Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Blog Past: India needs Open Government

September 11th, 2011 · No Comments

I had attended Gov 2.0 last September. Here is one of the ideas I wrote about after the conference:

1.       India needs to embrace the open government and open data movement.

When President Obama took over in January 2009, he issued the Open Government and Open Data directive. The focus was on making government more transparent, accountable, collaborative and participative. One outcome is that government departments are making available their raw datasets on a common portal to be accessible by citizens and developers.  The result is the Data.gov portal.

What this does is to get more people involved in looking at the data and creating apps and websites that present the data in a more analysable format – rather than relying on government bureaucrats to determine what is important. Mashups across departments create for deeper insights into the workings of the government, leading to faster and smarter decisions.

What is really needed in India is to make all government data (except that which involves the privacy of an individual or national security) open and accessible to all.  This approach is the opposite of the thinking behind RTI (Right to Information). In India, the government jealously guards data and treats it as its private property. RTI is a lever to pry some of the data out of the hands of the government but the maintained assumption is that the data is unavailable to citizens in general.

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