In June this year, a speed-test app called TRAI-MySpeed was released to the public. It made headlines immediately. For a while, it was one of the most sought-after apps in both Google Play Store and the AppStore, raking in millions of downloads.

Little did anyone notice that it was designed by the C-DAC’s Mobile Seva division, government’s official app factory as we described in yesterday’s story. If you are an iPhone user, you’d have probably noticed Zia Saquib as the developer. Saquib is the executive director of C-DAC, India’s highest computing organization.

It was a roaring success. Users switched from one of the earliest speed-test apps — SpeedTest by Ookla — to the C-DAC’s hit idea. It gained traction because it allowed users to provide direct feedback to the telecom regulator — Trai. They could complain about the speed. What’s not to like? Today, it is one of C-DAC’s flagship apps, and is ranked among the top 350 apps in the Google Play Store, higher than the likes of Swiggy, LinkedIn, Google Now and Quikr.

TRAI-MySpeed

One of C-DAC’s flagship apps, ranked among the top 350 apps in the Google Play Store, higher than the likes of Swiggy, LinkedIn, Google Now and Quikr

You may be tempted to dismiss the TRAI-MySpeed app as a one-off success. But the fact is, that it is the result of the NDA government’s increasingly aggressive push towards mobile apps, which is tied to its high-decibel digital transformation plank. Last year, when it announced the e-Kranti scheme as part of its ambitious Digital India initiative, the message from the government was — Mobile First.

The push to be app first started at the top, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Digital Cabinet, which operates via the Narendra Modi app developed by the BJP. As has been reported, Modi has replaced the weekly cabinet meeting with a private group on his app, where he seeks suggestions from his group of ministers.

His ministers are more than happy to oblige. At the Power Focus Summit earlier this year, power minister Piyush Goyal said: “I am going to turn everything into an app and I am going to allow people to monitor daily what work we are doing, what work states are doing.”

How these apps land in the mega factory is rather streamlined. 

Electronics Niketan, the office of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, where the Mobile Seva division is based

Whichever ministry or department wants an app, it first comes up with an expression of intent, and follows it up with a concept of what they want on the app.

AUTHOR

Venkat Ananth

Venkat is currently in his tenth year in journalism. Prior to The Ken, he was Deputy Content Editor at Mint as part of the newspaper’s digital team. He also wrote in-depth features on the business of sport for the newspaper. His earlier assignments include Yahoo! (as a columnist) and the Hindustan Times, where he began his career. Born in Mumbai, Venkat holds a Bachelor of Mass Media (Journalism) degree from SIES College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Mumbai and a Master of Arts degree in International Studies from Goldsmiths, University of London. He currently resides in New Delhi, where he moved nearly five years ago.

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