Have you seen the television advertisements? A few village folk are beaming with pride on how they can now see progress of road construction in their village; peering into a smartphone and feeling like, yay, we have real time information on our fingertips. Well, that ad is all over the place. But, if you haven’t noticed, the Government of India has embarked on an ambitious program to appify itself. In short, turn every other citizen service or interface into well, an app.
Its app factory, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), located in Mumbai and Delhi, is churning out five or six apps every month. Read that again: five or six new apps every month.
As the name suggests, C-DAC is the country’s top R&D organization in the field of advanced computing, an agency one doesn’t associate with app making. But the brief was handed to it “from up above”. It was tasked with developing a store platform — Mobile Seva — where small companies and individual developers could showcase their apps and which then expanded to churning out apps.
Now, grab your phone and see how many apps you have. 10? 20? Maybe 30, on the higher side? You get the picture, don’t you? Five to six new apps every month.
It’s happening at a scale so massive that there really is no comparison. Just for perspective, the United States of America has a total of 218 apps in its directory. And the United Kingdom (UK), well, they abandoned native apps in 2012, opting instead for responsive websites (that is, websites that scale and repackage their content automatically to mobile browsers).
But India is going all out on apps.
Given the structure of the government — horizontal at the central level (ministries, departments) and vertical at the state and the local government level — everyone wants to have their say and taking the brunt is the official app-store, Mobile Seva, which now lists nearly 1,000 apps (978 as per the latest update) since its inception in December 2013.
It started in May that year with an Android app called Sikkim CET which was essentially an application for the Common Entrance Test in the state. Two months later, the Ministry of External Affairs released its Passport mSeva app. In November, it released a host of health-related apps. Then the floodgates opened.
These apps range from G2G (Government to Government) to G2C (Government to Citizen), besides what is classified as utility apps (bill payments, speed check and so on).