Reports

Rajasthan Government has invited 500 ‘hackers’, find out why

Before the headline is confused as any attempt by the BJP Government of Rajasthan planning to hack into some EVM machines, we assure you that the ‘hackers’ have not been invited for that. The Rajasthan Government has instead organised a ‘Hackathon‘, the first by any state government in order to promote and improve its improve its digital infrastructure.

So first, what exactly is a Hackathon? Though the name may suggest so, it is not an event in which a bunch of people break into a secure system to find flaws in it, which is known as ethical hacking. Hackathon is a combination of two words – Hack and Marathon – and hack in this case means a way to perform playful programming.

So at a Hackathon, a large number of people meet up at a venue for a day or two and collectively, or in different teams, write a piece of code to create software projects like a mobile app or website from scratch. Goal is to create a working prototype in a very short amount of time. In most cases, Hackathon organizers provide participants a digital platform on which they create their project.

So if you are a software geek, it’s a really cool place to be at as you can connect with a bunch of very smart tech guys and put your coding ability to the test by operating in a rigorous and fast paced manner (you just have 1-2 days to create your project). Apart from the experience and the prizes, there’s a lot of food to get you going.

The Hackathon by Rajasthan Government commenced today noon and will continue till tomorrow 11:00 AM as part of its IT day celebrations. We managed to connect with Nikhil Kumar who is a fellow, iSPIRT, which is the official partner of the Rajasthan Government in managing the whole affair.

he informed that over 3500 teams had applied after the announcement was made on 16th February, and out of those, 200 teams were shortlisted for the Hackathon. He further explained why this one was special:

  1. It is the first time a state government in India is organizing a Hackathon
  2. It is the first time the government is providing its own digital platforms on which the participants can create their project.
  3. The winners instead of being given cash rewards, would be provided with work orders to the tune of 15 lakh, 10 lakh and 7.5 lakh. This means the teams can see their work getting put to constructive use by the Rajasthan Government.

The winners will be decided by a Jury set up by the Rajasthan Government comprising of eminent citizens, which includes Infosys’s ex-CFO Mohandas Pai. The three winning teams would be felicitated by the Rajasthan CM after the Hackathon ends.

As you are reading this report, there are 500 people breaking their sweat (not literally as the room is air-conditioned) to implement the ideas they submitted during the first phase.

Some of the shortlisted ideas include creating a cloud based crowd sourced blood bank using the Bhamasha interface. The Bhamasha scheme is a digital cash transfer scheme used by the Rajasthan Government to transfer cash benefits directly to a family’s bank account. One of the chief features of the scheme is woman empowerment were the lady of the house is considered as the family head and the Bhamasha card plus the bank account is created in her name.

The teams are also using the E-Mitra platform which is Rajasthan government’s online service kiosk playing host to a variety of online services. The ideas based on E-Mitra include creating a virtual poll facility, a book sharing platform using the interface.

Below are a few scenes from the event shared by Nikhil:

  

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