Digital India-Initiative Offers Multiple Opportunities


MGRM is a diversified multi-sector Group that creates proprietary technologies in multiple domains. It’s products include Educational E-governance Systems, Country E-governance Applications, Insurance E-governance System and Physical Rehabilitation Splints and Aids. Ekta Srivastava, Sr. Correspondent, Governance Today spoke to Dr Jitendar Verma, Executive Director, MGRM on the services of the company and other related issues. Edited excerpts:
Dr Jitendar Verma, Executive Director, MGRM

Could you share the details of your solutions targeted towards education?
We firmly believe that there is a critical need to address the global challenges faced by today’s education system and it is towards this that MGRM has developed the ‘M-Star Educational E-governance Platform’, a product of more than twenty years of research across global education systems.

The platform supports educational requirements from the ‘delivery to development’ phase of the human life cycle. It encompasses areas concerning pre-primary, elementary, secondary and tertiary education, early childhood development, woman and child development, adult literacy, vocational training, skills development, as well as social programs targeted  towards the girl child among others.

This integrated, proprietary platform comprises Public, Administration and Institutional layers that meet both vertical and horizontal growth requirements of global educational systems. The platform includes integrated systems offered on “build, own, and operate” basis, ensuring minimum upfront investments and underwriting technology obsolescence. It also operates in an online environment as required and is highly customizable, thus enhancing overall scale, speed, and scope of the program.

What kind of competition do you face?
Whilst most educational institutions are aware about E-governance, their current initiatives towards this are limited in scope  and typically range from developing websites / portals to the much hyped ERP solutions and fragmented information systems.

Such systems and initiatives fall short when compared to MGRM’s M-Star Educational E-governance Platform, which is an ‘end to end education product’. We say this because, where ERP solutions focus typically on automating an activity, M-Star’s clear focus is on a student, teacher and administration, with the objective to make an individual a complete personality.

Stakeholders in the education domain have specific needs to cater to different stages of the educational life cycle, which clearly spells out the need for an education specific product to address each of these effectively. Small time vendors with questionable credentials who often implement domain agnostic solutions that are not scalable or as one would say just ‘fit’ the current requirements often lure many an institution. Then of course, there are high-end solution providers who lack domain research and expertise. Mass proliferation of such solutions is proving counterproductive and actually regressing the pace of education reforms.

Can you tell us a little about level of your work in Education and how it has been received in educational set up?
MGRM’s focus is on the education domain towards which it has undertaken exhaustive research in the Indian sub-continent. Since the launch of the M-Star Educational E-governance Platform in 2001, we have conducted and completed several successful pilots across primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions, in both public and private establishments.

Our work has received endorsements from leading academicians and administrators, some pilot projects have also been evaluated by State level committees and duly acknowledged for their expertise as integrated systems. In addition, we have also actively engaged as consultants with key statutory bodies. For example, MGRM was part of preparing CBSE’s accreditation manual and is now an empanelled vendor for accrediting CBSE schools.

Can you sketch out the main opportunities that lie ahead for your company over the next few years?
Our Prime Minister has set up an ambitious initiative with ‘Digital India’ and as part of the plan the government is expected to roll out broadband connectivity to over 2.5 lakh villages and ensuring as many Wi-Fi enabled schools by 2019.

This basic infrastructure would facilitate the government to use cloud technology based master E-governance systems and deliver effective services in an inclusive, accessible and affordable manner to all stakeholders.

The technology stack of MGRM’s Educational E-governance Platform utilizes a combination of cloud, microprocessor based smart cards, analytics and integrated master E-governance systems. Accordingly, some of the opportunities we look forward to include implementing state-wide E-governance technology solutions, learning support platforms and online services such as admissions, recruitments and examinations.

We are already empanelled with a few government organizations for implementing E-governance systems in educational institutions. Additionally, we look forward to more opportunities in consulting and advisory roles.

With your company and many other companies doing so much good work regarding E-governance, what do you think of the prospects of the developing world?
Satisfied, happy citizens lead to a physically, psychologically and socially progressive nation. The benefit of implementing  E-governance solutions is that it brings in a culture of good governance that boosts citizen confidence. International bodies, governments and citizens unequivocally want more accountability, greater transparency and increased responsiveness. Countries are beginning to experience a wave of innovative, domain specific, master E-governance solutions that would help them re-think and re-engineer their existing processes to achieve success in policy implementations and reforms at grassroots level.

What about challenges? What would your company worry about over the next few years?
As MGRM’s focus is on education, in this context we believe that the following challenges would affect educational reforms, market penetration and user adoption:

Proliferation of amateur solution providers
Providers that lack domain expertise, have no vision to address unique domain specific expectations and requirements. The solutions offered are unable to handle complex multidimensional issues operating within the educational environment. This results in complications, opening opportunities for corruption and malpractice.

Lack of management trust
Educational institutes are increasingly getting discouraged and flustered with the high cost of procurement, inefficient implementation practices and long cycle of implementation and  customization. Significant time is spent on regaining management confidence, leading to sharp rise in acquisition costs.

User mindset
In a top-down approach, users at the end of the ladder have a deep resistance to change, especially towards systems that demand process accountability and transparency. The involvement of senior leadership becomes extremely crucial in making the users ‘use’ the system. And more often, the task force committees prove to be insufficient and ineffective. These issues invariably lead to delays in project closure, thereby escalating project implementation cost, time and effort.