Sep 11, 2018
3 min read
The internet can be a powerful tool for government bodies to achieve various goals. There are various major objectives – building citizen engagement, promoting e-literacy among citizens, expanding the reach of various government citizens, and even improving internal efficiency within government bodies. The beneficiaries of these e-governance initiatives include citizens, government officials, and government bodies.
One of these government led initiatives is GeM, or the Government e-Marketplace. Procuring common use goods and services for government bodies, from panchayat offices, to post offices, to tehsildar offices, has generally involved multiple steps and processes. These goods can range from staplers, to desktops, to costly technical equipment costing lakhs of Rupees.
The Government aims to bring most of this procurement of goods on GeM. The platform will serve as a unified marketplace where vendors can post goods and services, and buyers, who will be government officials, can procure these goods and services, after paying for them digitally through the same platform.
In addition to streamlining the procurement process, GeM seeks to add an added layer of accountability and transparency in how these various government offices and officials across the country procure what they need.
As part of its implementation, various state governments will now be relying on GeM to drive their procurement processes for various needs and requirements.
According to reports, Government looks to hit ₹3-4 lakh crore worth of procurement through GeM in the next 2-3 years, as well as savings worth 1% of the GDP in the next three years. 25 states and UTs have signed agreements with GeM for procurement or sale of goods and services, which has led to an overall average saving in cost of around 25 per cent, according to the Commerce Ministry.
In order for the platform to be adopted widely, it had to be accessible to all Indians. This is crucial if the Government wants to hit its adoption targets.
This is where Indian languages come into play.
The Language Equation
We’ve often talked about how most Indians are already Indian language internet users, and that 80% of these users are from small towns and rural areas. Most of India lives in small towns and rural areas as well. Government platforms need to account for this, in order to accommodate officials from these regions. This will help them serve these citizens better.
Language cannot be a barrier to the smooth running of government work. It would be grossly unfair to provide a Tamil speaking postmaster with a user experience that is sub par in comparison to her English speaking counterpart’s.
After all, if the Government is to reach its targets, it has to be able to reach all government employees and vendors. Each government employee or vendor who needs to sell or procure goods or services for their office should have access to the same level of ease and convenience. Given that most Indians, including government officials and vendors, are more comfortable in their own language, English users cannot have an advantage over Indian language users.
Language technology bridges this gap, by making content, as well as the platforms they’re on, available in a range of Indian languages. This ensures that the GeM platform can be used to its full potential by government officials & vendors for procurement, with language not acting as a barrier.
To help build GeM and its adoption among various government employees & vendors across the length and breadth of the nation, Reverie worked on localising the platform in 11 major Indian languages. All content on the platform was converted into these languages. This applies even after login.
By localising GeM’s platform, Reverie has played a key role in ensuring that digital procurement remains accessible and convenient regardless of language. Government officials and vendors can now buy and sell with ease, using their own language. This in turn helps the government further its goals of digital adoption, cashless payments, transparency, and even lets it hit targets like transaction volumes, savings from GeM, and more.