have improved too with outsourcing.

With the likes of BMLTA, this process can gain pace even in transportation.

idontspam's picture

Circle of governance

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Governments primary purpose is to understand the countries internal and external situation and define policies which can be implemented by various administrative officers. These officers in turn are expected to identify the best way in which the policies and desicions of the government can be implemented.

Nowhere does it say they have to hire and do it themselves. There may be situations where advantages of sourcing can be leveraged and also benefit a larger cause. These decisions require these officers to understand the larger picture and do it in the best way possible. This is why the administrative services entrance tests are not exactly trivial and tests all faculties of the person getting into it.

Most officers arent as dumb as we make it out. Its the very same teams that their predecessors built that dulls their effectiveness. It is called the "system" and is a cultural issue. Its so easy for themselves to get into it as well and most fall prey. How do we come out of it? Change. Change the way things are done. Fresh faces , hands and feet will get rid of deadwood if not anything else. Maybe after a few generations they can begin to insource for the next cycle of clearing. 

Elton John called this the circle of life. Lets not make it a straight line to destruction.

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