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Leveraging Technology for Social Impact: The Haqdarshak Solution

The government is making great strides in social development through a myriad of welfare programmes for the underprivileged and marginalized communities, but many of them go unutilized merely due to the lack of awareness and accessibility. Complicated application procedures, lack of mobility, lack of information on the services available, etc. pose a major hurdle to the citizens in accessing the resources meant especially for them, pushing them into the vicious cycle of poverty and destitution.

The Haqdarshak Solution

Haqdarshak (HQ) recognized this problem and has endeavored to bridge this information gap through digital solutions. Its unique tech-based platform has simplified the application procedure by providing citizens with step-by-step handholding on availing relevant welfare schemes. The Haqdarshak team mobilizes its support through a cadre of field agents or ‘Haqdarshaks’ who do justice to their title by guiding people on accessing what they are rightfully entitled to.

These Haqdarshaks are identified from within the communities and trained on the technical know-how of the digital platform to facilitate seamless enrolment of the citizens into appropriate schemes. Towards this, the Haqdarshaks are paid a stipend or charge the citizens a nominal fee for their services. From checking the eligibility criteria to collating and submitting documents, the Haqdarshaks guide the citizens every step of the way.

The Journey

Haqdarshak’s journey of transformation began about seven years ago. While working with the rural communities in Pune, CEO and Co-founder Aniket Doegar realized how ill-informed and unaware the communities were on applying for schemes that can benefit them immensely. Owing to the lack of awareness and resources, the citizens are left vulnerable to misinformation and touts who take advantage of them, charge an exorbitant service fee, and are never heard from again. To remedy this, Haqdarshak was envisaged as a tech platform that would function as a web or mobile app providing the last mile connect in the delivery of welfare schemes to catalyze socio-economic upliftment of the communities.

The Impact

The HQ platform has empowered the communities on multiple levels. It has not only helped the citizens access the welfare programmes but also augmented the livelihood and employment opportunities of the Haqdarshaks engaged.  

The initiative has been instrumental in securing sustainable livelihoods for the Haqdarshaks and even enabled digital literacy and capacity building, inviting further opportunities their way. Moreover, the Haqdarshaks have found hope and a sense of self-esteem and strengthened their trust and respect among the communities.

“I never even owned a mobile phone before this. Today I have opened a Common Service Centre (CSC) called ‘Zeba Computers’ with my own laptop, lamination machine, biometric machine, and printer – all through the money I earned as a Haqdarshak. I have built a lot of trust in the village and gained respect from my family and community,” shares Zeba, on how stepping up as a Haqdarshak has positively impacted her life.

 

The HQ platform is available in 11 Indian languages and has a database of over 7000 schemes meant for basic social security of the citizens. The platform supports digital payment capabilities and can work online and offline to enable operations in areas with low network connectivity. The initiative has trained over 18,000 Haqdarshaks so far and impacted 15 Lakh citizens, with successful turnaround of 10 Lakh applications, unlocking benefits to the tune of INR 1327 Cr across 22 states.

One of the beneficiaries of the initiative is Faruksab, a 48-year-old labourer and the sole breadwinner of his family. His job involves loading and unloading heavy material from trucks. However, the physical labour involved in the work damaged his backbone leaving him in extreme pain and forcing him to quit his job. Faruksab’s medical treatment involved undergoing a surgery costing 1.3L INR. Through an awareness camp organized by a Haqdarshak, Faruksab learnt about the Ayushman Bharat programme and with the help of the field agents, he was able to enroll for the scheme and received the Arogya Karnataka Health Card that subsidized the cost of his surgery to 20,000 INR.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic that brought the world to a grinding halt, the HQ team remained undeterred in their dedication to serving the communities and adapted accordingly. They carefully assessed the impact of the pandemic on their beneficiaries and launched a new range of services including a B2C app on the Play Store and a platform to support MSMEs with relevant schemes. The HQ team also devised a string of COVID specific services to mobilize immediate relief support to the general population. These include a multilingual helpline, multilingual resource centre, and a WhatsApp Chatbot - all armed with verified information.

“With COVID-19, our focus has turned to ensuring social security for informal and ‘migrant’ workers. We have launched several citizen-focused channels including our multi-lingual helpline and WhatsApp Chatbot which will help us generate demand from our target segment ― individuals who earn less than 500 INR a day, and businesses whose revenues are less than 5 lakh INR a year. In 2021, we want to reach out to 1 million such beneficiaries and help them access welfare services,” comments Aniket Doegar, CEO and Co-founder, Haqdarshak, on rolling out the COVID-19 specific services. 

The Way Forward

Haqdarshak’s rather distinct approach towards translating government efforts into grassroots level impact is a perfect example of leveraging technology for social good. The HQ team is constantly working towards scaling up their digital intervention. By 2025, they aim to facilitate 10 million applications and train more than 20,000 women support agents who can act as a single touchpoint for connecting the communities with relevant services.

 

 

Author

Mansa Madhusudan

Mansa Madhusudan is an Independent Communications Consultant and Impact Journalist specializing in the social development sector. She has a knack for disseminating impact through compelling narratives and rich experience in designing and executing communications strategies, managing editorials, publications, digital media, and engaging with grassroots communities, on initiatives pertaining to Climate Change Resilience, Women Empowerment, Education, Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation, and Diversity and Inclusion.