Mission Jagruti banks on SMS from villagers

Kumar Anand

If a resident of a village in Narmada district faces delay in the arrival of subsidised rations in Fair Price Shop, he can simply take out his mobile phone, type "ration not arrived in shop", along with the name of his taluka and send an SMS to 99-04-70-55-55. His complaint will be codified by a team sitting at the district headquarters on the basis of which of the 15 government departments it concerns. The SMS will be then forwarded to a server, from where the complainant will get an acknowledgment SMS containing registration number that he can use to check his complaint status.

But given that the tribal-dominated district bordering Maharashtra has low mobile phone penetration - only around 40,000 out of the 5.9 lakh population own a mobile phone of their own — the person registering his complaint may have borrowed the mobile phone of his fellow villager for the purpose or have called in a volunteer to help him out.

While the ambitious initiative of the district collectorate, called "Mission Jagruti," depends heavily on the use of mobile phone by the citizens, phone penetration, poor network connection in remote regions, and lack of understanding on how to use the system pose a challenge to district officials who are now making an extra effort to get the initiative working. They are also changing the way it functions to suit the need of the tribal citizens.

While citizens were earlier required to send SMS along with one of the 170 codes formulated for the purpose, such as "DelayFPS" which stands for problem of delay in a fair-price shop, the codification is now done by a trained team which does so based on the nature of the complaint. Also, a team of volunteers are being trained across the district who could help people without a mobile phone in registering complaints.

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