New Delhi: A hackathon is an innovative computer programming challenge done on a marathon mode. The computer programmers are challenged to create a software programme that would address a social or educational issue, by working continuously for 36 hours. Finally, the programme or software prepared is tested for accuracy, robustness and utility by experts, before adjudging them. The starting point of the Smart India hackathon is the Digital India, Start up India and Make in India campaigns, which need skilled and innovative workforce. Although Indians played a major role in building robust technology systems worldwide, creation of IT products within the Country has a lot of unexploited potential. One reason for this is the preoccupation of the students with finding a job, rather than creating units that provide jobs. Such a creation can come only with out-of-the-box thinking, through disruption of the business-as-usual approach.
According to the statistics of World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), India registers 40 patents per million population as against 396 per million population of China. In 2015, 38 per cent of all Patents filed in the world are from China, as against two per cent contribution by India. Considering the intellectual capability of Indians, there is a lot that can be done in the field of innovation. The drive to improve innovation has to begin in the educational institutions. This can be done by encouraging students to apply knowledge to the real-life situations, and to find innovative solutions to the day-to-day problems.
The Smart India Hackathon (SIH) is intended for promoting innovation, out-of-the-box thinking in young minds, especially engineering students. It is focused on the problems of social importance as identified by 29 Ministries and Departments of Govt of India. The problem statements identified by the Ministries/Departments were placed on the MyGov website, inviting students (in groups of 6 students with at least one female student and two mentors) to come forward to send ideas and outlines of a possible solution. Leadership talks were broadcast through facebook live.
Orientation and awareness programmes were conducted by AICTE and I4C in 26 different cities to motivate students to participate in this event. As many as 7531 entries were received from 2100 colleges. Ministry of HRD spearheaded the campaign through AICTE as the main anchor. IT industry especially M/S i4C and Persistent Systems, and NASSCOM have led the effort. The Central government intends to make SIH an annual affair and the brand of Smart India Hackathon would be built so that more students are attracted into participation.