In India, there are a plethora of government schemes for disadvantaged sections of society. However, being poorly publicized and communicated, these schemes are complex to understand and difficult to apply for. As a result, they often remain unused.
We wondered how we could address this issue and help millions of Indians who still lived in poverty despite the rapid economic growth that India has witnessed in recent years.
Realizing the potential of millions of mobile phones in India that have penetrated most sections of society, we conceived a dream where mobile devices would bring the vast resources of the Indian state to the fingertips of the underprivileged, and change their lives. We named it Haqdarshak.
Haqdarshak is a mobile technology platform to help citizens get access to information and processes involved in obtaining the benefits of government and non-government schemes. We intend to do this through a network of community-based entrepreneurs “Haqdarshaks’’, who will use the platform through a mobile phone or tab in remote locations, door-to-door. The app can work even without Internet connectivity and is multi-lingual to enable greater access and outreach.Haqdarshak works heavily on a partnership basis with community-based channels led by the Haqdarshak as an on-field agent. These would be NGOs, Gram Panchayats, local Government Partners, and Corporate CSR projects and groups.
A sample of our prospective beneficiary is 72-year-old Neera, a widow residing in a village 80kms from Pune with a monthly income of less than 3000/-. She is struggling to make ends meet for her basic needs. Her family stays in Mumbai. We did a pilot in a few villages in khed shivapur to test our mobile platform. We mapped the profiles for the eligibility to schemes for people and told them about the schemes they are entitled to. Neera was entitled to three schemes covering her under Old Age Pension, Widow Pension and National Benefit Scheme with an overall entitlement of 2000/- per month. Her eyes lit up when one of our volunteers told her about the schemes and benefits. He helped her guide through the process and connected her to the block level officer. She intends to use the extra money on better health products and save the rest when her grand-children come back from Mumbai.Neera was part of our pilot along with 200 other families in rural and urban Pune. Just one example of the great benefits of Haqdarshak!
During the last three months (September, October and November) we have been part of the Accelerator Program as the Top 20 in the Innovate for Digital India Challenge. During the three months of the Accelerator, we worked on our MVP, tested it on Intel based hardware (mobile tabs) and planned and executed a pilot to check our proof of concept. As part of the program we also met a number of people ranging from technocrats, bureaucrats, entrepreneurs and investors. The collective wisdom and experience gained in these last three months through these interactions has been equivalent to two years of meetings and interactions!
The Accelerator Phase helped us giveHaqdarshaka makeover not only vis a vis strategy, but also in technology. Intel also played a huge part in the development of our product as we opted to use the powerful Intel® XDK development tool. We discovered the tool was not only fast and efficient for developing mobile applications, but also helped us build a cross-platform solution targeting iOS*, Windows* and Android users alike.
We worked intensely on both our product and on reaching out to our customers on ground and understanding their problems. With the support of CIIE, IIM Ahmedabad, the UC Berkley facilitators, Intel team, mentors and adjuncts, we were able to maintain focus on our goals and hit our timelines.
After eight fruitful weeks, we successfully made it to the Top 10 of the program.We were thrilled! We receivedan additional grant and support from the program in developing our product further and also guidance on our go to market strategy.
As part of the Top 10 of the Innovate For Digital India Challenge, we also met and presented our project to the President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. It was a surreal experience to be able to take our idea to the President and be able to spend time at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Earlier in the morning on the same day, we presented our ideas to the Minister of IT and a host of experts from the industry and the government. The facilitation with the grand entrance, and recognition through the media was truly encouraging and at the same time a humbling experience.
We realize that this is just the start.To be able to live up to the expectations of everyone who have supported us thus far and also to realize our own dreams and visions, we need to work extremely hard and push forward no matter what the next phase has for us. But, with this three-month exhilarating experience, we are sure that we are definitely up and away.We are confident that Haqdarshak will reach to the poorest of the poor in the country and lead to financial and social inclusion.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the participants and do not represent the views of Intel, the Department of Science & Technology and CIIE in any form or matter.