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Information is wealth

July 22nd, 2012

Some of you may remember the Telugu/Tamil movie ‘Boys’ in which a beggar collects information about which day which temple offers free food(prasadam) and he uses it and asks others to go and stand in line. And when they ask why they can not do it themself, he says ‘Information is wealth” and they don’t have the information on when and where to stand.

This is very good point to learn from that movie. It is true for all of us. If you know correct information and you know how to use it, then it is much more valuable than lot of hard work. This is true for individuals and true for any entity.

Now lets take a political party. How much is the value of the information for its existence? Some information is lot more valuable and based on which the survival of the party depends. In fact entire party functionality is run by processing information. Here is some examples of the information which are needed for running any party.

  1. What are the problems of general public? And how many people suffer from each problem?
  2. What are the govt schemes and how good they are working?
  3. Is there any corruption in those schemes? What are the complaints?
  4. How much donations did we receive this year?
  5. How many new members joined? What is the rate of growth?
  6. What are the various programs run by the party? And how many members will attend each one?
  7. Who are the major contributors to the party? What is their age group?
  8. What are the various activities done by a party member?

This list is unlimited. Every decision made by the party depends on such information. It is not only true for the party, it is true for every contributor and every member. If I want to donate some funds to party, I want to know what it is doing with it. I want to know how much money it actually collecting. What is its expenses, and what are the activities it is doing.

Now lets suppose I want to contribute say Rs10,000 to the party and before I do, I want a clarification on some thing from the party president. What should be the approach? Can anyone expect what will be my time spent for this task? According to me, it is almost impossible. Because I don’t know what are the various roles in the party, and who are working on those roles. I don’t know their phone numbers and email addresses. If I don’t know who will read my mail which is sent to info@party.com why will I even send that mail? And what incentive will I have if I don’t know when I will get a response, and as I am sure that it is not read by Party President, I want to know who is making the decision to show to him or not.

Here is what I think is needed for a party to run in this age of information.

  1. Complete real time financial transactions and accounting data accessible to members
  2. Ability to contribute to specific activity or program and real-time information on how & when that is spent
  3. Communication system where every communication and decision is made.

I want to give an example of how the 3rd point works.

I sent a mail to info@party.com, a ticket is created for the person assigned to reply to it. Every member can see tickets of all members and how many are pending etc. Every ticket will have 2 parts, public and private. Public information any one can see, private information only recipients or those shared will see.

At any point of timeĀ  only one member is responsible for that ticket. And as any one can see how many are pending for each person, may be they can offer help in clearing them, or they can judge how the person is working. Each person have to clear their pending tickets within a reasonable time, otherwise people will keep asking about it.

More people can choose to participate on a ticket which will increase its rating and its urgency. In this way more people can join for a single information request. This will consolidate duplicate work and increase accountability.

If I ask a stupid question to a Party President, then instead of being ignored, I need some one to reply me saying ‘that it is stupid for So and so reason’. If they don’t have time, then they can take help of lot of other members who spend lot of time on Internet without knowing how else they can contribute to the party.

If there is a meeting, it has to be announced in the system, and who attended, and what are the decisions. Take advantage of moderators to keep the system clean, and create read-only posts when needed. But let every activity is recorded and questionable by other members.

I am sure that a good party will receive 2 to 5 times more contributions if they keep this kind of transparent system in place.

I know, it is not easy to create such a system. But I am sure it is needed. I am planning of how to do it, and once I am ready and it is not done by others by that time, I will do it with the help of others.