[[This is a lengthy mail and is cross-posted on all mailing lists. Kindly bear]]
We interact with the government on multiple occasions. The problems are all too familiar - complex systems, official apathy, corruption - just to name a few.
Some trivia and stats to qualify these claims:
* Entrepreneurs identified increasing the speed and ease of issuing permits; lowering taxes; and reducing the time it takes to start a business as key issues. (Note - All issues relate to government interactions; Source - Legatum Institute)
* In Mumbai, there are 37 procedural hoops to jump through to gain approval to build a warehouse. (Source : World Bank)
* On the Corruption Perception Index (2010), India ranks 87th of 178 countries
* Indians are highest ranked in volume of search for terms such as government rules, passport and registration (Source - Google Trends)
Here's where WikifyIndia - a wiki of government procedures - kicks in.
If Wikipedia is the Thinkers Encyclopedia, WikifyIndia is the Doer's Encyclopedia
We (the founders) are ardent believers of the Wikipedia model and want to apply it to government procedures. Our belief is that ordinary citizens suffer for two reasons – the process is complex and accurate information is unavailable. WikifyIndia addresses the latter. Agents distort information to suit themselves. Officials are rarely friendly. The best solution has always been to ask someone who has ‘been through the grind’. WikifyIndia does it on a national level.
The scope of the Project is wide ranging. From getting into the armed forces to filing a Right To Information request, from complaining about a broken traffic signal to opening a restaurant, from changing your name to adopting a child, from applying for euthanasia to marrying in court, from getting a gun permit to filing your taxes, from getting a permit to climb peaks to getting a gas connection, it will all be there.
Every article is expected to have a short intro, requirements/eligibility, procedure, list of documents, timings, fees, application form, sample certificate among other details. Unlike Wikipedia, WikifyIndia is also a forum. There is merit in aggregating experiences (for ex. visa experiences can be quite varied).
Current approaches on the internet are inadequate. Information is retrieved from Q&A forums, blog posts, agent or government sites. It is incomplete and outdated. Wikipedia has proved that a bottom approach is far more suitable in some areas than any top down approach (where a group is formally trying to organise information). Even if someone did a good job, they wouldn't be able to distribute it for free.
WikifyIndia complements Wikipedia. The article on Civil Marriage in Wikipedia is written differently from the same article on WikifyIndia.
When WikifyIndia has adequate accurate content, it will reduce what economists call 'transaction costs'. Any tool to improve productivity of citizens, entrepreneurs and organisations will be directly contributing to the Indian economy. To the best of our knowledge, there is no other site with a similar approach in any other country. We urge you to jump in and make a difference.
WikifyIndia is a non-profit initiative free of advertising and is being run by a small fund created by the Founders.
We (the founders) have cribbed about a @#$% and rotten system for far too long. WikifyIndia is our way of doing something about it. We ask for your complete support in adding content, sharing experiences, creating templates and technical support. The goal is for every government procedure to be available in every Indian language with complete and accurate guidelines. If a farmer's wife in Manipur wants to get employed under Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, she should have all the information and forms on the site in her language.
Thank you for your time and patience,
Anish and Sohel [User:Sbohra]