3rd Smart India Hackathon 2019 grand finale on March 2, 3: Looking to mix technology with human brilliance

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Published: February 25, 2019 12:32:38 AM

SIH sees smart communication, healthcare & biomedical devices, agriculture & rural development, smart vehicles, food technology, robotics & drone waste management, clean water, renewable energy, security & surveillance and anything not listed here under ‘miscellaneous’.

Hackathons are not one-off events that conjure solutions to all the concerns. (Representational/Reuters)

Richard Branson’s words befittingly fit in the context of hackathons, and I quote: “Abundance provides proof that the proper combination of technology, people and capital can meet any grand challenge.”

As the Smart India Hackathon rolls into its third year, the concept of crowd-sourcing brilliance (read talent) has gained currency like never before. The latest episode, SIH 2019, March 2-3, engages around 1 lakh students, 3,000 technical institutions and 200 organisations from across India.

The idea of a hackathon hinges on integrating the otherwise scattered talent into a purposive scheme. It has at the centre the cruciality of human talent, empathy and ingenuity laced with the power of technology, with developers, programmers and designers working in sprints to develop a feasible solution to a given live challenge drawn from the industry. At an allocated venue, they shape up the solution. Coders are the very life of the entire process.

Going by the SIH 2019 website, it is a “nationwide initiative to provide students a platform to solve some of pressing problems we face in our daily lives, and thus inculcate a culture of product innovation and a mindset of problem solving.” Another interesting character of SIH is the rallying of the influence and expertise of the three elements of society—policymakers, industry and academics.

The themes are spectacularly arrayed. SIH sees smart communication, healthcare & biomedical devices, agriculture & rural development, smart vehicles, food technology, robotics & drone waste management, clean water, renewable energy, security & surveillance and anything not listed here under ‘miscellaneous’.

Also, the hackathon marks the current generation mentoring the ingenuity of the newer generation to resolve the challenges of the times. Issues like environment, agriculture, water, waste are transboundary and supranational in nature, and need collaborative efforts of a befitting magnitude and bandwidth. Hackathons can be a crucial tool to achieve the same.
The upshot

Another equation that emerges out of the entire exercise is mixing technology with human brilliance, concern and empathy, and what you would see on hands is happiness. A word of caution, though: hackathons are not one-off events that conjure solutions to all the concerns. Beyond doubt, since they bring together policymakers, industry and academics, we get to know where exactly are the roadblocks and how to work around them.

-The author is group director, Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research

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