e-Jaalakam is a Model e-Governance Literacy Project that aims to enhance the capacity of the public to access various online services of the Government. As part of its Platinum Jubilee Celebrations the Department of Economics, St. Teresa’s College launched a project in June 2012 to increase awareness about e-Governance services among public in general and girls/women in particular for promoting citizen’s participation in Governance. The project is implemented with the technical support from Kerala State IT Mission, State e-Governance Mission Team, Kerala and Information Kerala Mission and was implemented partly in association with IT@School Project of Government of Kerala.

Such e-learning initiatives are a prerequisite for enabling the state of Kerala to achieve its vision of being a 100 percent e-literate and digital state. The project assumes added relevance in that it is probably the first such initiative in the whole of India and has the distinction of being implemented in the right state at the right time. With high literacy, hundred percent mobile access, scheduled introduction of 4G which will make e-Services more accessible to the common man and globally recognized programmes like Akshaya and IT@school to address the digital divide in society, Kerala is the one place in the whole of India with ideal conditions needed to initiate such an e-literacy programme.

The project also lays special focus on women and girls since it is observed that men at some stage or the other do access many of the services from various government offices and local bodies. On the other hand most women get bogged down with family obligations, lack of time, social constraints on mobility and depend on male family members to avail of several government services. Ability to tap the benefits of e-Governance initiatives will go a long way in decreasing such dependence and increasing women’s agency.

The Department inculcates a sense of social responsibility among students so that they become socially productive and responsible citizens through innumerable projects and initiatives. The brightest feather in the cap of the Department is the much socially committed project, e-Jaalakam which uses human and technological resources to its fullest efficiency to reach out to the whole society. 

The project has developed and uses the following four training tools:

  1. e-Jaalakam power point presentation which highlights around 45 e-Governance services useful to women provides URLs of these websites and briefs the services under them. These services are arranged in a lifecycle pattern from birth to death enabling access according to requirements at various stages of life.

  2. The e-Jaalakam Pamphlet  which provides URL to around 100  e-Governance services.

  3. e-Mithram - a separate handbook for high/higher secondary school students which includes only services which could kindle their interest.
  4. Vivaranidhi, a citizen’s handbook on e-Governance – aims at enhancing the capability of the public to access various government services which can be availed online. It highlights such services and guides him/her through the various steps he/she has to follow in accessing these. These steps are detailed on the form of simple flow charts which even a layman can follow easily.
  5. Vivaranidhi in Malayalam - In order to spread the e-Governance services among the common people e-Jaalakam team translated Vivaranidhi into Malayalam. This was circulated among the common people to make the access of online services easy.

 

 
e-Jaalakam project evolved overtime, through multiple phases, to the citizen engagement movement that it is at present.
 
Phase I – Genesis of e-Jaalakam (September 2012 - June 2013)
The genesis of e-Jaalakam involved a series of sub phases which included:
  1. A two day workshop on e-Governance was conducted in the college with   support of Kerala State IT Mission and State e-Governance Mission Team, Kerala in September 2012 during which 20  student volunteers were groomed to be e-Governance Master Trainers. 
  2. Newly generated awareness of award winning e-Governance projects such as Sevana - civil registration - led the department to undertake some research on its implementation in the state in general which in turn revealed that despite its wide implementation and success in registration, very few people had accessed the certificates online.
  3. These findings prompted trail awareness sessions for faculty and students in the campus, feedback from whom indicated that it was indeed a very useful programme. This imparted confidence to venture into the next phase focused on learning to access greater number of online government services. An e-Jaalakam pamphlet was also prepared which furnished the URL of more than 100 relevant websites.
 
Phase II - Campus to Community Phase of e-Jaalakam and launch of Vivaranidhi - A Citizen’s handbook on e-Governance (July - Dec 2013)
During the second phase – (C2C) campus to community phase, the group of student master trainers shared their databank with various civic groups which included both genders; dissimilar age clusters and varied social class. A total of 945 people were covered through seventeen sessions. Feedback was collected from a sample of 100 persons from among them so as to study the impact of the project.
A request that originated from citizens during these training sessions was for written instructions which could be used as and when needed. This led to design and publication of Vivaranidhi – A Citizen’s handbook on e-Governance which  literally handholds the public in their efforts to access 23 core e-Governance services by detailing the various steps one has to follow in accessing  these in a simple flow chart form which even a layman could follow easily.
 
Phase III - e-Mithram handbook for students and e-Jaalakam@School (January- June 2014)
Phase three incorporated the following major changes:
  1. Comprehension that a universal tool was not suitable for people belonging to different age groups led to design of a separate handbook for high/higher secondary school students which included only services which could kindle their interest.
  2. Training sessions organized in previous phase by undergraduate student volunteers during their holidays/free time imposed serious constraints on the area and extent of coverage. A wider reach out and sustainability warranted a different plan of action. The solution visualized was integration with a much acclaimed project in Kerala namely IT@School which has a well established network of operations throughout the state. A joint venture between St. Teresa’s College and Regional Resource Centre, IT@School, Ernakulam District was initiated to launch a pilot project to educate 12,000 students studying in class ten in around 86 Government and aided schools in Ernakulam District in January 2014.  
  3. Some citizens requested for a handbook in the local language which would enhance utility to a large majority of the general public as compared to the English version. Correspondingly an attempt was made to meet this public demand during which it was observed that only around 3-5 of the twenty three services outlined in the handbook had WebPages in Malayalam while all others had only an English interface. Thereupon, the department communicated such demands of the public to the Government of Kerala.
Phase IV-   ToT, Updated English and Local language Version of Vivaranidhiand Scaling up of e-Jaalakam – (June – December 2014) 
In its fourth phase, the e-Jaalakam team has emerged as an expert group which provides Training of Trainers through workshops for various organizations from different strata of society. The team  is  thus  providing technical support for the ‘e-Governance for Good Governance’ project initiated by NSS Technical Cell, Kerala and workshops are being held in  different zones in Tirur, Kollam and Kozhikode to create State level  e-Governance Master Trainers who in turn will impart literacy to the general public. Linkage with a well established network like National Service Scheme will ensure coverage of larger segments of the population. Workshops were also conducted for Kudumbashree volunteers who are currently running/ interested in setting up Akshaya common service centres in Kerala.  Training in high income earning services like filing of Income Tax returns and application for passport was in greater demand amongst this group since it would increase the economic viability of the common service centres.
 
Phase V- e-Jaalakam audio video CD, ToT, Digital India Programmes-January -2015 onwards
 
This phase seeks to further simplify the process of access to the common man by preparing short audio- video clippings on the process of access of varied services including availing of RTI facility. These are uploaded on you tube where it can be accessed by all. These are also compiled in a single CD which are used in TOT programmes.
 
Digital India, is a project of the Government of India aiming in transforming India into a digitally empowered society with digitally literate citizens and thus, bringing India into the mainstream even in International affairs. As a part of this initiative, the e-Jaalakam team of the Department of Economics, St.Teresa’s College, organized various activities during the course of Digital India Week Viz.
  1. One day camp for opening  Digi-locker,
  2. Debate on the topic “Digital India-Prospects and Problems” 
  3. “Towards Digital India through e-Jaalakam” a continuous programme in association with Ernakulam District Residents Association Apex Council (EDRAAC).

 

 

 

 

Challenges

Strategy adopted

Lack of well defined  content being a completely novel project
 
Difficulty in choosing services and presenting these to the public in such a manner as to capture their interest and motivate acces

Life cycle approach

Limited availability of Government funds

Tapping in on Corporate Social Responsibility funds and other donations. Once this obstacle was overcome, it emerged as a major achievement of the project in that large part was funded from Non Government sources.
 

General tendency of educational institutions to confine activities to their own campus and reluctance of many staff and students to spare their valuable time for social causes.

Leverage the emphasis given to Social Outreach Programmes by University Grants Commission and National Assessment and Accreditation  Council

Tendency of people to forget demonstrations due to infrequent nature of usage.

Design of a handbook which furnished methods of access in simple flow chart form

Difficulty in sustaining interest of diverse age groups with a single handbook

Design of different handbook for students as compared to the general one for citizens
The content for students included sites which could spark and sustain their interest and cover was also designed to make it attractive yet simple for them
 

Ensuring utility to  people not well versed with English language

Translation of the handbook to Malayalam

Ensuring access to the public

Handbooks and pamphlet have been uploaded on the webpage of
  1. Department of Economics, St Teresa’s College
  2. The Knowledge Repository of NeGD, India where it   can be freely downloaded by all.
  3. webpage of Kerala State IT Mission

Frequent developments/ modifications in services

Citizen watch group will monitor such developments, make necessary modifications in the learning tools and upload on web pages periodically
 

Scalability

Linkage to well established and much acclaimed   programme- IT@School Project, Government of Kerala
 
Grooming of student master trainers in higher educational institutions in other districts who would take forward the activities in their localities.
Ensuring wider reach out across diverse social groups
 
Target population stratified and diverse strategies devised to access different groups
 
Youth - their active presence on social media- face book is being made use of to spread awareness.
 
Older generation are being sensitised through traditional training sessions, handbooks. 

 

  1. GOLD under category ‘Outstanding e-Governance Initiative by Academic and Research Institutions’ for the National award on e-Governance 2014-15 instituted by the Government of India, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pension,  Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (E-Gov. Division). 
  2. CSI (Computer Society of India) Valient e-Governance Promoter Award 2014-15.
  3. Chief Minister’s Special Jury Award for Innovations in Public Service 2012-13.
  4. Kerala State e-Governance Awards 2011-13, Government of Kerala.
  5. An NGO “IT for Change”, Bangalore has identified e-Jaalakam project as one of the best practices in Gender and e-Governance as part of their research study done for United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in Asia – Pacific Region.

 

Greater vertical and horizontal reach

Strategy for extending reach (Diverse strategies for varied social groups)
 

Target population:

  • High school and higher secondary school students
    Strategy:- roll-out through e-Jaalakam@School project. Popularization through social media - facebook
  • College/university students
    strategy:- e-Jaalakam Chapters to be created in all districts Popularization through nss existing in colleges Popularization through social media

Civic groups:

  • Residents' Association Networks
    Strategy:- Awareness sessions in various districts by e-Jaalakam chapters, leveraging social outreach programmes
  • Professional Organization Networks
    Strategy:- Tie-up with Shakthi, a women’s organisation, to spread awareness among housewives

FUTURE PLANS

  • Creation of a chain of e-Governance Master Trainers in higher educational institutions throughout Kerala
  • Periodical workshops for updating them in e- and m-Governance

Initiated by the II Year BA Economics Students of 2012-13 batch. The batons passed on every year to the next II DC Students. The current leaders of the Projects are the II DC of 2015-16. They are

  1. Aleena Tom
  2. Aleena Shibu
  3. Maria Ashmi T P
  4. Parvathy N
  5. Shilpa C P
  6. Meera Unnikrishnan
  7. Ardra J
  8. Alna Joy
  9. Varadha M S

Faculty in-charge

  1. Dr. Nirmala Padmanabhan, Head, Department of Economics
  2. Smt. Pearly Antony O
  3. Dr. Mary Liya C A
  4. Ms. M Renuka
  5. Ms. Priyanka T R

People who have helped shape the project.

  1. P H Kurien, IAS
  2. State e-Governance Mission Team, Kerala – Shri Jayachandran, Principal Consultant & Head, Mr Vinod Raj and Mr Krishnakumar, Consultants.
  3. Dr. Babu Sebastian, Vice Chancellor, Mahatma Gandhi University and Former Executive Director, IT@School project, Kerala.
  4. Shri. Biju Prabhakar IAS,
  5. Shri. Sheikh Pareed, IAS, Former District Collector, Ernakulam.
  6. Current KSITM Director Shri. K. Mohammed Y Safirulla, I.A.S
  7. Former Director of KSITM Dr. Jayasankar Prasad.
  8. Mr. Josisus Benny Kittan, Manager e-Governance, KSITM.
  9. Ms. K. Ambili, Assistant Mission Coordinator.
  10. Shri. Hibi Eden, MLA Ernakulam.
  11. Mr. Joseph Antony, Co-ordinator, Regional Resource Centre, IT@School Ernakulam.
  12. Ernakulam District Residents Association Apex council (EDRAAC) and other educational institutions.
  13. The Federal Bank Ltd, Rainbow Publishers Pvt Ltd and Greater Cochin Round table 102.
  14. Geojit BNP Paribas, Ernakulam.

1) E-Jaalakam citizen engagement tools uploaded in the St.Teresa’s College website. Please click here. www.teresas.ac.in/main/eJaalakam.asp

2)  E- Jaalakam citizen engagement tools developed by our students are uploaded on Kerala state IT Mission webpage. Please click here: www.itmission.kerala.gov.in/e-jaalakam.php

3) E – Jaalakam paper presentation on CIPS. Please click here : www.cips.org.in/public-sector...e.../dr-nirmala-padmanabhan.pdf

4) IT Master Ekm : E- jaalakam Websites itmasterekm.blogspot.com/p/e-jaalakam-websites.html

5) Federal Bank CSR initiative : e-Jaalakam : Empowering Women www.federalbank.co.in/.../federal-bank-csr-initiative-e-jaalakam-empowering -women

6) Kerala students to spread e-governance awareness: www.igovernment.in/.../kerala-students-spread-governance-awareness

7) e-jaalakam facebook page https://www.facebook.com/eJaalakam

8) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqrE5_hvMlo&feature=youtu.be

9) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc2fzGpUR3I