Pranab Mukherjee, former President of India, on Friday launched Neta app, a unique technological platform which can determine the popularity of politicians and electoral candidates, using public polls. The app, which is first of its kind in India, allows voters to rate and review the political representatives in their constituencies and has been founded by Pratham Mittal.
The launch event also saw the presence of dignitaries such as Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi, former Election Commissioners S.Y. Quraishi and Nasim Zaidi, former Law Minister Ashwini Kumar, MP and former HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, Former Home Minister of India Shivraj Patil and Minister of State of Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla.
The Neta app has been beta tested during Alwar and Ajmer by-elections and elections in North East and Karnataka earlier in the year. According to the company, over 1.5 crore verified voters have already rated or reviewed their local leaders across all 543 parliamentary constituencies and 4120 assembly constituencies in the country on the app, within eight months.
"The idea is if there is public readerboard, which has a public rating for all the politicians in a specific constituency, it would make them accountable. Today the politicians are getting checked only during elections. If they are checked every day, they will have this incentive to work hard, and work sincerely every day. This can change the way Indian democracy functions," Mittal had told Business Today in an earlier conversation in June.
Mittal, a 27-year-old University of Pennsylvania graduate, has already founded a polling company in the US, Outgrow and moved to India to start Indian operations. He holds two degrees, one in statistics and another in political science.
The app is available on Android, iOS and web in 16 languages keeping in mind the diverse user profile. In order to ensure participation across demographics, including the rural heartlands, Neta app uses multiple mediums like the app, IVR calls, SMS and even offline activations with the help of Aashawadi and Aanganwadi workers, to gather data on the evolving political inclinations. To counter misuse of app and fake profiles, the app uses Aadhar data and data from voter rolls, so that each profile is verified and is unique.
The app has not been monetised yet and Mittal says he plans to keep it that way for a while.
"Right now we are creating an asset. For me asset is the data and the users and the activity that is happening on the app. When you are in the business of data, you have to defer business model for a while. First you build your asset then monetise it," Mittal says.
He has not accepted outside funds and is using his own investments to fund the app as this, he says, helps them maintain an apolitical stance.