Interview with a Hackathon participant, team leader

Recently, we had one of the world’s biggest digital product development Hackathon held in India.
The event was held in 26 cities across the countries and a whooping 10,000 students participated in it.

One of them was my cousin Akash and his team stood 7th among 89 teams who had participated from Nagpur. *Applauds*

First of all, I would like to congratulate Akash and his team for such a wonderful achievement. And also thank you for making time for this interview.

I mailed Akash a set of questions for the interview and he very gladly answered them.

Can you tell us more about the event?

Name of the Event – Smart India Hackathon
This event was held in 28 centers all over India on 1st and 2nd April 2017. Initially we were asked to submit the synopsis of your project that we had selected and then they had a selection process for selecting interest ideas.
Our Center- Nagpur(Ramdeo baba college of engineering)
Department – Ministry Of Road Transport and highways.
Hackathon is basically an event where various teams are given certain task to perform(technical task) in a given time span.
This event was different as we already knew our topics but they projects where so huge and complicated that we could complete them in weeks prior to the event.
So we were ask to create a prototype and then judging panel will instruct us some changes in it and those changes we have to perform in 36 hrs.

How were you informed about the event?
One of my college friend informed us about the event and rest of the information was available on

What was your and your teams approach about the event? Or how did  you form the team?
It was basically new experience for all my mates. We didn’t know we would get selected for the report. We all worked extremely hard for making just a 20-30 page report (We were selected of our report).
I personally contacted students who were interested for this event and ready to do the hard work required. Initially we decided to form two teams, but some students backed off and we were able to form only one team.

Can you tell us more about your team?

Team Members –
1. Akash Kulkarni (myself) – team leader
2. Sarvesh Nerurkar
3. Shubham More
4. Aditya Thanekar
5. Pratik Deoolwadikar
6. Prasad Vishwakarma

Team mentors
1. Sachin Malave(H.O.D)
2. Amol Kalugade(Asst. Professor)

I think our team was very well-balanced. As we had one professional Android developer(Aditya), he has been learning android from 3 years.
All other members were Familiar with Java, SQL, database connectivity and project management techniques.
Our two mentors were also extremely supportive in the whole process.

I hear you were the team lead? How does that feels? 😉
I was very happy as well as nervous when I was elected as a team leader for the particular event. I never had experience of leading a technical team before.
All of my team members and mentors were supportive and respected my decision at each and every step. I always like new challenges and I accepted this challenge with no problems and regrets. In fact this was first time our college for present at a national event and me being the leader it was a proud moment for me.

What was the environment at the event?
I must say environment was very enthusiastic as well as very much competitive.
Two days before the event all teams were residing in a hostel.
All students from different colleges, states and culture coming together for great event was very much interesting.
During the event initially all teams and students were pretty nervous but as time passed by all teams started interacting.
Competing for 36 hours is not an easy job but it was so much to learn from.

Was Mr Modi, our prime minister, present at the event?
This event was held at 28 different locations simultaneously, so practically it wouldn’t have been possible for honourable PM Mr. Narendra Modiji to attend the each site.|Narendra Modi acknowledged each and every center for 10-15 mins via webcam.
His words of wisdom were nothing but inspiration to us.

I have read in the news that there were 598 problem statements from 29 different government departments.
So how did you get yours?What was the procedure?What was it?
Yes there were total 598 problem statements for 29 different ministers and department.
We all knew our strength and weakness, so we didn’t select the problems which were not feasible to us at current moment because the submission day for report was 31 st January 2017 and we came to about the event on 23 rd January. So we had less time to think and create an interesting report.

Problem Selection –
As we had an excellent android developer, we decided to select an app base problem. We also thought of selecting a problem which will help masses directly.
So as we were exploring the problems in Road and transport ministry, we found online toll payment app problem and then selected it.

Procedure –
Create project synopsis and submit on website with college permission.

How was that experience of coding with your team for 36 straight hours and in that environment?
Again it was an amazing experience, very exhausting though as we slept for only 2 hours during an event and also had many sleepless night before the event just like last-minute submissions night out in college.

Any funny/memorable incident?
Had one during night out in the college. While we were working and decided to take coffee break, we just went out of room and suddenly there were bats all over the passage of the floor, flying blindly. We all were really panicked, and then one of the friends went shirtless and attack those bats until they ran away.
Our whole 3 months span was fun and exciting.

It's all about learning….!!!! Just nagpur things..!! #baburao #koniwifidetakawifi #smartindiahackathon2017

A post shared by Akash Kulkarni (@akash_kulkarni96) on

Did you have performance pressure? 🙂
At first we didn’t have any pressure and soon when we started going into depth of the project we realised that it is not an easy one to execute.
Plus Whole college was very positive about the going.
Literally had meetings with H.O.Ds of all department, our principal Sir were also very much interested in our work.
So slowly pressure of performance started to build up and I am very much happy to say that none of us was beaten by the pressure but instead all started working more harder.

What did you and your team take back with you from this event?
We literally learned millions things from this event and not only from the event but from the whole Process. On very first day we all decided “For us it’s not winning it’s about learning”.
We learnt that there is always a scope for improvement and never keep your search is narrow space, always think of bigger and impossible things, if we do that then we realise nothing is impossible.
For those 3 months about 10000 Indian students thought about problem faced by India and why India is behind, not only they thought they gave their priceless efforts for solving it.
Instead of mocking and blaming the Government for all ill things happening we young people should work harder and create better things for own people and for own country.
Why should we outsource our problems if we can tackle it ourselves?
Make your people proud, and think logically always.

Any feedback, good or bad, you would like to give about the event?
Off course a great Event. I certainly want to be part of many more events and learn something

I think my first interview went quite well 🙂 Altough Akash took a little longer to reply the questions, but he is still in time!
Once again, thank you for the time. And I wish Akash and each one of his team members very good luck for your future endeavors.

I am starting a new series on my blog, where I will take interview of people I already know like my friends, family or acquintances. This will give them me an opportunity to know more about them and learn about their experience. It might also help them to think about their experiences and think a little louder 🙂 I hope that the readers to find it interesting. Do let me know what you think about it.

Elections in Netherlands

“You can ask Dutch people anything, except their salary and politics”

That was a friendly advice my colleague gave me when we were discussing Dutch people.

Just 2 days ago, there were national elections in Netherlands. And the day seemed to be as normal as any other day. Nobody discussing anything, nobody coming late or leaving early for voting, nobody busy in their mobiles or checking news.

Having witnessed 2014 elections in India, this was totally unexpected for me. I wouldn’t have known there are elections unless one of the colleagues would have told me so. I was little apprehensive to inquire more because of that friendly advice I had received. So I started with some general questions.

The Dutch go for election after every 4 years. They don’t have a leave or a half day leave for voting. This is because the voting is open for long time, from 8 in the morning to 9 in the evening! And there are many places where they can vote. Considering the very small population they have, I think it should be very comforting.

They still use paper ballot. While they are so technically advanced in every other thing, they don’t seem to trust technology when it comes to EVMs. In last election they did try to bring the machines but immediately gave up for the next one.

Most of the campaigning happens online. See, they don’t think that they won’t make an impact unless they make a public appearance. However, they participate in debates on TV channels. They also circulate pamphlets, but only in the crowded places. I didn’t get a single of those.


If I had chance, I would have voted this guy! He is not just cute but he also got elected in Amsterdam!

The counting begins immediately after 9 pm and the first result is declared in 5 minutes! That too without machines!! By the time I was in office next day, the results were already out! Ha! And still nobody discussed anything about it!

It is kind of exactly opposite of what happens in India.

We have heated discussions about politics and some may even choose to stay away from their close friends who disagree with them. And after 3 years of election, we still continue to have same arguments. When my friends’ party (it means the party that he supported) won in national elections, they had small celebration and they sent me photos to tease. In the next state election, when my party (obviously, the party that I supported) won, I too celebrated by cutting a cake!

Campaigning happens both online and in public. But we need both types to appeal different genre of people. There are rallies held in open public areas,(but never a debate in public) prime minister candidates never face each other in public. The public attendance in these rallies is used as a major to guess the leader’s popularity.

We use EVMs. We trust machines more than people 😛 In spite of using machines, there are ways in which we can cheat. So many names go missing from the voters list every time. So many names appear. I don’t know details, but I think Dutch elections are more fare than Indian elections. And considering our population, it is not feasible that we don’t go for paper and pen elections. But it still take some time to count the votes.

I will do like to mention here that, although many things here support the advice I got, one of my another colleagues actually revealed me who he was going to vote for! And he is also source of most of the information that he shared. In India, on the contrary, we might be shouting from the rooftops who we support, yet, when someone asks us on the voting day “Who did you vote for?” we will always reply, “Sorry, we shouldn’t reveal that.”

Happiness is….

It happened so that – my brother who is a marine engineer and sails on ship for 6 months, away from home, away from land, happened to meet my husband who has gone to Netherlands for 4 months now for his office work!!!


Cool and Handsome!

They must be together for just 2 to 3 hours but this quick meet between the 2 has made our families, here in India, so happy!
And i was like on the top of the world! 7th heaven or 9th pillar or whatever best one can think of!

This happy moment activated my creativity bud to such an extent that i took a pencil in my hand and drew out my feelings!


I couldn’t stop myself from sharing it!

I think it was an important day of my life!