Our e-governance portal

Background

Uttar Pradesh is the fourth largest state of India by geographical area, andher most populous state. It is the most populous sub-division of any countryin the world. It has a population exceeding 200 million, 72 districts, and aliteracy rate of about 69%. About 79% of the population lives in rural areas.

Only five countries in the world (China, India,United States, Indonesia and Brazil) have populationsgreater than Uttar Pradesh. The demographicand governance challenges of this state are hard tocomprehend, due to its size and social diversity.

The Uttar Pradesh Skills Development Mission orUPSDM was born in mid-2013 as an initiative by theUP state government to make its large young population employable. Many youth were not well educated and had only unskilledlabour as the source of their livelihood.

The UP government launchedthe Skills Development programme to train the youth at zero fees in the areaswhere the state as well as the country needed resources, i.e. in semi-skilledareas and vocational training. The focus was on automotive industry, textileindustry, agricultural, health, security etc.The UPSDM officers were well aware of the responsibility they were taking up and the management overheads they would have to tackle. An informationsystem was a key part of the management solution.

In November 2013, Ernst & Young LLP (EY) and Merce Technologies Pvt Ltd(Merce) were awarded the project to provide complete processes and mechanismsfor the Mission to set up its activities and operate its tasks. EY wasgiven the task of process consulting, definition and operational support, andMerce was assigned the responsibilities of building and maintaining the informationsystem addressing complete workflow and MIS requirements.

The Requirement

The Mission was very critical since a a few million unemployed youth werepinning their hopes for their futures on it. The youth (referred to as “candidates”in UPSDM terminology) were eager for the training and employmentopportunities which otherwise were inaccessible to them.
The actual training would be imparted by the Mission’straining partners (referred to as TP). Choosingthe right Training Partners was critical. The variousschemes for skills development launched by theCentral Government had to be studied thoroughlyto ease the candidates’ burden and maximise theirbenefit from the schemes. Assessors needed to beempanelled to assess candidates and grade their performance.The entire process was to be automated to reduce bureaucratic delays. The central information system was designed to engage with all parties (candidates,TP, assessors, and Mission management) to reduce off-line and manual
The Mission works with candidates, Training Partners, assessors, and
Potential recruiters

Solutions

Merce designed the software as a centralised system with a browser interface.Our team built the portal and Website in a phased manner. In the initialphases, one of the biggest challenges was to handle the load of dozens oftransactions per second, and millions of hits on the static site per day. Withtight budgets and lengthy bureaucratic procedures, procuring hardware andprovisioning for Internet bandwidth was too slow to be practical. After abrief consultation with the Mission and their partners, Merce took a boldstep to move the entire setup to a public cloud. This was one of the first bolddecisions by the Mission management.

Merce first launched the portal for candidate registration with performanceoptimisations at the application, database and hardware levels. The applicationwas being accessed simultaneously every day from over 2,000 computersat 100+ locations during the candidate registration phase. During some periods,100+ database transactions were being performed per second, sustained
over several minutes.

Poor and unstable Internet connectivity from variousoutlying districts made application access difficult.Significant design changes were done to theapplication’s user interface and back-end processeswithin two weeks of the launch to address thesechallenges.

The Mission’s stated goal in the project RFP was to serve about 25 lakh (2.5 million) candidates over athree-year period.

However, the number of candidate registrations over thefirst two months exceeded 45 lakh (4.5 million), exceeding the Mission’s mostoptimistic projections. Candidate registration had to be suspended for temporaryperiods to handle the back-office manual processing load and allocatecapacity to respond to the candidates. On certain days, new candidate registrationstouched 2 lakh (200,000) in a single day. During this period, thesoftware system performed reliably.Another critical requirement was batch creation. Candidates needed to begrouped into batches for a particular round of a course, keeping dozens offactors in mind. The application needed to match the candidates and theschemes offered by the Mission. Each candidate profile needed to pass throughthe batch creation engine, which assessed various parameters of the candidateprofile and matched it against multiple parameters defined under eachscheme. Also, the mission itself had certain criteria of forming a batch, e.g.the mix of male and female candidates or mix of SC/ST and general-category
Candidates. The three-fold complex algorithm required software to be designedvery carefully so that each constraint was considered when formingeach batch. The sheer number of registered candidates (40 lakh+) made theprocess more complex. Merce’s technical excellence was called into play toaddress these requirements.

The Mission is running successfully with well-defined processes and guidelineswhich have been formulated and codified by EY’s process consultingteam. Its entire life cycle is monitored and managed using the single portaldesigned, developed and maintained by Merce.

Other modules included

Training Partner registration

Inspection module for training center

Attendance module

Candidate profile management

Training center creation and management

Assessment Body (AB) registration and workflow

MIS reports for the overall control of the scheme