Learner’s Submission: Online Public Services in India – Access to Datasets

“A few years back, this would seem distant or impossible to access official data from survey and studies conducted by official agencies. Through national daily – The Hindu, we were introduced to website – data.gov.in. This is Data portal of India.

Constructed on ‘open source’ “Drupal” website design management system Data.gov.in is earliest attempt by Indian authorities to provide access to official data and reports through easy links and downloadable formats. The survey reports are downloadable in .pdf ad .doc format. The datasets from marine and satellite data are accessible are depicted on maps. The maps are clearly marked with indices to help citizens identify and comprehend the complex satellite information being streamed at a delay of 10 minutes. The absence of real time streaming of satellite data in form of radar information along coastline is an improvement expected in coming months. The data relevance is limited to academia, media and study groups working on independent or state funded projects.

Improvements in the datasets are partially controlled by the user. Through ‘contact us’ page, the user may request the particular to provide additional datasets or make certain improvements in the datasets. While sign in and login facility is not available to general users dataset suggestions are considered, according to terms and descriptions provided on the website – data.gov.in.

Partnership with data.gov.in is in form of back-links and utilization of data for purposes which will have to be prior communicated to government through – contact us page. The back-links are easy to use and implement with alternate text and terms of use fully clarified.

As of now only a 4 ministries and few organizations of Union government have been sharing their datasets and apps through the website. Ministry for science and technology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Ministry of statistics and programme implementation, Unique identification Authority of India (UIDAI) are the organizations that have started sharing datasets. Going ahead we personally, feel the Union and state governments should share Public accounts and Union consolidated accounts, expenditure and accrual details of the expenditures and budgetary allocations. The datasets should include appropriations of state , Union government and urban and rural local bodies(functional units of decentralized structures of Indian Polity). Further the assets and liabilities of politicians, candidates standing for election to public offices, assets and liabilities of Public officials and Political executives should be shared and provided open access through the website. The Judiciary of India has to also be open to sharing the assets, liabilities and work details of the judges and advocates who have been employed at the high courts and Supreme Court of India.

As a media professional it’s a pleasure, to know, we no longer have to go through cumbersome processes to access official information. The ease of access to crucial information will ensure our presentations will be devoid of arbitrary conclusions based on assumed information or estimates. The start to this website has been modest, with around few thousand requests per day. The website loading and display is slow and sluggish, probably because of the incubating back end infrastructure. The potential is immense and we are excited and will ensure its improvement.” – Anil Dev Gopalakrishna – Karnataka, India

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