Akshaya Common Services
Akshaya Common Services
Information and communication technologies have flooded the broader field of good governance for development through a faster, economical and systematic approach. One of the critical components of good governance is Citizen Empowerment. People and their democratic governance systems stand up together to achieve the benefit of better access to information and services. This would provide a transformative platform for the public and opens up their accessibility to the Government. Kerala is one of the firsts to take the initiative for mass transformation with the implementation of the district-wide e-literacy project called Akshaya with the motto of “Empowering Kerala”. This is one venture that paved the way for Kerala to be the first e-literate state. This article talks about Akshaya Common Services and the various essential aspects of the same.
Akshaya is an ambitious endeavour that was initiated in the State of Kerala in the presence of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on the 18th of November, 2002. The Government of Kerala focussed on the digitisation of the State through the reinvention of service delivery channels. This bought about a revolutionary transformation in the design and the operation of public services within the State. Better opportunities to meet a citizen’s need for increased social inclusion were seen with the emergence of digital organisations to create services.
Akshaya Centres have emerged out to be a success with the most exceptional network of active Common Service Centres that are designed to deliver various Government to Citizen, Government to Business and even, Business to Citizen services to the public under one single solid roof. Currently, there are over 2,650 Akshaya e-Centers throughout the state of Kerala with a minimum of 2 centres in each Panchayat. Akshaya acts a vehicle by digitising people towards an improved quality of life, ease in accessibility to information, complete transparency in governance and overall socio-economic growth.
Akshaya has a strategic mission to transform public services across all sectors of the State of Kerala. Akshaya plays a pivot role as ‘Agents of Change’ for the sustained, socio-economic development through Kerala and the impact of its activities result in enormous gains for public participation and social inclusion.
The following are the critical points of the mission Akshaya works towards to achieve in the State of Kerala.
- To bridge the gap between the “Information Rich” and the “Information Poor”.
- To transform the governance in the State in order to provide efficient, transparent and convenient services for the citizens of the State through Information and Communication Technologies.
- To improve public service delivery by increasing the accessibility of service to the common man in their own locality.
- To bring up the rate of e-literacy in underserved areas and to offer a platform for the “Government to Citizen” services through the advantage of a public-private partnership.
The vision of Akshaya is as follows.
- To achieve 100% social and digital inclusion through the “Connecting the Unconnected”.
- To improve the services at the base of the delivery chain.
- To build collaborative relationships among citizens and other communities.
- To restructure the programs in order to leverage Government assets for the purpose of enhancing the mission productivity.
- To disseminate information to improve public communication and to promote the shared understanding of general issues.
- To strengthen and promote entrepreneurship by means of digital interventions.
The objectives of Akshaya are as follows.
- To harness Information and Communication technologies to build and improve services and in turn, transform the relationship between the Government and the State for the better.
- To have knowledge about the current and future demands for digital skills in the economy. Bridging the gap by identifying the opportunities and risks in addressing digital skills.
- To make sure that the Government succeeds in terms of delivery priorities across the crucial areas of public services.
Around 1000 and more Akshaya centres have been equipped with banking kiosks and micro ATMs in order to offer the complete spectrum of banking and insurance services at the ease of the citizens. This would cater to the villagers and individuals who reside in areas which have a fewer number of banks. Kiosk banks have been designed to be mutually beneficial to Akshaya entrepreneurs, banks and the public. Akshaya centres offer insurance policies to rural citizens through the ownership of about 650 IRDA licenses.
The following services may be requested on the official Akshaya website or at Akshaya Common Service Centres.
- Aadhaar enrolment
- Utility bill payment
- e-District services
- Motor 2 wheeler and 4 wheeler insurances
- Universal Health Insurance
- Personal Accident or Mediclaim Insurance
- Overseas Mediclaim Insurance
- Ration card applications
- Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana / Comprehensive Health
- Insurance Agency of Kerala enrolments
- Motor vehicle license payments
- Labour welfare boards Aadhaar seeding
- SC/ST pre-metric scholarship applications
- Farmer’s data entry
- Commercial tax e-filing
- Pharmacist registrations
- Food Business Operator (FBO) registration
- Kerala Academy for Skills Excellence (KASE) registration
- University Fee Payment
- Haj registration
Impact of Akshaya
The Government services in rural areas are not so accessible and are of lower quality when compared to those in the urban areas. Factors such as the cost of transportation can affect rural service delivery and may impede access and the utilisation of services and information. The very key to democracy is access to information and services. The public access to Government-held information would allow its citizens to understand better the role of the Government and the decisions made on their behalf. The Government of Kerala has initiated an essential stream of studies on this matter which finally led to the implementation of Akshaya. The following are the impacts of Akshaya in various fields.
Socio-Economic Development Tool
Akshaya is a giant leap towards making the Government more accessible to its citizens. It would potentially empower individual citizens by offering them with a responsive channel for accessing services and information as well as interacting with the Government. By reinforcing the monopoly over Government-Citizen relationship with transparency and security, Akshaya e-Centres have made an excellent performance by being the front end delivery network for Government Services.
Citizen Empowerment Tool
Akshaya was envisaged to offer training to at least one member in a family for the purpose of being e-literate. During the rollout period, basic training was provided to the selected individuals to familiarise themselves with the basics and the scope of IT with the support of relevant hands-on. This was the most significant rural e-literacy training project worldwide ever by organising and concluding by the transformation of 32.8 Lakh citizens benefitting from the initiative.
In the State of Kerala, Akshaya is considered the ambassador of the Government for all Aadhaar related issues and assistance provided to the citizens of the State. More than 1.81 Crore citizens have come forward to enrol themselves under the UID with the help of Akshaya Centres in Kerala. The State has opted Akshaya centres as a one-stop service delivery gateway for its people. Being a social partnership business model, Akshaya had proved to be efficient when it handled the Chief Ministers Jana Samparkka Program successfully by delivering end to end service through its broad network of the workforce across the State.
Anti- Corruption Tool
Akshaya is viewed as a positive and authorised channel for e-Governance and for enhancing the trust of the people in the Government through citizen empowerment and governance accountability. Akshaya goes a step forward by curbing corruption which is a governance issue. This is achieved by integrating crucial elements such as access to services and information, capacity building and empowerment. The ability to trace decisions and actions and accountability of the Government can be achieved by increasing the access to information or services and the transparency of rules and their applications in individual choices. Increase in computer literacy, in general, can be achieved through the improved capacity and commitment of resources.
A Social Empowerment tool
Akshaya is a governance tool that creates opportunities for the upliftment of all, especially the weaker sections of the society by fixing accountability in a more efficient way. Therefore, e-government efforts of Akshaya have an impact on gender equality and women’s empowerment. As an unbiased and inclusive government initiative, Akshaya always ensures to give utmost priority to gender equality. The empowerment of women and children is one of the many remarkable achievements of Akshaya by protecting their rights to participate in the information society completely.
A measurement tool for social return on investment
The advent of e-governance with the help of Akshaya has been a significant benefit by turning around the way citizens interact with their Government. Through the Akshaya Centres, the Government empowers its citizens with quick and convenient access to a broad array of services as well as reducing the costs to a great extent.