If it’s not by you, it’s not for you,” reads the tagline of iFor India, an online platform that asks Indians to take ‘ownership’ of their country and voice their opinion about various socio-political issues in their respective constituencies, ultimately rating their elected representatives on the basis of work they have done. The brainchild of 30-somethings Ankur Garg and Tarun Jain, the initiative, launched in August this year, is a virtual report card that will help citizens make informed decisions about their respective MPs and MLAs on various parametres including basic needs (such as sanitation and cleanliness, public transport), governance and administration, growth and progress, professional education and reputation. It works on simple logic. One has to register on the website by providing their mobile phone number and once they receive a verification code, proceed to the rating system. At present iFor India lists 4,200 constituencies of all the 28 states and two union territories of India.
Thirty-one-year-old Garg, a former Microsoft employee who shifted to Mumbai from Ghaziabad last year, says the site’s objectives are manifold. “We wanted to build a database that would reflect our sentiment and send out a strong message to politicians that they need to focus on their work rather than making promises. Also in the near future, we want to tie up with media houses and publish these report cards so that a larger audience is informed about the work of politicians. This will create constructive pressure on leaders.”
Garg says the response so far has been good, “Our site has had 1,80,000 unique visitors since its launch and about 15,000 registered users,” he says. He got the idea for this platform after he worked on a similar model for Microsoft where he was heading ‘Customer Partner Experience’. His partner in the venture, Tarun is veteran in data analytics and research.
Last week, the site was launched in Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi and other languages to reach out to a wider population. However, Jain and Garg understand that everyone might not have Internet access. That’s why they are in talks to have a mobile app. “In tier-II cities, many people own phones but don’t have access to computers. To target them we will soon launch an android app. They will just need to provide their Aadhaar card number for authentification and then access the app. Also, we have launched the volunteer programme where individuals can become volunteers and facilitate in forming local groups that will discuss the rate cards and take them to the MLAs or MPs,” Garg concludes.