There is enough data available to make policies effective and politics cleaner ⁠— and India's vibrant startups can help

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  • A series of political innovations will not just help sustainable economics and new age digital brands foster in India but they will ensure a sustainable model of policymaking is possible.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can be adopted to provide non-partisan data-centric governance recommendations for Parliamentary Standing Committees.
  • Political start-ups should make their constituents the people they serve rather than political industrial complexes that cater to a select coterie.
Rains have taken the financial capital by storm only to remind us of the historic deluge in 2005, but our national capital is yet to convene for the monsoon session of Parliament.

It is expected to begin from September 14 (in order for the Parliament to be in compliance with Article 85 of the Constitution, the Parliament needs to convene before 23 September for the monsoon session).

The COVID-19 pandemic has made technology indispensable. From leveraging technology to drive businesses, this pandemic has guided us to use technology to sustain businesses. This shift towards an increased reliance towards tech-enabled business models is in sync with the digitisation push of the government.

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Policymaking go virtual or “phygital”

A ‘Digital India’ is emerging that is creating records in uncharted territories. Though these digital feats are another feather in India’s decorated cap, these digital realities create their own rules as public policy is not clearly defined when it comes to technology, digital geographies and data privacy.

With these dualities in sight I believe that a series of political innovations will not just help sustainable economics and new age digital brands foster in India but they will ensure a sustainable model of policymaking is possible – one that is sanitized, secure and accountable (even in the time between two elections).

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Technology can help manage constituencies better

Between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official app to Aarogya Setu (the government’s COVID-19 tracker) to an app dedicated to farmers and many more such platforms, there is enough data on the citizens, which is at the government’s disposal. This becomes an empowering force that elected representatives (and other relevant institutions) can use to understand constituents’ needs and preferences, just the way businesses use data to understand the customers’ needs.

Such digital solutions have the capacity to augment effective resource allocation, ensure compliance and use real-time constituency data to allocate need-based budgets.

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It has to be non-partisan

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can be adopted to provide non-partisan data-centric governance recommendations for Parliamentary Standing Committees, voter turnouts percentages for political parties and other behavioural trends for the Members of Parliament.

This will not only help in efficient impact assessment and analysing constituency data but it will also introduce digital checks to the flow of funds – thereby making public servants accountable to the people of Bharat.

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While the administration can use such information to target solutions, such technology should not be under the control of any single division of the Government in order to ensure that there is a maker-checker mechanism in place. This platform should be non-partisan, though rooted in our cultural ideals and the teaching of the constitution.

Parliamentarians working from home can stay connected with their constituents

With the pandemic forcing politicians to work from home, adoption of such tech-enabled governance measures can create alternative feedback mechanisms that will allow leaders to stay in touch with constituents.

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This, in turn, will not just assist new age voters to retain their faith in the democratic ideals of India (and will drive them to actively participate in nation-building), but will also lay the foundation stone for making policy-making “phygital”.

Here's what policy-makers can learn from start-ups

At a time when India needs clarity more than ever, I believe that policy-making must be rooted in (citizens) data and healthy competition. This competition can be ushered by the growth of political start-ups that can foster innovation.

These political start-ups should make their constituents the people they serve rather than political industrial complexes that cater to a select coterie. You might be thinking that I am talking about the cropping up of a new set-up. Not necessarily. Political intrapreneurs within established political brands can spearhead this by cultivating a culture that is sowing the roots of tomorrow and is action oriented (not just driven by slogans, management skills and digital marketing).
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These political start-ups might be tempted to play the valuations game (in this case the art of corporate donations funding elections); but should refrain from doing so.

A stronger collaboration between the Centre and the States along with capitalising on the vibrant innovative start-up ecosystem that is brewing in India can create sufficient political capital for the future. These political innovations will ensure that India can thrive in the digital economy and will help it to fortify itself from the bear market going forward. And along the way make sure its digital ecosystem is not just tech-enabled, but also accountable.


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