Interview with Vidya Sagar: Panchayat Secretary, Joginder Nagar, Himachal Pradesh
Duration: 00:14:36; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 31.407; Saturation: 0.160; Lightness: 0.414; Volume: 0.204; Cuts per Minute: 0.137; Words per Minute: 69.315
The Identity project emerged as a result of our dissatisfaction at the nature of the debate that was emerging on the area of digital governance in India.
Over the past three years we have conducted numerous field visits in seven Indian states.These visits include numerous video-conversations, some short and others very long, with a diverse number of those who were involved with this entire process of participating in the emergence of a digital ecosystem of governance. These are interviews with people being enrolled into the Aadhaar programme, with district-level Panchayat and other officials, with numerous State government bureaucrats, with private enrollment representatives, representatives of various governmental services, with operators and other members of this digital workforce. Conversations are often long, spontaneous and deliberately unstructured: and the focus is mainly on a vérité style using amateur video.
Some key issues that we shortlisted for detailed inquiry were issues of migrants, both domestic and across international borders, homelessness in cities, and the financially excluded. Each of these areas was discussed in considerable detail at major public consultations held in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore, in partnership with the CSDS, the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, and the Urban Research and Policy Programme Initiative of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. All videos of all presentations made at these events are also available here.
CSCS also has an extensive text archives of material on the field as a whole, available on http://eprints.cscsarchives.org
Interview with Vidya Sagar, panchayat secretary at Joginder Nagar, Himachal Pradesh reveals several things about local governance. Firstly, one of the major challenges faced by the panchayat staff is keeping a record of most recent addresses of the residents in that area and making sure that the voter list reflects that. In many cases, date of birth is not recorded correctly. The Aadhaar enrolment process provides an opportunity to “clean” some of this information, if not digitally, then at least manually, by checking with people who come for enrolments. The interview also contains information about the other services, especially NREGA that the panchayat administers.
Speaker: UID cards are being made.
Interviewer: When did it start here?
Speaker: This is the third day.
Interviewer: How has the response been?
Speaker: It has been positive, people have been coming.
Interviewer: How many people approximately?
Speaker: We'll know shortly. People have been coming. We have been promoting it and telling them of it's benefits.
Interviewer: Do you also manage the electoral roll?
Speaker: Yes, sir.
Interviewer: Is your election registration records connected to the Adhaar registration?
Speaker: Yes, it very connected.
Speaker: The introduction to UID has been happening through this medium. The second being ration cards.
Interviewer: So the voter ID is the basic proof of address?
Speaker: Yes, sir. After the voter ID, it's the ration card.
Interviewer: Your election records are quite exhaustive. They have been updated for the recent election that happened.
Speaker: Addition and deletion keeps happening constantly. People turning 18 are being included. Similarly, whoever passed away are being removed from the list.
Interviewer: Has these records been computerised?
Speaker: Yes, sir. But the recent local records are not computerised yet, the ones we've collected in the past few days.
Interviewer: So can the voter record be accessed through the Adhaar cards of individuals?
Speaker: No sir, not at that time. Only on the basis of the id proof we provide a photo copy of records if needed.
Interviewer: So, in a way election records and Adhaar record are different or is there a connection?
Speaker: They are the same, as they are permanent IDs with information on date of birth, name, sex, address. All of this goes into the Adhaar card also.
Interviewer: Do people find ot difficult to fill these forms?
Speaker: Not really. People here are educated and if there's any difficulty then we're here to help out. The representatives from the panchayat also help out.
Interviewer: Do Anganwadi workers also help out? Isn't there a system in Himachal/ Mandi district?
Speaker: In what?
Interviewer: That if they help in filling a form, they get 50 paise.
Speaker: That I don't know. This should be under the CDPO of anganwadis. they'll be able to tell you.
Interviewer: How many stations are there?
Speaker: In this panchayat?
Interviewer: While you're doing this enrollment, how many computer stations do you use here?
Interviewer: So two operators?
Interviewer: One has to give a lot of details and documents for the election cards, so people who have had their Voter IDs made from here, would have already furnished those here. So these details match with the form for Adhaar card also...?
Speaker: In a lot of these IDs the addresses are not right. maybe about 10%, the rest are right.
Interviewer: Do you take the data from the electoral roll?
Speaker: Now we're correcting and going through the voter list again.
Interviewer: How are you dong it?
Speaker: By asking for proof. We go door to door and collect information like certificates and documents.
Interviewer: When they come here to get enrolled in Adhaar don't they bring it along anyway?
Speaker: Yes they do. Sometimes the dates of birth are not right. A lot of people have guessed at their ages when they got their first IDs done. Now we're making the list better and sound.
Interviewer: When they come here to get their Adhaar card done, do you consult the electoral rolls or compare them?
Speaker: We do compare and both of them have the same thing and they have to furnish the proof.
Speaker: We do have look at proof. There are more problem wth the dates of birth. Names are being corrected, father's/husband's name, house number. Birth certificates and DOB proofs are hard to come by.
People give approximate dates and ages. We don't get solid proof. The new records have birth certificates and proofs but the old ones don't.
Speaker: Now the records and documents are clear and in good condition, which wasn't the case before.
Speaker: Sometimes there's a mismatch between the photo and the name. We're correcting all that now.
peaker: Like we have someone's name and someone else's photograph. We have to correct all that.
Interviewer: We want to understand, what services does the panchayat offer people who come from outside?
Interviewer: The ration card system is also operated from here?
Speaker: Yes. In the role of the Panchayat or the head the biggest job is to make a comprehensive registry of families and population. There are minimum 5 blocks in each panchayat and to get them all in one register with everyone's entry. Birth and death registrations are other important things; distribution of ration card. Other than this the other tasks are the national level programmes like MNREGA.
Interviewer: What difficulties do you currently face in delivering all these services?
Speaker: There are many. All these various jobs come under us and a limited staff has to manage everything and we do somehow.
Interviewer: NREGA is also managed from here?
Speaker: Yes, all information, permissions go out from here.
Interviewer: What are the problems with NREGA? We have heard that in several states that the money doesn't reach the labourers and it disappears in transit. Have you seen problems like that here?
Speaker: NREGA is a very big scheme and a very good scheme as well, which we are trying very hard to run well. The Gram Sabha is directly responsible for this and they send a representative to pass the scheme regulations. Most of the work is related to water, land welfare, irrigation related, rural connectivity, flood control: all these tasks under NREGA are passed by the Gram Sabha. And wherever it is feasible according to technical ease, the sites are inspected as to whether the work here essential or not and send the report to the BDO.
Interviewer: My next question is, how do you think you can benefit from the UID enrollments in your existing responsibities.
Speaker: We haven't been told about this in detail. We've been collecting information from other regions. We think having all the information on one platform will be very beneficial. Frauds and irregularities can be stopped.
Interviewer: How many members are there in the panchayat office?
Speaker: About 2129. 5 blocks have 5 heads and two panchayat heads. One person handles Gram Rozgar and our technical assistants- 2-3. Then we have security. That's our staff.
Interviewer: Thank you.