Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur and VC, Karl Mehta has launched Code For India (CFI) to empower the country’s citizens to actively participate in improving their communities.
Themed “Think Local, Hack Global”, Code For India is based in Mountain View, CA and Bangalore, India and expects to inspire millions of techies to volunteer their time and talent to give back to their communities and to the developing world. CFI is looking to enlist Indian-origin tech professionals, some who are software engineers from Microsoft, Google, eBay, VISA and Facebook among others to join other volunteers and organizations to give back to their community.
Think Local, Hack Global
Organizations such as TiE Silicon Valley, TiE Mumbai, TiE New Delhi and The Morpheus Fund and several others are among the first to support CFI. Professor Vijay Pande of Stanford University, Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Manipal Global Education and Vish Mishra, Venture Director at Clearstone and mentor to The Hive and The Fabric have joined CFI’s Advisory Board.
The teams of volunteer individuals and organizations are not just in for hype.
Tools to fight day-to-day public service issues
According to Mehta who says is a firm believer in the power of crowdsourced and open sourced technology, “We have created Code For India to provide tools to fight day-to-day public service issues.”
“Code For India’s use of technology will promote transparency, participation and efficiency in the way local people can voice their concern and find solutions. The transformative power of technology will aid India — and other developing countries facing similar problems,” Mehta added.
CFI is off the ground and into action already. As part of their support to CFI, LiveImpact.org and Pratham, have launched the “Adopt a School” app to help anyone access student performance data in local public schools. With just a mobile phone, the app connects volunteers at primary schools even in remote villages and gives them the ability to collect and report data. The data increases transparency and consequently accountability for teachers in the classroom at the crumbling public school system.
Another great achievement already is a garbage and pothole reporting application dubbed Spotter.in. Spotter makes reporting of civic infrastructure problems simple for citizens and allows civic action groups to collect data and mobilize action. It also sends municipality agencies latest reports on what needs to be done, quick.
Woes at home, timely initiative
Mehta is right about the plan and Code For India is a timely initiative. According to the New York Times, the country’s inability to pull hundreds of millions out of desperate poverty despite decades of robust economic growth has been one of history’s great governance failures and economic mysteries. The country’s currency, the rupee has fallen to its lowest against the dollar and growth has fallen to 5 percent annually and foreign investors are turning away, and the stock market is not impressive.
However, India has top academicians and engineers around the world. Some of them include Nobel Prize winner and Harvard professor Amartya Sen and Columbia University’s professor Jagdish Bhagwati. There are thousands out there too, many of them engineers building companies in Silicon Valley just like Mehta.
Over 20 years of experience
Now, just a few of them heed to the think local hack global goal, and join the Venture Partner at Menlo Ventures with over 20 years of experience in building and funding technology companies in the U.S. and international markets, something great will happen.
Mehta is not calling guys to join a gamble. He build a venture, PlaySpan Inc. and sold it to VISA Inc. in 2011. A year before that, Mehta was awarded ‘The Entrepreneur of the Year’ for Northern California by Ernst & Young. He also served as a White House Presidential Innovation fellow under the Obama administration during 2012-13. Mehta too has been appointed by Governor Brown to the Workforce Investment Board in California. Its time to code for India.