Category Archives: consultation



Sikkim State Government passed an open data policy Sikkim Open Data Acquisition and Accessibility Policy in 2014. With pushing from the Chief Minister and Member of Parliament the Honorable Prem Das Rai they turned to open data to take control of the state’s data. The Honorable Mr PD Rai has repeatedly mentioned is the lack of access to government information on demand. It is not uncommon for lawmakers to ask questions only to have to wait a day or more for the answer and lose a moment to use that information for decision making.

An Open Data for Human Development Workshop was organized by the International Centre for Human Development of UNDP India, with the Centre for Internet and Society, AKVO, Mapbox and DataMeet co-facilitating the event in Bangalore last June. The aim was to bring together members of the Sikkim government, IT professionals, and open data enthusiasts.


In April before the workshop Sumandro (CIS) and I went to Sikkim to have a pre consultation with the Sikkim government on how to prepare for the large workshop in Bangalore. We met with the MP and the heads of the Rural Development, Health, and IT departments to discuss their plans to implement their open data policy. Then there was a large meeting with all the departments and the MP. We presented different things you can do when data is opened and offered suggestions for how to implement the policy. 20150416_123613The departments took turns discussing their issues regarding implementation; concerns like server space, technology needs, how to create incentives to accurate and timely data uploading were shared.

We presented things for them to think about in a preparation for the June event and for how to work with the open data community in India.

In June the workshop was held as NIAS. Thej gave a session on data tools that can be used to assemble, clean, analyze, publish and visualize data. Some of the tools that he introduced and used during the workshop are

  • Tabula Its difficult to extract data from PDFs. But Tabula allows you to extract that data into a CSV or Microsoft Excel spreadsheet using a simple, easy-to-use interface. Tabula works on Mac, Windows and Linux.
  • Open Refine – is a powerful tool for working with messy data: cleaning it; transforming it from one format into another; extending it with web services; and linking it to databases like Freebase.
  • DataWrapper allows you to create powerful charts very easily.
  • CartoDB is the Easiest Way to Map and Analyze Your Location Data

“Overall interaction was great. Delegates from Sikkim were very interested in DataMeet community and work we do as community. Some part of the workshop was used to introduce the community aspect of Data.”

You can see the full notes of the event at Centre for Internet and Society’s blog.

We are looking forward to see Sikkim be the first state to implement an open data portal using the Data.Gov.In platform.

Investing in Data: Pre Budget Consultation with the Finance Minister

Last Thursday DataMeet was lucky to be invited to a Pre Budget Consultation with the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. We were invited to attend with the IT sector group and give some suggestions on how the next budget could invest in open data.

After some consulting with the various city chapter organizers we came up with some recommendations that could appeal to this audience.  We decided to emphasize that government data is a financial asset that needed to be invested in, in order for it to reach its optimal economic impact.  A stance the US government made in it’s open data policy.

You can read the note we submitted here:

The meeting was Thursday morning in Delhi at the Finance Ministry offices, Sumandro came to represent CIS and I attended to represent DataMeet.

The Finance Minister was there along with the Secretaries;
Shri R.N. Watal, Finance Secretary, Shri Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, DEA, Dr. Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue Secretary, Ms Anjuli Chib Duggal, Secretary, Financial Services and Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser (CEA).

It was a round table and the participants were organized by software and hardware, and we presented in the order we were seated.

  1. Shri Ramadas Kamath, Infosys,
  2. Shri P.V.Srinivasan, WIPRO,
  3. Shri Anil Chanana, CFO, HCL,
  4. Shri Pauroos D Karkaria,TCS,
  5. Shri R. Chandrashekhar, Chief Economist, NASSCOM,
  6. Ms Nisha Tompson, Founder, Datameet,
  7. Shri Vinod Sharma, Chairman, Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council,
  8. Shri Nitin Kunkolienker, Vice President, Manufactures Association for Information Technology (IT),
  9. Shri Rajoo Goel, ELCINA Electronic Industries Association of India,
  10. Shri Hari Om Rai, Co-Chairman Task Force on Mobile Phone Manufacturing,
  11. Shri Suraj Saharan Ajit Pai, COO,Delhivery,
  12. Shri Sumandro, the Centre for Internet & Society and
  13. Shri Vikas Jain, Member, Task Force on Mobile Phone Manufacturing

While most of the suggestions were related to tax breaks, subsidies, and trade issues, I was able to introduce the idea that the Government of India’s data is an economic asset that can help create markets, increase innovation, and allow for more accountability in scheme implementation. In order for the data to do these things it has to be opened up and that means the government must invest in the NDSAP policy and focus on data standardization, cleanup,  and collection. Also policies need to be reviewed and revamped in order to keep up with demand and use of data. Like the mapping policy should allow for more contributions from private sources and crowdsourcing so the Survey of India can keep up with demand for geospatial information. The Copyright Act also needs a clarification on the status of data and the Ministries must be willing to release data under open licenses.

In all the meeting was short, with the main focus being toward how to encourage manufacturing sectors because of the Make in India initiative. I was happy to be there and mention ideas and concepts that were not being discussed in rooms like that one and to also offer a perspective on open data.

We hope to keep in touch with the Ministry and continue to take advantage of any opportunity to share our experiences and views on how an investment in data can be a huge economic asset to India.

You can see the Government’s Press Release here.