After getting annoyed by a tree branch poking into the living room of her Pune home, a 70-year-old resident in the Pimpri area posted a complaint on this platform, unaware that the local neta would be at her door within a few minutes. “Within sometime a local corporation arrived, He promised us that the problem would be solved soon, and within five days, the tree had been trimmed, and the whole area had been cleaned,” she said.
NetaG embodies everything founders Krushnaal Pai and Mayur Bansal envisioned it to be. He also said that there are various apps like these that exist in the market but they were all designed to empower citizens but his app is different from the others which gives the politicians a platform to showcase their work. This project was first inspired by the first time 18-year-old Krushnaal walked into a voting booth to cast his first vote but wasn’t able to decide whom to vote for as there was no information about the candidates or their pictures. So, he asked his parents for help selecting a representative for him since he had no idea what to do, dissatisfied with the answer given by his parents led him to develop a platform enabling voters to learn more about their elected officials.
He worked at Accenture for three and a half years after graduating from the Maharashtra Institute of Technology Pune. Krushnaal used his first salary to fund his research for an idea he had for a very long time. The following year, he quit his cushy IT job early after realizing NetaG needed him full-time. Having invested around two lakhs more into the project, he began conducting surveys to find out what local politicians and citizens wanted from an app like this. Then he called Light Vision Technologies, his start-up in Pune, and hired his first employee.
Krushnaal added that politicians needed a lot of coaching and guidance to use such apps, so he hired Deepak Pandey from Mumbai to assist with that. In January 2015, a two-person team developed and launched the NetaG app. This help is a Location-based social app that connects local residents with local politicians in an effort to resolve civic issues. You can post an issue on NetaG just like you would on Twitter – a text post with an accompanying picture.
After posting the issue, the program detects the ward in which the issue is located, and alerts all elected and aspiring politicians in that ward. This latest version of the app keeps the complainant’s identity anonymous to ensure a more open relationship between the parties. Users are able to track the progress made by their politicians, see their proof of work through uploads of pictures, and also live chat with those politicians if they need further details.
Currently, NetaG is home to over 300 political leaders including representatives from the PCMC (Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation) in Pune, and a few words from Mumbai. Krushnaal stated “Depending on the type of issue and the process involved, it usually takes about a day to about a month to resolve an issue. Complex processes like tender filing, for instance, take considerably longer to complete, but we are working hard to minimize these delays.” Approximately 4,000 downloads and 350 complaints have been reported on the app over the last few months. Currently, the platform has resolved 65 issues. Increasingly, corporations have become more accessible to people because of technology. In a testimonial, a user of the app expressed satisfaction that politicians have embraced the modern tools and were open to using them. Over 100 million Indians used smartphones to vote during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, with almost 550 million participants.
Krushnaal believes this market is huge, and competition is always appreciated. He said, “We aren’t in the business of building luxury houses, so competition is good for everyone.” Rather than competitors, he believes they contribute to society.
Krushnaal wants to create a platform that resembles a marketplace, allowing multiple players in e-government to work together. He said, “It is evident that it is not possible or prudent for only one entity to deal with the issue of governance. I need everyone’s help in answering the question ‘Who can I vote for?’’