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Vodafone Foundation’s report “Rule of Thumb – Mobiles for Governance in India” launched at Dasra Philanthropy Week

Continuing with its endeavour to bring the subject of governance using mobile technology to the forefront, the Vodafone Foundation today launched “The Rule of Thumb – Mobiles for Governance in India”, a report that explores India’s governance challenge across six dimensions: voice and accountability, political stability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law and control of corruption.

Against each of these challenges, the report describes the enabling role of mobile technologies using examples of m-governance initiatives on the ground, by non-profit organizations and the government. These illustrate how marrying the ubiquity of mobile technology with governance systems and processes is producing great benefits for citizens and the government alike. In addition, the report profiles 11 promising non-profit organizations and social businesses that are harnessing mobile technology to strengthen governance in India.

M-governance utilizes mobile technology such as mobile phones, pagers, laptops, tablets, personal digital assistants and two-way radios to improve benefits for citizens, businesses and government. With over 930 million connections and 13% of the global mobile users, India has a unique opportunity to leverage mobile technology to take good governance to its citizens across the country, states the Rule of Thumb – Mobiles for Governance in India report.

While being optimistic of mobile telephony’s impact in transforming societies, the report points out that India is battling other developmental issues like economic cyclicality, weak infrastructure, poor education and health outcomes amongst others. It recognizes the urgent need of reinventing these symptoms of inherited governance structure. Mobile governance will thus play an important role.

Presently, m-governance is being used to monitor and improve elections and project implementation, optimize traffic flows, prevent crime, discourage corruption, encourage citizen participation, pay bills, democratize media, mobilize citizens and build dialogue between the government and the people. Governance anytime, anywhere is already around us – now it needs to catch up with the sheer scale and social complexity of our population.

Compiled by Dasra, this report is based on the internationally recognized standard of Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGIs) developed by World Bank and Brookings Institute.

Speaking on the occasion, P. Balaji, Director – Regulatory and External Affairs, Vodafone India, said, “Mobile technology has been a transformational catalyst to good governance and in delivery of public services. Through this report “Rule of Thumb – Mobiles for Governance in India” we have explored India’s governance challenges and the enabling role of mobile technologies, illustrated through examples of m-governance initiatives on the ground, both, by non-profit organizations and governments themselves.

The actual reach of mobile phones and thus m-governance is higher than the 63% mobile penetration as mobile phones are often acquired not by individuals but by households. Further, the uptake of m-governance will be propelled due to the demographic advantage as youngsters are more likely to use smartphones, access internet and transact online, going forward. Hence, m-governance in India is a developing story, and the realization of its full potential will require all stakeholders – private sector, non-profits, and government – to play their part.

At Vodafone, we are committed to facilitate the adoption and adaption of m-governance initiatives to address the pressing socio economic challenges that India faces and realize the vision of Digital India”.

Commenting on the report, Neera Nundy, Partner & Co-Founder, Dasra, said, “With over 900 million mobile subscriptions, India’s mobile revolution presents an unprecedented opportunity to address the governance deficit and bring good governance to the most remote corners of the country. The report ‘Rule of Thumb’ makes a case for m-governance and re-imagining the ways in which governments and citizens function, transact and interact with each other.”


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