SWAGAT is an earliest model in e-governance, transparency and e-accountability
A prime illustration of Narendra Modi’s approach to governance is SWAGAT (State-Wide Attention on Grievances by Application of Technology). SWAGAT was introduced at a time when the digital revolution was still in its infancy. As Gujarat chief minister, Modi perceived the potential of technology to revolutionise governance and implemented the programme to cater to citizens’ needs.
On the fourth Thursday of every month, the Gujarat government would sit specifically to resolve citizens’ complaints. The CM would interact with applicants, and district and sub-district officers attended the programme via video conference. The structure also incorporated three additional levels of governance — district, taluka and gram — all working cohesively.
At the core of this approach is a steadfast commitment to transparency and accountability. Through SWAGAT, an accessible platform for citizens to voice their grievances, ensuring that government actions are held up to the light of public scrutiny, was set up. This nurtured trust between the government and the people. Not only was the problem heard but a way out was also suggested and then tracked, establishing an end-to-end solution mechanism.
The focus on prompt grievance resolution highlights the value of timely action. By establishing clear deadlines and ensuring government officials’ accountability, Modi set a precedent for future feedback mechanisms, a feature now evident in nearly all of GoI’s flagship programmes. These are tangible deliverables that are carefully monitored not only by officials but also by citizens themselves.
This methodical approach contributed to the institutionalisation of the entire practice. Even nine years after Modi left the Gujarat administration to lead the nation as prime minister, the practice has not only endured in the state but continues to thrive. It has addressed around 5.6 lakh grievances with a 99.91% success rate.
SWAGAT especially proved to be a boon for the most marginalised. Their long-pending grievances were resolved by the top leadership and administration. In one instance, homeless tribal families were anxiously waiting for 42 houses to be built through a government scheme. Although payments had been made to the contractor, the construction work remained incomplete.
When it came up for review through SWAGAT’s intervention, immediate relief was provided to the complainants. The nodal officers involved were reprimanded, and the contractor was blacklisted to prevent it from receiving any future contracts. With a system in place that encompassed all levels of government, the matter was provided with a one-stop solution.
The ‘whole-of-government’ approach, evident in SWAGAT, fostered cooperation and coordination among various government agencies, breaking silos.
By bridging the gaps between different tiers of administration, the entire machinery of governance works in unison to address the needs of the people. The success of SWAGAT has inspired similar initiatives across the nation, showcasing Modi’s ability to create scalable models that can be easily replicated.
When elected to power at the Centre, Modi established PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation) on similar lines. Almost every month, the prime minister sits with the multiple stakeholders of various projects and takes stock of the projects with a 360-degree lens, including communication he has received from the people on the project. All the officers are able to track the projects that would be picked up during the meeting and provide complete information on their status.
Again, the platform deploys digital tools such as digital data repository, video conferencing and geospatial technology to identify any gaps in project implementation and plug them with speedy intervention. Till now, 328 projects with a total cost of Rs. 15.82 lakh crore have been reviewed.
Today, improved coordination between different levels of government, accelerated project implementation and the incorporation of technology and feedback loops as essential components of government initiatives are evident. Most importantly, such an approach has helped shape the government’s priorities, placing people at the very core of decision-making.
This is why SWAGAT has been recognised internationally and nationally, receiving the UN’s public service award in 2010, and the National e-Governance Award in 2013 during UPA rule. It has become a global case study for IT-based grievance redressal mechanisms. Even more satisfying is the fact that it has helped the common man get justice at no cost and time, and it’s the earliest model in e-governance, transparency and e-accountability that has worked for the last 20 years.
The writer is the Minster of Energy and Urban Development, Government of Uttar Pradesh.
Author: AK Sharma
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