A young team developed an app that not only helps you file complaints but also lets you engage with your netas on a regular basis. Know all about how mobile technology in India is helping citizens connect with their minister.
How well do you know your netas? Apart from what we hear in the news, there is nothing much we know about them, nor do we have a platform to directly engage with them and bring our issues in notice.
Introducing Meri Awaaz, a mobile-first platform that connects citizens with their respective netas and government officials. Meri Awaaz serves as a platform to engage with the minister, ask questions and post complaints further helping them to make a right choice before voting.
Started by a 22-year old entrepreneur, Aditya Nayak, the app was initially launched as a platform to file complaints using your smartphone and report various issues related to sanitation, transportation, water, etc. But gradually, the app transformed into a holistic platform where you can directly interact with your MLAs.
The platform now allows MLAs to connect with their voters, view current issues of their area and engage in local discussions.
Nayak, who has been working with start ups ever since he was 17, has always been inclined towards activism and citizen empowerment, which made him come up with an interesting idea like Meri Awaaz.
“When I first launched this app, it was just an idea. We had no clue on how to turn it into a business. But we believed that if we build something that people need, we can also build a company around it. We cracked the business model in late February and broke even. We ended up creating a system that is a win-win for both MLAs and citizens” says Nayak.
Launched in July 2014, the app already has over 900 downloads and 10 MLAs on board. In the recent Delhi elections, the app was even used by two candidates of a political party.
The app works in an interesting way.
- Users can go to the app and file a complaint choosing the right category.
- The MLAs registered with the app will have access to the dashboard and they can claim a complaint and take ownership of that, giving assurance that he or she will take the responsibility of solving it.
- The MLA also gives an estimated time of completion for a particular task.
“This transparent and open dashboard also acts to build a healthy competition among the MLAs. And, of course, people will take this into consideration while voting,” says Nayak.
The app also has features like candidate report cards, real time discussions, and under-three-second issue reporting. You can follow your constituency’s minister and ask him all the queries before you cast your vote.
Once you click a picture and report an issue, it is automatically routed to the relevant department through the existing legal mechanisms and is also open to the candidates. The candidates can take up the responsibility to get it resolved and the app reflects their actions against their profile on the app. Citizens can also get real time updates of actions taken on the issue and can view its progress through the app.
The for-profit model of the platform makes it self-sustainable. Meri Awaaz charges MLAs for using the dashboard for engaging with the citizens.
“Meri Awaaz makes it efficient and cost effective for netas to connect and engage their voters. When all the candidates who used this platform won, this actually strengthened our belief that people reward good governance, and this could actually work,” says Shashank Gautam, co-founder of Meri Awaaz.
Apart from using the app, people can go further and file complaints using a Whatsapp number, which will further facilitate the engagement.
“We want the MLAs to be accessible and enable people to become a continuous part of the democratic process by making access to people in power as easy as checking Facebook. On the other hand, we want to allow voters to reward the hardworking netas and build a better political climate in general,” says Nayak.
The young team is all set to expand their work but is taking one step at a time. Currently trying to get more MLAs on board, Meri Awaaz seems like an interesting solution to bridge the gap between the government and the citizens.