National Informatics Centre (NIC) which is the Information Technology wing of the Government of India, has launched an instant messaging platform called ‘Sandes’, an Indigenous alternative to the popular messaging service WhatsApp. Though it has yet not been available for the public, it can only be used internally among Government employees and those agencies which are attached to the Government. Similar to the popular global messaging app WhatsApp, the brand new NIC platform can be used for every type of communication with the minimum requirement of a mobile number or an email address. Let us try to understand why ‘Sandes’ was created and the mechanism of this messaging platform.
Birth of ‘Sandes’
Since the beginning of the first tenure NDA government, the BJP had the idea to develop an indigenous instant messaging app. However, the real work had started in early 2020. When the deadly virus started spreading and the country declared it as a pandemic, the nation went into complete lockdown in March. During this period, the Government accelerated the process, as it was realized to secure end-to-end conversation among Government employees as they were discussing sensitive policy matters while working from home. In the month of August 2020, NIC presented the first version of Sandes.
With high standard thinking for securing official conversations of the Government employees, the NIC kick-started working on Government Instant Messaging System (GIMS). GIMS is an open source, cloud backed, end-to-end encrypted open source platform which is hosted on the Government of India Data Centre.
Three major parts of the Government Instant Messaging System (GIMS) are the Mobile App, the Portal, and the Gateway. The indigenous platform developed by NIS for instant and encrypted messaging within the Government and citizens was proudly named as Sandes.
How one can use Sandes?
Just like the other messaging apps, it requires a valid number or an email ID for a first time user to register. The App is integrated with other Government Apps and can be configured to manage messaging. There’s a particular management portal, which for the organization and employee enlistment, group management, message broadcasts, analytics, employee authentication, and analytics.
Email and mobile based self-registration is included in Sandes. Also, it has features such as one-to-one messaging, group chatting, supporting official, casual, and list groups, sharing of files and media, audio and video calling features, profile and contact management, broadcasting messages among others. It also has a chatbot-enabled dashboard, sounds cool enough?
Similar to WhatsApp, the web version of Sandes enables a user to send and receive messages from the web browser. From official sources, it has been confirmed that some of the future milestones: audio or video conference facility, remote backup, wiping out of data, and advanced chatbot features.
In the backdrop of troubled privacy issues between WhatsApp and Facebook, Sandes was just the exact thing Indians were waiting for.