Akshaya – Empowering People through Information Systems

Sanjay Banerji, Shweta Premanandan

Abstract


This is a story of a determined and discerning individual who has dedicated his life to applying ICT for the welfare of the common man. We have known entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, social entrepreneurs, social workers and Level 5 Leaders, coined by Jim Collins. But to find a combination of all in a bureaucrat in a state government in India is perhaps the last thing one would even dare to dream. We would like to call him a "Burentrepreneur".

Korath took up the challenging role of Director Akshaya, a Government of Kerala department after 20 years in the Indian Army, an MBA degree from Amrita University, an inspiring visit to KODA (NIA), South Korea, and a few years as a consultant. Within a short span of two and half years, he helped increase the average earnings of the 2000 odd Akshaya entrepreneurs multifold, and established Akshaya as the best proactive Citizen Service Center in the country. Korath says, "I have been living on the edge, all these months. It has been a 24×7 task for 365 days in a year."

Korath managed Akshaya on corporate lines. His district coordinators speak of a dashboard that enables them to keep track of around 100 to 200 Akshaya centers in real time. Use of available IT features made such feats possible. Kerala is the first state in India where all commercial taxes are paid on-line (G2B) through the Akshaya centers. Around 30 different government services (G2C) are provided through these centers. One can get his / her UID done, ration card application made, application for a Teacher Eligibility Test filed, register for several central government sponsored insurance schemes, reserve railway tickets etc. Two districts in Kerala have been completely digitized for e-service delivery. In addition, the centers provide opportunities for e-Learning, B2C services, C2C services and G2G services.

The centers provide direct employment to approximately 20,000 citizens in the state. "Punctuality is Progress" is the slogan that Korath had pasted on the wall behind his table. He applied the principles of Business Process Re-engineering, ERP and Cloud Computing. At one stage, he managed the transfer of more than INR 200 million from individuals to the state exchequer within three days, by-passing several procedural requirements at significant personal risk. He developed excellent teams, team-leaders and instilled trust within the organization. He encouraged everybody to think, he gave them the freedom to criticize him openly, but he requested them to cooperate with each other.

Korath believes that his model can easily be replicated all over India. He denies the suggestion that the literacy levels of Kerala enabled him to achieve these results. He quotes data to show that the entrepreneurs’ at the most backward areas of Kerala have been the most successful. He looks forward to roll out similar services all over India.


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