Saturday, October 15, 2016

DIGITAL INDIA – Hype and Reality

DIGITAL INDIA – Hype and Reality
Musings
By
VIKRAM KARVE

After being elected to power by a huge mandate in May 2014 – Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Ministers have taken many initiatives for the betterment of India.

One such initiative is “Digital India” – which envisages extensive use of information technology for better governance.

The positive effects of adopting technology in governance are visible in certain ministries/organizations – notably Indian Railways, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and many Municipal Bodies – which have optimally used Internet (and Social Media) to improve governance (e-governance) and speed up grievance redressal (online complaint management)

However – there are still some “laggards” who refuse to adopt modern technologies to improve governance – they prefer to remain antiquated and backward – and they continue to use the obsolescent “paper based system” instead of “online governance”.

To be successful – the “Digital India” initiative needs to be all-encompassing and must include all organizations (particularly government run organizations) – especially those organizations which provide services to citizens.

A few technophobic regressive organizations should not be allowed to derail or impede the “Digital India” initiative.

Recently – I discovered one such antiquated organization which is indifferent to the Prime Minister’s “Digital India” initiative – “United India Insurance Company Ltd” – which is a Government Public Sector Undertaking (PSU).

Let me tell you about my disappointing experience with “United India Insurance Company Ltd”.

A few days ago – inspired by “Digital India” – I decided to avail the “online” option to buy a Travel Insurance Policy – instead of the traditional “Agent Hard-Copy” which I had used in the past for buying insurance policies.

In the past – I had taken a Travel Insurance Policy from “United India Insurance Company Ltd” in the past (via an agent).

So – I decided to take an “online policy” from the same insurance firm – “United India Insurance Company Ltd”.

Accordingly – I opened the “United India Insurance Company Ltd” website on the internet and I saw an option for buying “online policies”.

So – I filled in the necessary online forms – and – I made the required online payment for the policy.

The payment was successful and I was allotted at “Transaction ID” by “United India Insurance Company Ltd”.

I also received an SMS from my Bank that the amount had been debited to my account and credited to “United India Insurance Company Ltd”.

I was given to understand that online insurance policies are generated instantly and forwarded by email immediately.

However – I did not receive any email from “United India Insurance Company Ltd”.

Also – I did not receive any SMS intimation from “United India Insurance Company Ltd” regarding issue/generation of the online policy.

I decided to wait for a day.

Next morning – I checked my email.

There was no email from “United India Insurance Company Ltd”.

I accessed the website of “United India Insurance Company Ltd” and navigated to the page titled “Download/Search Facility for Online Policies”.

I entered my “Transaction ID” and queried for the Status of my Online Policy.

The Status Report stated the online payment was “successful” (in the “Payment Gateway Information” column).

Under “Payment Process Status” the status was: “Your Payment Synced into our System”

Under the “Policy Generation Summary” the status was: “The policy is not yet generated”

This was 4 days ago.

Since then – there has been no communication from “United India Insurance Company Ltd” – No Email – No SMS – No Call – regarding my online policy.

Despite “successful payment” and “payment synced into system” – the status remains the same – and – the policy has still not been generated by “United India Insurance Company Ltd”.

Online Policies are supposed to be generated immediately.

More than 4 days have passed – but – “United India Insurance Company Ltd” has still not generated my policy.

I have sent 3 reminder emails to “United India Insurance Company Ltd” on both the Email IDs: online.policy@uiic.co.in  and support.onlinepolicies@uiic.co.in  mentioned on “United India Insurance Company Ltd” website.

But – I have not received any reply to my emails from “United India Insurance Company Ltd” till today.

The “United India Insurance Company Ltd” Toll Free Helpline 180042533333 does not respond.

Most Private Firms use the Social Media (especially Twitter) effectively to engage with customers and resolve their grievances.

I have observed that many Government Organizations/Entities are active on the Social Media – especially on Twitter – and they respond to Tweets by citizens for grievance redressal and complaint management – besides disseminating information.

Notable among these techno-savvy organizations are Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Indian Railways – even the concerned Ministers personally tweet and respond to citizens.

However - “United India Insurance Company Ltd” seems to be an exception.

“United India Insurance Company Ltd” has got a Twitter Account (@UnitedIndiaInsu)

But – the “United India Insurance Company Ltd” Twitter Account seems to be dormant (the most “recent” tweet is on 07 March 2013 – more than three and a half years ago).

This indicates that “United India Insurance Company Ltd” does not believe in “Tweet Governance” which is being adopted in a big way as to facilitate “Digital India” by many progressive organizations.

I have tweeted to (@UnitedIndiaInsu) “United India Insurance Company Ltd” regarding my problem – but there was no response to my tweets from “United India Insurance Company Ltd”.

It seems to be a similar state of affairs on Facebook too.


CONCLUSION

1. I applied for a “United India Insurance Company Ltd” online policy on 11 Oct 2016. Payment was successful and “synced” into their system. Yet – the online policy has not been issued till today 15 Oct 2016 – more than 4 days after online payment. As per rules – online policies are required to be issued immediately and sent by email. But – “United India Insurance Company Ltd” has not sent any email or SMS regarding my policy.

2. “United India Insurance Company Ltd” does not respond to my emails.

3. “United India Insurance Company Ltd” does not respond to my Tweets.

I feel helpless.

What should I do…?

Even “United India Insurance Company Ltd” Toll Free Number is Unresponsive.

A friend suggested that I should write a hard-copy letter and send it by snail-mail (by postal service) to “United India Insurance Company Ltd” Head Office.

He feels that since “United India Insurance Company Ltd” is a Government PSU – “United India Insurance Company Ltd” may not have made a transition into the modern “Digital Age” – and – “United India Insurance Company Ltd” may still be in the antiquated “Paper Age”.

But – I cannot wait for “paper correspondence” – since I have to travel next week (for which I need the insurance policy).

So – since “United India Insurance Company Ltd” has not issued an online policy in a timely manner – the only immediate option for me is buy another policy from a Private Insurance Company – and later – I can initiate a protracted paper correspondence with “United India Insurance Company Ltd” for a refund.

But one thing is sure.

In future – I will avoid “United India Insurance Company Ltd” and other Government PSUs who refuse to adopt “Digital India”.

The whole nation is trying to move ahead with “Digital India” – and – many Government Entities have adopted “Digital India” in a big way.

Why do a few “techno-phobic” organizations like “United India Insurance Company Ltd” refuse to adopt modern technology…?

Why are they reluctant to be a part of “Digital India”…?

I hope the Government does not allow a few “bad apples” to undermine the “Digital India” effort which requires the participation of all to be a success.

All Government Entities (including archaic PSUs like “United India Insurance Company Ltd”) must be made adopt modern online technologies and make “Digital India” implementation a success.

Do you agree…?

PS:

Dear Reader – In case you know some someone in “United India Insurance Company Ltd” – will you be so good as to forward this post to him/her…?

If you do this – maybe “United India Insurance Company Ltd” will be kind enough to issue my online policy at the earliest and send it to me by email. Or – at least – they will show me the basic courtesy of replying to my email or send me an SMS informing me of the status.

Will “United India Insurance Company Ltd” adopt “Digital India”…?

Will they become active on the Social Media (Twitter)…?

Well– it seems a tall order – but – I am always optimistic… 

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