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July 11, 2020

Essay : Indian Government's Digital Platforms playing Important Role during Covid 19 crisis

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It is imperative for governments to provide accurate, useful and upto-date information to people, particularly through times of crisis. During COVID-19 pandemic, Indian government’s use of digital technology and providing information on national portals, mobile apps or through social media platforms is the game changer to reach to the masses. Timely information, direct money transfer to the poor, needy and vulnerable groups can help save many lives and at this point the digital apps developed by the government are playing an important role in responding to the crisis. The Prime Minister also while addressing the nation on 12th May, 2020 gave a call for ‘self-reliant India’ and mentioned how with direct benefit transfer during corona crisis, government has been able to transfer funds directly to the actual beneficiary accounts and able to curb corruption and leakages.

Aarogya Setu App

The ‘Aarogya Setu’ App enables people to assess themselves the risk for their catching the coronavirus infection. It calculates this based on people’s interaction with others, using cutting-edge bluetooth technology, algorithms and artificial intelligence. Once installed in a smartphone through an easy and user-friendly process, the app detects other devices with Aarogya Setu installed that come in the proximity of that phone.

The App can then calculate the risk of infection based on sophisticated parameters if any of these contacts is tested positive. The App is helping the government to take necessary and timely steps for assessing risk of spread of COVID-19 infection, and ensuring isolation where required. The App’s design ensures privacy-first and the Government, after apprehensions from some people has assured users about the data safety and security of the app. The personal data collected by the App is encrypted using stateof-the-art technology and stays secure on the phone till it is needed for facilitating medical intervention and is available in 11 languages.


The Government of India has launched a WhatsApp chatbot so that the citizens can get instant and authentic answers to all of their queries related to the Coronavirus pandemic. Users have to drop a ‘Hi’ on the number +91-9013151515 or can call on the MyGov Corona Helpdesk to get answers to pertinent queries such as the symptoms of the deadly disease, nearest COVID-19 testing facility.

Corona Kavach

It is a COVID-19 tracker application, created by the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. This application provides users with realtime location of infected users who have activated the ‘Kavach’ feature.

COVID-19 Feedback

This application has been developed by the centre to get direct feedback from people who have undergone coronavirus treatment in the country.

COVID-19 National Helpline

A 24x7 National Helpline number +91-11-23978046 and toll-free number 1075 have been launched where people can access corona related information by the government. Also, the centre has an e-mail id: to attend to queries of people related to the disease.


Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed an app called ‘SAMPRAC’ to enable tracking people under quarantine. It is a software that includes an app that can be installed on the smart phones of the infected COVID-19 patients. It is a server-side application that is used by the state authorities to track the patients. The system enables geofencing, AI-based automated face recognition (between selfie taken during registration and subsequent selfies sent by the patient), and would have the capability to display the information to the state officials on a map which can be colour-coded to depict hotspots and containment zones. Honest usage of this app can give them an option of home isolation instead of isolation in a government facility. It is expected to drastically reduce the overhead of tracking every patient under home isolation, thereby reducing the load on the state machinery. The officials can easily track the violators and can also perform random checks. The violators would be show  in red on a map if they break the geo-fence or their selfie(s) does not match; in blue if their smartphones stop sending periodic updates; and in green if everything is found satisfactory.

Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT)

It is a scheme by Government of India to transfer the benefits and subsidies of various social welfare schemes like LPG subsidy, MNREGA payments, old-age pension, scholarships etc. directly in the bank account of the beneficiary. The government’s technology-driven direct benefit transfer (DBT) has been crucial in implementing PM Garib Kalyan Yojana that was rolled out to provide relief to the poor and vulnerable amid the COVID-19 crisis.

About 20 crore women from low income groups having Jan Dhan account were given direct benefit transfer of Rs. 500/- per month for free with Rs. 10,025 crore already transferred. During the lockdown, direct benefit transfer of Rs. 2,000 each was provided to 8.19 crore beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM KISAN) scheme. 8 crore beneficiaries of Ujjwala LPG scheme have been offered 3 cylinders free of cost. 2.20 crore building and construction workers received financial support worth Rs. 3,950 crore because of DBT. Besides, 6.81 free cylinders reached Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries  and over 12 lakh EPFO holders benefitted from the withdrawal of non-refundable withdrawal advance, which amount to Rs. 3,360 crore.


The Survey of India (SoI) has developed an e-platform that collects geotagged information on the nation’s critical infrastructure in order to help the government and public health agencies take critical decisions in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation. The platform has geo-located information of hospitals, testing labs, quarantine camps, containment and buffer zones as well as information on biomedical waste disposal sites. The mobile based application, called SAHYOG, works as a key tool in helping community workers carry out the government’s objectives of door-to-door surveys, contact tracing, deliveries of essentials items and to create focused public awareness campaigns. This platform and app have been created to enhance the efforts of the government in improving its response system at this crucial time. The platform strengthens the public health delivery system of the State and central governments and subsequently provides the necessary geospatial information support to citizens and agencies dealing with the challenges related to health, socio-economic distress, and livelihood challenges.

Some other technology apps developed by the government and playing an important role during COVID- 19 crisis are :

Bhim App

BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) is an Indian mobile payment app developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), based on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). It was launched on 30th December, 2016 and helps in facilitating e-payments directly through banks as a drive towards cashless transactions. Transactions on BHIM are nearly instantaneous and can be done 24/7 including weekends and bank holidays. BHIM also allows users to check the current balance in their bank accounts and to choose which account to use for conducting transactions, although only one can be active at any time.


It is a card scheme, conceived and launched by the National Payments Corporation of India to fulfil the Reserve Bank of India’s vision to have a domestic, open and multilateral system of payments. RuPay facilitates electronic payment at all Indian banks and financial institutions. IRCTC Through the mobile app by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) consumers need not stand in long queues and can book e-tickets from home. GeM It is an e-commerce portal or the government e-Marketplace, which has been created to allow government departments to buy their requirements from various vendors without cash or physical payments. 


UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) is a Government of India all-in-one single unified secure multi-channel multi-platform multi-lingual multiservice freeware mobile app for accessing over 1,200 central and state government services in multiple Indian languages over Android, iOS, Windows and USSD (feature phone) devices, including services such as AADHAAR, Digi Locker, Bharat Bill Payment System, PAN, EPFO services, PMKVY services, AICTE, CBSE, tax and fee or utilities bills payments, education, job search, tax, business, health, agriculture, travel, Indian railway   tickets bookings, birth certificates, e-District, e-Panchayat, police clearance, passport, other utility services from private companies and much more.


It is an online education programme initiated by the Government of India to achieve the principles of education policy by providing access, equity and quality. The objective of this effort is to take the best teaching learning resources to all, including the most disadvantaged. The Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) seeks to bridge the digital divide for students who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy. It is done through a platform that facilitates hosting of all the courses, taught in classrooms from Class 9 till postgraduation to be accessed by anyone, anywhere at any time. More than 1,000 specially chosen faculty and teachers from across the country have participated in preparing these courses which are available free of cost. These courses are of great help to learners as they have been designed by one of the best faculties from India and follow four quadrant approach to learning.

Thus, by installing and using the government apps, Indian citizens can save time, money as these apps are proving to be of great help during COVID-19 pandemic, playing a significant role in responding and reaching to the needy and vulnerable groups.

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