By V Srinivasan, Founder Chairman, eMudhra Limited
I have often asked my audience at workshops if they still deal with paperwork at their banks. If they still maintain files to keep a track of records or physically sign a dozen documents while applying for a loan? Almost all of them answer in the affirmative. We have apps and a dozen tech solutions for a lot of mundane chores. Lack of awareness and mindset for adoption of a paperless environment are a few reasons that hinder India’s progress as a technologically advanced country. And these changes have to come from within the government first.
The introduction of initiatives like ‘Digital India’, ‘India stack’ and Aadhaar solutions have propelled the government’s push for cashless transactions to the common man. The Prime Minister’s move to demonetize India reduced the dependency on cash and pushed our fellow countrymen towards the use of digital solutions. While such initiatives have captured the imagination of a cashless economy, it has also reduced our dependency on paper. What’s important is, the government is taking proactive measures in its own institutions before rolling it out to the public.
Various Central and State governments have adopted a paperless approach to abolish all roadblocks in completing procedures. The bulky files in ancient cupboards found in government offices are now being digitized in order to keep a quick track of all queries directed to the institutions. There were times we saw unending queues of people holding tons of copies of ‘Proof of Address’ and ‘Proof of Identity’ (POA and POI). Initiatives like ‘Digilocker’ have helped 45, 59, 719 citizens so far in storing 68, 50, 828 documents related to POA and POI for easy completion of verification or application processes.
The 45K plus citizens can utilize their digital documents for services that are registered with DigiLocker like LPG or driving license issuing offices. Due to digitization of documents, chances of corruption or lethargy are weeded out. It is easier for government officials to process applications at a faster pace. There is increase in accountability in government offices due to transparency in transaction processing. This will result in higher efficiency in all departments and an increase in the goodwill among citizens and other states.
The bane of paper
The number of papers used in organizations for printing, faxing, signing etc. in a single day is staggering. You might be one of the million Indians whose dependency on paper has worsened the environment. According to the paperlessproject.com, globally, an average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper annually. These numbers can be changed drastically by integrating paperless solutions to avoid the needless printing of papers.
Multinational companies handle huge number of documents in the employee onboarding process. Hundreds of candidates provide their physical resume that needs to be processed. The documents of the shortlisted candidates also add to the paperwork. The time taken to complete the process of hiring ends up in months rather than days. Companies like Infosys have introduced a paperless workflow solution like emSigner, thus eliminating the whole process of accumulating paper. They have digitized the whole process in a way that the hiring and employee onboarding process is completed far efficiently with reduced overheads and unnecessary costs.
We also waste a lot of papers to review and sign a document. Any official transaction requires signatures to legally validate the document. Electronic signatures help eliminate the hassle of handling paperwork, including signing, filing, storing, and tracking. By storing paperwork digitally, tracking of documents becomes easy and helps in faster processing time. According to Workawesome.com, the associated cost of printing, copying, postage, storing, and recycling can be as much as 31 times the purchase price of paper. There is also the added cost of cabinets for storing records and man power needed to manage these. These costs are eliminated by a paperless solution that will streamline all the departmental processes and digitize it.
It also helps keep the fraudsters and hackers in check. Paperless solutions come with features to secure and encrypt your document. Once the document has been signed, a third party cannot tamper with your signature or backdate it.
In today’s generation, where all personal information is readily available at the click of the right button, privacy has become a major concern. The technology used in creating these signatures are completely secure and only a right private-public key combination can access the encrypted data. In plain words, once you sign and encrypt a document, it cannot be further altered on the way to the intended recipient.
In conclusion, going paperless in India can be easily achieved now with the constant support of the government and the benefits are limitless. The fact that government offices, which are usually considered last to adopt newer technologies, are the first to go paperless says it all.
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