The Janmitra Samadhan Kendra was started in September 2009 in Barai block of district Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. It is an initiative implemented by the District Collectorate of Gwalior and the National Informatics Centre, Gwalior unit. The project was implemented to address two critical challenges of governance in the Indian public administration system. First, the lack of a well-functioning monitoring mechanism to register attendance of government officials and keep a check on their availability to deliver public services under their jurisdiction had persistently led to delay in delivery of services. Second, the process for delivery of services to citizens was highly centralized- even for a service that is to be delivered to a villager, the application for it, in many instances, had to be made at the level of the District Collectorate. This led to a waste of resources and resulted in avoidable delay in time taken to deliver the service.
In order to allay these challenges, the district administration devised a system wherein a biometric-enabled attendance system was introduced that monitors the on-field presence of field level functionaries. Weekly reports are generated by the system for appropriate action by department heads against erring functionaries, thereby paving way for a system to evaluate the latter’s performance. Further, an end-to-end system has been designed for decentralized delivery of select government services. Monitoring Information System data for MGNREGS in the district is now done at the local level, and the data entry operators are resources who are utilized for facilitate government functioning under the JSK initiative as well. The panchayat building is used as the focal point where field level functionaries register their attendance on designated days and time as well as sit for a predefined period of time every day to enable citizens to meet them. The project, therefore, leverages existing resources and infrastructure, bringing down the costs involved in its implementation. Further, capacity building of Panchayat Coordinating Officers, data entry operators and field level functionaries has been undertaken to familiarize them with new procedures introduced under the initiative. Lastly, large scale Information Education and Communication activities were organized for generating awareness among citizens to enable them to better utilize facilities provided.
The JSK is a unique initiative since it does not seek to replace human resources involved with technological mechanisms. Instead, it uses technology to complement the human resources already available. The JSK delivers 76 services in 13 departments through establishment of 48 centres across rural areas in the district. Additionally, 20 centres are operational in urban areas while on centre has been established in the cantonment area. The initiative has brought about extensive savings in terms of time and cost involved in delivering public services to citizens. An effective and inclusive governance model has been put in place, wherein the roles of top and bottom tiers of the government have been redefined. The JSK has led to the empowerment of citizens and enabled them to demand timely services from the government as well as seek accountability and transparency in government functioning.