Sunday, July 27, 2014

Technocrat Behind Modi’s Digital Campaign Puts Railways on Track Towards Achhey Din

Published: 27th Jul 2014 

NEW DELHI: He built and fuelled the massive social media campaign for Narendra Modi. Now, Arvind Gupta, head, BJP’s Information and Technology cell, is helping Indian Railways and the central ministries to use technology to improve delivery of services. The 43-year-old technocrat has also been coordinating with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to train officials to use social media platforms effectively.      
An alumnus of IIT-Banaras Hindu University and the University of Illinois, Gupta has his work cut to improve the social media presence of the NDA government and use it to directly connect with people. Within days of taking over the task, Gupta rode the New Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani to check why the much touted wi-fi system onboard failed. The trials of Wi-Fi system on trains started recently on the Rajdhani. Former Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced similar facilities in two Kolkata-bound trains but it failed to take off  due to technical glitches. Gowda in his maiden budget speech has announced reviving the Wi-Fi service in select trains and stations. He has prepared a report to overcome the technical glitches that stalled the pilot project.
Gupta says, “My team is working to set up an IT hub to communicate what government is doing in a real time manner and get live feedback from the people. We are also coordinating with other union ministries to have an effective communication system between the people and the government so that problem areas can be marked and removed in a time bound-manner,” said Gupta, who was consultant to some global IT companies before joining BJP in 2010.
Gupta managed his party’s digital campaign from BJP’s Ashoka Road headquarters where he raised a team of several lakh volunteers to help in the election campaign. Now, he is working to set up an IT hub to communicate the government’s activities in a real time manner and get live feedback from the people. His team would also prepare a mobile application where passengers can immediately lodge their complaints regarding ticketing or food.
Gupta is making a separate team of tech-savvy experts to handle the IT-related work in the government. There are plans to use a range of offline technologies like the Interactive Voice Response system where people can call and register their feedback.
He adds, “For the first time, Railway Ministry gave live updates of Rail Budget on social media platforms and operated a dedicated phone line for people to dial and hear live budget proceedings.” The concept of e-governance was not effectively used in the UPA regime. According to Gupta, efforts are on to implement it in a “coordinated manner” with all ministries and departments on board to use it as a platform to improve governance and address grievances. Gupta’s team is also handling the task of training babus on the use of Twitter and Facebook and how to use it to gauge the mood of the people.
He adds, “This is just the start. There is a long way before we attain what is called ‘digital governance’ in India.

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