The web based Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS), was designed and implemented in all the Ministries / Departments of Government of India in 2007. No one should know this better than Press Information Bureau of the Government of India. Yet a PIB release claims that “nothing has revolutionized accountability, transparency and the response time of the government departments than the Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS), brought in by the Narendra Modi government.”.
In the article shared by PIB India, Amitabh Shukla, Resident Editor, The Pioneer, Chandigarh, recounts his pleasant experience with CPGRAMS, attributing the system to the Modi government. “As the Modi government has completed three years, I would limit myself to CPGRAMS which shows how penetration of Information Technology has overhauled grievance redressal mechanism in the country. While some say this is “revolutionary”, my personal experience with the system reinforced my belief that indeed the government departments have started working very fast in the last over three years.”
The grievance redressal portal pgportal.gov.in through which Shukla logged in his grievance was launched 9 years ago and was certainly “revolutionary” in its time. Here is a screenshot of “web.archive.org” which is a website that takes snapshots of websites around the world at regular intervals. The following image shows snapshots of the website taken starting 2008 which means that the portal has been in existence since 2008.
This next image is that of pgportal.nic.in as it looked on May 3rd, 2014, two weeks before Modi government was sworn in, shows that citizens could log in, track and monitor the status of their grievances. These are features that the recent PIB release has praised, attributing them to the Modi government.
Numerous presentations and articles on the website of Department of Public Grievances detail the background of CPGRAMS and its launch in 2007. A customized software with local language interface was also designed for the state governments. The state module of CPGRAMS was implemented in Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Puducherry, Meghalaya and Mizoram in 2012. It was subsequently launched in Uttrakhand, Jharkhand and Punjab, bringing the total number of states/union territories where it is launched to nine. The following screenshot from a presentation on darpg.nic.in clearly states when CPGRAMS was established.
PIB itself has talked about CPGRAMS as one of the many initiatives taken by Government to Ensure a Corruption Free, Transparent Administration in a release in 2013. V. Narayanswamy, Minister of State in UPA government attached to the PMO, is quoted as talking about CPGRMS as “a framework for efficient handling of public grievances.” in another PIB release.
While CPGRAMS itself is 9 years old, in 2015, Prime Minister Modi launched PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation), a system designed in-house by the PMO team with the help of National Informatics Center (NIC). The PM chairs the meeting and reviews progress in PRAGATI meetings. Issues to be flagged before the PM are picked up from the available database regarding Public Grievances, on-going Programs and pending Projects. A mobile App for CPGRAMS was launched in October 2015 by Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
There is no doubt that Modi government has continued to build upon CPGRAMS. However, it is shocking that PIB India has given credit to Modi government for bringing in a system that was launched nine years ago. PIB India’s disclaimer at the end of the article states, “Views expressed in the article are author’s personal.” It is not the “views” but the “facts” that are under discussion here. PIB must take responsibility for checking the facts before putting them out in public space.