Why can’t there be more start ups that hack public service delivery?

Recently, i returned from Kolkata as a married man. I was out for lunch with my beautiful wife for lunch on Park Street, the tony shopping and leisure district. It rained intensely for 30 minutes and yes 30 minutes and the entire street was flooded till the knee. Me and my wife were mislead by the android phone GPS by 50 meters and had to walk in knee deep water for 200 meters  to Veda, for a lunch of Dhakai Murgi and Kebab. The lunch was spectacular with her. The silver lining in a  rainy afternoon. This experience has elevated my  thinking about the paucity of city level public service delivery in India, such as flood control, power access and basic sanitation & clean water. Bangalore has recently been feted as one of the start up capitals of the world by commentators in the global media. The Indian start up scene regarding e-commerce is damn hot. Flipkart, Snapdeal, Urban Ladder are everyday household names and money bags such as Softbank and Sequoia. Rahul Yadav formerly of Housing.com is a sex symbol for his radical antics. This media buzz regarding start ups especially Information Technology Driven have reached a frenzy that contributes to the myth of entrepreneurship. I believe that this myth does a disservice to the folks that creates products to meet a market need, and be accountable to the board of directors, consumers and the shareholders. Entrepreneurs are not responsible to the general public for anything else apart from delivering the correct product for the price rendered. Public Service Delivery involves Public Goods which lies exclusively in the domain of the elected representative aka the Government who swear by institutional memory rather than disruptive innovation. The United States Digital Service and its precursor comprised of tech geeks from the Silicon Valley had salvaged the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare website whose website crashing every two minutes did not render justice to the revolutionary legislation. The internet is the interface between the government and the general public in the ‘Internet of Things’ paradigm. Start Ups such as Social Cops based in Delhi  bring Technology and Big Data to decision making in India. Information Management is critical to designing and delivering massive protection platforms, and biometric identity schemes such as ‘Aadhar’ in India add data to the mix and linking bank accounts to these numbers enables governments to channel cash subsidies to the recipient directly, although the marginalised poor would rather prefer the rice which he/she would boil and consume, Can the conversation regarding start ups move towards building solutions for clean water and sanitation, renewable energy and public governance? That would indeed be a game changer.

1 Comment

  1. Though start-ups regarding public development is a very novel idea,the problem,in a demographically diversified country like India,is always the proper allocation of funds and also recruiting efficient people to manage such things and not be at logger heads with the incessant crisis being faced everyday at a grass root level.

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