Mobile Solution in Social Inclusion
This session was dedicated to very sophisticated yet interesting subject of mobile solutions in social inclusions. Mr. Ashis Sanyal, Former, Senior Director, DIT & Independent Information Technology & Services Professional chaired the session, along with the presence of juror expert Mr. Rajen Varda Founder & Director, TFTP.
Mr. Sanyal in his opening remarks outlined the role of social and financial inclusion in the development of India and as to how mobile solution could make a difference in implementation of these schemes like Public Distribution System. He also told that entrepreneurs should be encouraged with the fact that commercial viability of this industry is great and number of mobile phone users is increasing every day. For him the baseline is to make rural people a partner in the development of mobile technology and we will surely emerge as a great power.
First panelist for the session was Mr. Sandeep Nath, Value Added Product Development Indian Grameen Services (IGS), Bihar. Mr. Sandeep introduced IGS as a part of Basix Labs. The company SabK is a subsidiary of Basix and has commercialized the product popularly known as a transaction platform. SabK has developed a service to provide banking facilities to villages with population less than 1000 and at a price less than 1000 paisa.
He shared that initially SabK had started with core banking services. This is being done with the help of existing provision storeowners in these villages as they have substantial amount of footfall. Thus they act as bank agents and are in a position to provide these services to people. With the help of this, villagers can do financial transactions for an amount as small as INR 1000. These outlets are called Basic Convenience Outlets (BCOs). BCOs use voice biometric authentication device or a finger biometric authentication present at these outlets for identification. Whenever a consumer makes any transaction through any of these, he gets a receipt for his transaction instantly. Mr. Nath is very keen to apply the same service to more and more areas of interest for farmers and villagers.
Next panelist on the dice was Mr. Subhi Quraishi, Integrated MFI-LifeLine Mobile Platform ZMQ Development services, Gurgaon. He shared that their company has been active in developing lot of applications for village communities and other social enterprises. He presented one of his products: Micro Finance Integrated Lifeline mobile platform. The product aims at providing both financial and non-financial services to the rural people. At MFI Lifeline, they now study these networks (Asha Workers, Micro Finance institutions etc.) and develop solutions as per their needs.
Mr. Quraishi strongly believes that the main reason for all the turmoil in the industry is due to the fact that financial services would not be successful if provided in isolation. These services need to be coupled up with lifeline services such as healthcare services, educational services, entrepreneurship development opportunities etc. And this ideology is at the core of MFI. Currently working with two micro finance organizations, one in Uttar Pradesh and one in Rajasthan, MFI has over 150,000 customers. Out of these around 26000 are using their lifeline services. These services have apps and games based on healthcare, education, women empowerment etc. The scope of MFI looks immense both for company and for customers.
Next speaker for the session was Mr. A. V. V. Prasad, A.P Smart Card Project Commissioner of Rural Development, Andhra Pradesh. Mr. Prasad presented his work on the project of Andhra Pradesh Government that deals with making payment to the NREGA workers in the remote areas. He shared that this last mile distribution project works on business correspondence model and involves as many as 12 banks and 8 service providers. Each service provider has appointed its representative in his or her respective villages. These representatives are usually the educated people of the villages’ self help groups.
The government department appoints a bank to make payments, which in-turn appoints service providers for them. These service providers, as mentioned earlier have their representatives in villages; that are responsible for registration of workers in the villages. After the registration, smart cards are being issued to all the beneficiaries or recipients of the payments. From govt. all the payments are then released and these are forwarded to banks. They then forward the required amounts to their service providers, who through the network of their representatives distribute these payments to their recipients. With both mobile and voice based models, the Andhra Govt. has established itself in this area of mobile inclusion.
People who like to serve a cause don’t care about the place they are living. This holds true for our next presenter Ms. Elisa Makinen, Impulse Case Info Centre, who is in India since many years, away from her hometown in Finland just to serve the victims of human trafficking. She was here to present her project of Impulse Case Info Centre. Impulse is a NGO working in Meghalaya, India.
We all know how heinous crime child abuse is, but we seldom do something about it. Even when the victims are rescued from these traps, no one cares about their rehabilitation. This has been Impulse’mission since last few years in the northeastern parts of India.
The Meghalaya model of Impulse involves participation of different stakeholders ranging from police to the policy makers. They rescue trafficked children, provide for their rehabilitation and prosecute the offenders. Case Info Centers have an important role to play in this model. As and when the workers at Impulse are being informed of a case of trafficking, they immediately report to police. Then they visit the village of victim and try and collect more and more information possible. This is being recorded at the Centre. All stakeholders are being constantly informed about the progress of case and info is received from them accordingly. Though the Impulse has been successful in creating huge awareness about child or human trafficking, Elisa tells that it is the contribution of the stakeholders that does the trick.
The final presenter for the session, Mr. Arun Mehta, BAPSI, has a special bond with children; and not only children but with differently abled children. He shared that the need of the hour is to develop some kind of services for these children with special needs. This becomes even more difficult given the dearth of quality software writers. To add the woes of these children, most of the times they belong to poor families, which are in no position to spend on custom software for their children.
Only solution for this problem comes in form of free software and very cost effective hardware. At BAPSI, Mr. Mehta’s team has developed a platform known as SKID (special kid) which helps to prepare custom based software for children with special needs very easy. Last year he combined this platform with Android and since then the product has reached great amplification. Sadly they haven’t been able to find much response from such children, but he hasn’t lost hopes. He believes that technology can make a huge difference and one day this technology would reach every child with special need.