This Independence Day, here are 18 innovative ideas that are transforming India

This Independence Day, we celebrate by taking a peek at some of our country's greatest achievements.

It's 2018 and we've completed 72 years as a free country and what better way to reflect on this journey than to look at what lays the ground for the coming decades? From battling maternal mortality to transforming agriculture by embracing ancient farming techniques, here are 18 innovative ideas and projects that we think will usher India into a new era!

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

Sun to the rescue: How solar power is feeding an energy-hungry India

Rishi solar panels

How solar power is feeding an energy-hungry India

When the Beatles recorded Here Comes The Sun in 1969, little did they — or anyone else around at the time — know what the title can come to mean vis-à-vis 21st-century energy needs around the world. In India, the Sun has managed to light up a million homes even after dropping itself below the horizon every evening, in addition to being integral to the functioning of light and heavy industries.

With our solar capacity reaching 23 GW as of 30 June 2018 (the utility electricity sector in India has an installed capacity of 345.5 GW in total), solar power is one of India’s fastest developing sectors. In the last four years alone, India has expanded its solar-generation capacity by eight times, achieving the milestone four years ahead of the target for 2022. And the proof of the pudding is for all to see.

In June, Kerala’s Cochin International Airport — which is the world’s first fully solar-powered airport — received the United Nation’s highest environmental accolade for its achievements in renewable energy conservation. Using over 46,000 solar panels spread out in a vast field to tap the bright sunlight and convert into energy, the airport now produces more energy than it requires.

Continuing with world records in solar energy, India also has the world’s largest solar park; the Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, spread over an area of almost 6,000 acres in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district, employs over 4 million solar panels to reach a capacity of a whopping 1,000 MW.

The list of large Indian solar farms is endless, and it’s a good sign for a country with increasing energy needs for a rapidly growing population.

Here are some of the other notable mentions that are easing the load on the (literally) age-old fossil fuels: the 10 sq km-wide Kamuthi Solar Power Project in Tamil Nadu, the 2,225 MW Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan, Gujarat’s 5,384 acre-wide Charanka Solar Park and the 125 MW Sakri Solar Plant in Maharashtra.

Building assistive technologies for the specially abled

Building assistive technologies for the differently abled

Building assistive technologies for the differently abled

As India surges ahead in socio-economic indices across different strata of society, it becomes imperative that nobody is left behind in this national endeavour, even those discriminated against based on mobility or physical abilities.

Multiple indigenous technological innovations such as the Blee Watch — a slick smart-watch designed for the hearing impaired — are helping bridge this gap for specially abled Indians.

Designed by Janhavi Joshi and Nupura Kirloskar from Mumbai, the Blee Watch converts sound waves into vibration feedback and colour codes to alert users to myriad emergency sounds from a ringing doorbell to a baby’s cry.

Other products from the duo include Ask Blee (a Whatsapp number where users can ask questions about anything from general knowledge to grammar, and the questions are responded to in ISL — Indian Sign Language) and Blee TV (entertainment and education videos made in ISL to break barriers between the hearing and the deaf, all on one digital platform).

Thankfully, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and there are scores of other Indian innovators who are designing cutting-edge tech for people with disabilities.

While Mumbai-based Ezy Mov provides a wide fleet of wheelchair taxis fitted with equipment like hydraulic lifts and wheelchair restraint systems, iGest has designed and built wearable devices that track the gestures of mute people and speaks for them.

Another Indian innovation that has created a buzz worldwide is the range of Lechal footwear. Also available on Amazon, these GPS and Bluetooth-enabled, battery-operated shoes help people navigate busy and crowded streets by giving detailed route guidance through simple vibrations and patterns. It also remembers the routes taken and counts the steps walked, helping the visually impaired bid adieu to the cane.

These, along with countless other assistive technologies, are helping build a more resilient and inclusive society, and will hopefully inspire and interest other innovators as well. These innovations will, however, only aid the much-needed policy changes when it comes to citizens with disabilities.

Making India green again

Unique efforts from resolute Indians are changing India's environment.

Unique efforts from resolute Indians are changing India's environment.

As India grapples with record levels of deforestation due to mass urbanisation, our forest cover continues to comes under immense stress. Delhi’s deteriorating air quality has become the poster child for the ill-effects of mindless construction and industrial activity. But while collective ignorance and the apathy of government and civic society is leading us to a scary future, one man has emerged as the messiah of afforestation in India. Jadav Payeng, from Assam is dubbed ‘The Forest Man’ of India.

Payeng grew a 1,400-acre forest in the Majuli island of the Brahmaputra river by simply planting saplings since 1979. The forest is known as Mulai Kathoni (Kathoni in Assamese means forest)

Payeng’s phenomenal work was first spotted by Jitu Kalita, a photojournalist from the Assamese Prantik. This brought immense recognition for him, including a Padma Shri award.

Today, the world’s largest riverine island is home to rhinos, snakes, tigers, elephants and a complex and matured ecosystem of species, all thanks to the efforts one man.

In yet another great example, a Rajasthani village in Rajsamand district called Piplantri has the unarguable distinction of being a feminist eco-crusader.

For over a decade, every time a girl child is born in this village, the villagers plant 111 trees. For a state with a child sex ratio of 888 to 1,000, the villagers are extremely gender-progressive and environmentally conscious.

The initiative was led by the village sarpanch himself after he lost his daughter at childbirth. Similarly, when someone dies in the village, they plant 11 trees in the name of the deceased.

Indus OS is ensuring that language is no longer a barrier for smartphone users

Nimish Indus OS (1)

A mobile operating system by Indians for Indians

While India is nearing the half a billion mark when it comes to mobile internet users, it is safe to say that a majority of these mobile internet users do not use English as their first language. India recognises around 23 official regional languages, and then there are hundreds of dialects. With the rise of smart feature phones, we're going to see a spurt in the use of regional languages on mobile phones.

While iOS and Android OS based phones will continue to sell in India, it is local player Indus OS that consistently ranks as the second-most-used operating system on phones in India. The brainchild of IIT Bombay, Rakesh Deshmukh, Akash Dongre and Sudheer B, Indus OS has over 8 million users and supports 12 regional languages. The best thing about Indus OS is that it is not just a regional translation of the English language OS, but an OS which has been built from the ground up, keeping regional language and Indian users in mind.

So while it’s based on Android, Indus OS has its own marketplace for apps called App Bazaar with over 50,000 apps, the regional language keyboard it ships with is one of a kind, letting you translate or transliterate with just a swipe. The text-to-speech feature translates and reads text aloud in your local language in real time, and much more. Here’s a list of devices that sport the Indus OS.

As the smartphone penetration increases in India, the importance of regional languages cannot be understated. Indus OS definitely has an advantage over Android and iOS as it is an Indian startup working on Indian languages, ensuring that language is no more a barrier for someone wanting to use a smartphone in India.

Zubaida Bai’s Janm clean birth kit

A Rs 250 birth kit that's saving lives

A Rs 250 birth kit that's saving lives

Selected as one of the 61 global products designed to improve life by INDEX, which recognises the best, sustainable, life-improving designs, the 'Janm clear birth kit' has helped saved the lives of thousands mothers and newborns who would otherwise have died from infections resulting from unhygienic birth practices.

As per the WHO’s maternal mortality report (1995-2015), India and Nigeria were estimated to account for over one-third of all maternal deaths worldwide in 2015, with an approximate 58,000 maternal deaths in India (19 percent) and 45,000 maternal deaths (15 percent).

By the end of 2011, Bai’s Janm birth kit had been used for around 8,000 deliveries in India.

Chennai-born Zubaida Bai’s kit is an affordable and effective clean birth kit made by an enterprise called Ayzh (eyes). She has a Masters in Engineering (product design and development) from Dalarna University, Sweden and an MBA from Colorado State University and is also a TED Fellow.

The kit costs Rs 249 and basically provides a safe and hygienic birth environment “regardless of the facility conditions." It consists of 1 x underpad, 1 x surgical blade, 1 x cord clamp, 1 x soap, 1 pair of sterile gloves, all encased in a jute pouch.

One kit is good enough for one birth and apart from providing sterilised supplies, also reduces the time taken to gather the resources needed for a delivery. Most important of all is that it provides all of the above in a purse that can be carried around. This makes it more convenient for those living in rural communities to give birth as healthcare facilities are normally very far away.

After the success of Janm, in India, Ayzh in 2013 has now designed a number of new products along similar lines including Shishu (newborn kit), Kanya (menstrual hygiene kit) and Janani (a postpartum kit).

Plastic repurposing in India

Plastic isn't the problem. We are.

Plastic isn't the problem. We are.

Single-use plastic filling up our landfills is one of the most widespread problems globally, but an even bigger problem in India.

Dr Rajagopalan Vasudevan, a professor of Chemistry at Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai found the most innovative use of plastic waste.

Plastic waste was perfect for use as a binder for binding stone and bitumen together in road construction. After testing out the composition on a 60-foot road paved in the college campus in 2006, the technology has now been used on almost 16,000 km of roads in the state of Tamil Nadu, with more use of the material planned in other states. The use of Vasudevan’s plastic binder saves about 1 tonne of bitumen (tar mixture) per kilometre and thanks to its flexible nature, also slows down the formation of potholes.

Vasudevan didn’t stop at roads. His war against the plastic menace led to the creation of another eco-friendly building material he calls ‘plastone’. Each brick is made up of nearly 300 bags of plastic and costs a mere Rs 32 each as opposed to cement blocks that cost Rs 35. The same material can be used in a variety of construction scenarios, such as paver blocks on sidewalks, reducing the need for cement blocks, while repurposing piles of plastic into long-lasting and useful materials.

Internet in India: Knowledge is power

India may not have the fastest internet in the world, but at least it's built on a fair foundation.

India may not have the fastest internet in the world, but at least it's built on a fair foundation.

Knowledge is power. There’s simply no escaping the fact. In a country rife with corruption, superstition, religion and misinformation, free access to information is key to progress. Cue in, the Internet.

At 473 million and counting, India has the second-largest internet population in the world, and that population can access a free, and mostly uncensored internet. That’s more than can be said for either the country with the world’s largest internet population (China) or the most “developed” nation (USA).

India’s internet may not be fast, but it’s being built on a solid foundation, a framework of laws that will eventually ensure free and fair access to information for all. TRAI’s recent win on net neutrality was a slap in the face for data-hungry Facebook (internet.org) and companies that looked to follow suit. The country still struggles with fake news and “Good Morning” messages are now the bane of our existence on WhatsApp, but this belies the fact that people like our grandmothers are now online. Imagine the possibilities that this opens up!

We’re seeing a huge list of projects pop up all over the country enabling internet access. Projects like RailWire offer free Wi-Fi at hundreds of railway stations across the country. Google is working on what is possibly the largest public Wi-Fi project in the world and state governments are investing thousands of crores into enabling data access.

Another excellent example here is Reliance Jio, which has single-handedly transformed the internet landscape in the country. Data is now cheaper than ever before. Since 2016, after the arrival of Jio, we’ve gone from consuming 1 GB per month per person on average to 11. The cost of data has also fallen to a ridiculously low Rs 2.7 per GB. Lest we forget, in 2016, we were spending upwards of Rs 500 a month for a measly 1.5 GB of data.

Access to internet, and increasingly in multiple Indian languages, will be the single biggest transformative force for the world’s youngest population in years to come.

Electrifying prospects: The future of transport

India may be years away from getting sexy Tesla's, but the electric future is already here.

India may be years away from getting sexy Tesla's, but the electric future is already here.

India may be years away from getting sexy Teslas on our roads but our electric car revolution is coming and it could be here already.

Take Ather Energy for instance. This Bengaluru-based startup only recently launched two electric scooters in the country (the Ather 340 and Ather 450), but more importantly, the company is developing what is the start of an indigenously-built electric vehicle charging grid. The charging grid is dubbed the AtherGrid and involves fast-charging stations that can top up the batteries on Ather scooters as well as other electric vehicles.

The current plan involves the setting up of 60 charging points in Bengaluru. They plan to expand their network to Pune, Hyderabad, Delhi and Mumbai in the next financial year.

Another company, Magenta Power, announced plans for setting up an EV charging corridor at Lonavala, along the Mumbai-Pune expressway. The corridor will include AC and DC chargers and support a whole range of charging standards. It’s already set up a solar-powered EV charging station in Navi Mumbai.

Coupled with government subsidies and various incentive programmes, e-rickshaw projects across the country are slowly picking up steam. E-rickshaws are cheap to run, environmentally friendly, and are helping transform lives in some of our poorest states.

India, of course, has some rather ambitious plans as far as EVs are concerned. Several cities in India, including Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru have already been given the go ahead to introduce electric transport vehicles in the country. Companies like Tata and Mahindra are exploring options for the large-scale manufacture of vehicles like electric buses, dozens of which are already plying our roads.

There are challenges — the govt had to revise its 100 percent EV target by 2030 down to 30 percent, but they’re not insurmountable.

Dispose of with care: Afroz Shah and Shyam Sundar Bedekar

Everyday heroes making India clean.

Everyday heroes making India clean.

In late March, Mumbai woke up to hatchlings of Olive Ridley turtles at the Versova beach, which has infamously been known as a dump yard. However, following rigorous effort by Afroz Shah, a Mumbai-based high court lawyer, and 84-year old Harbansh Mathur, now deceased, the beach has become cleaner and a glaring example of civic efforts to reclaim the environment.

Since 2015, Afroz Shah, the pied piper of the Versova beach cleanliness drive, along with thousands of enthusiastic volunteers have helped clean up 4,300 tonnes of plastic.

But the real success of these efforts came to light when, after a hiatus of 20 years, Versova beach saw thousands of Olive Ridley turtles hatch on a balmy March morning this year.

Moving on from baby turtles to the problem of waste disposal, according to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, only 48 percent of women in India have access to clean, sanitary napkins. Vadodara-based couple, Shyam Sundar Bedekar and his wife Swati, are manufacturing affordable sanitary napkins and incinerators for the safe disposal of used napkins.

Bedekar, a textile dye and chemical trader in Vadodara, heard about the stigma attached to menstruation from his wife, and created a company called SmartEnterprise to manufacture sanitary napkins made of cotton and polypropylene.

While they were able to solve the problem of affordable sanitary pads, there was no proper system for the disposal of discarded sanitary napkins. Therefore, he created a terracotta based "ashudhi nashak" incinerator. In this machine, the pads were burned with the help of waste paper and not electricity, since the use of electricity would make it expensive.

This generates less smoke since it burns at 290-degree Celsius. The ash generated from the burnt sanitary napkins gets dissolved into the soil since the napkins are made of cotton and polypropylene.

These incinerators have been installed in 109 residential Gujarat schools which come under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan. Several schools scattered around the state are also using these tools.

ISRO's IRNSS Programme

India is building its own global positioning system

India is building its own global positioning system

Launching its first satellite Aryabhatta in 1975, ISRO or the Indian Space Research Organisation has over the years, been able to quickly catapult India into a list of elites when it comes to conquering space. With numerous feathers in its cap already, the IRNSS (independent regional navigation satellite system)  mission is certainly one which will help the country enormously over the years in disaster management and other tracking services that it provides.

But what is IRNSS? Simply put, IRNSS also otherwise called NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) is the Indian 'GPS'. It is an autonomous regional satellite navigation system that provides accurate, real-time positioning and timing services, covering India and a region extending 1,500 km around its borders.

Boasting a positioning accuracy of 5 meters, NavIC has helped India enter the club of select countries having their own positioning systems. This list currently includes the US which has GPS, Russia — GLONASS, European Union — Galileo and China — Beidou Navigation Satellite System.

Fake News Warriors

The unsung heroes fighting for the preservation of trust in news

The unsung heroes fighting for the preservation of trust in news

Under the Pradhan Mantri Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, girls of the age 1 to 18 will receive a cheque worth Rs 10,000 and the last date to register is 15 August, Independence Day.

A YouTube video in Marathi claims that a man mated with a pig which gave birth to a human-looking offspring.

This is what two WhatsApp messages read on many phones last weekend, and then the fact-checking website BoomLive jumped into action and did some fact checking. They found out that the Rs 10,000 cheque for young girls WhatsApp forward was a sham and this weird looking creature was a sculpture created by Italian sculptor Laira Maganuco.

With more than 200 million active users in India that send hundreds of millions of messages every single day, the secure and encrypted messaging app has come under immense fire for being a hotbed for rumours and fake news. Fortunately, homegrown fake news warriors like BoomLive, AltNews and SM Hoaxslayer have come to the rescue. They monitor social media, identify false information, verify it by carrying out thorough research and when the information is fake, they publish an article with corrections. Most such organisations are manned by senior journalists and exercise rigorous independence from advertising money to maintain credibility.

Paani Foundation is using crowdsourcing to make Maharashtra drought-free

Paani foundations unique watershed management initiatives could help solve the water crisis.

Paani foundations unique watershed management initiatives could help solve the water crisis.

Water scarcity and drought are real problems in Maharashtra. While some parts of the state receive a high amount of rainfall, some other parts often get scarce rainfall. This can adversely affect agriculture.

Paani Foundation is an initiative that was set up in 2016 to rid Maharashtra of drought like situations. The organisation created by the team behind the TV show Satyamev Jayate is headed by Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao and Satyajit Bhatkal along with field teams across Maharashtra. What started with just 3 talukas in 3 districts involving 116 villages has now grown to encompass 75 talukas in 24 districts and around 4,025 villages.

The foundation has an experiential training programme to ensure villagers are given the right technical knowledge and leadership skills to overcome the issue of drought in their villages and learn the basics of water management. This is achieved through the use of training videos, an Android app that monitors progress, training ebooks as well as teams working across the state to share knowledge.

eGovernance apps

Government services that have become apps

Government services that have become apps

Remember the big Digital India drive that Prime Minister Modi constantly brings up? It turns out that the government is actually serious about it.

There are several apps that are targeted towards making arduous processes such as applying for a passport or completing a money transaction easier than before. So, on the occasion of our 72nd Independence Day, instead of lamenting about the government’s inadequacies, let’s take look at some very important apps that have been introduced or are affiliated to the government.

mPassport Seva: With the mPassport Seva app, the government offers the facility for Passport application status tracking, locating the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) and general information on the various steps involved in obtaining a Passport. Although some users in the comments section on Google Play Store have written about the app’s buggy design, it has a 4/5 rating overall.

BHIM: This is the government's initiative to enable digital payments so that people can send each other money by simply inputting the receiver’s mobile number.

This transaction system is called as Unified Payment Interface and BHIM is interoperable with other UPI applications and bank accounts. BHIM is a progressive endeavour by the government towards enabling cashless payments and a more digital India.

ePathshala: The ePathshala app is a joint initiative by Ministry of Human Resource Development and NCERT making it easier to obtain study material, including textbooks, audio, video, periodicals, and a variety of other digital resources for school students. The app is streamlined enough for students to understand and is available in a variety of languages.

DigiLocker: DigiLocker happens to be a service that has been developed by the Indian government which will allow users to make their official documents and identifications available on the cloud. Users will have 1 GB of storage space for storing identification cards issued by government agencies, education certificates, PAN cards, driving license, vehicle ownership documents and some other documents.

Youth Ki Awaaz

Giving India's youth a platform to report on issues that matter.

Giving India's youth a platform to report on issues that matter.

In a scenario where sensationalism is plastered all over the mainstream media and the youth feels increasingly disillusioned with news, Youth Ki Awaaz (YKA) is acting as a true youth platform.

With the motive of breaking the “culture of silence” and creating a dialogue between the youth of India about issues that bother them, YKA was founded by Anshul Tiwari over a decade ago.

Today, YKA reaches a reader base of more than 5 million readers each month and is home to about 50,000 contributors who share grassroots stories.

In its early years, YKA also held a Writers Training Programme in 2010, which created a huge impact and brought in qualitative changes amongst youth volunteers. A training programme was also held in 2018 which was free of cost. Participants received a certificate at the end of the course.

The website helps amplify the voices that are striving to be heard and serves up stories that have been hushed due to social stigma.

Preserving a part of India’s history

Indigenous tech is helping revive India's rich cultural past

Indigenous tech is helping revive India's rich cultural past

India has a rich and varied history that stretches back thousands of years. Preserving that history is a duty that we have long neglected. We’ve had our excuses, British rule decimating a large chunk of our history, a lack of funding, etc. Today, in a world where technology can scan faces in 3D in milliseconds and AI can read and translate our receipts and notes, there can be no excuse.

PR Mukund, an engineer at the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, was fascinated by the Vedas and the science they discuss. These ancient manuscripts date back to 1100 BC and are among our oldest surviving texts. They’re incredibly precious and are certainly worth preserving.

While the texts are being preserved, the more traditional preservation process is time-consuming and, more importantly, is an analogue form of preservation.

We, who can’t even be bothered to do our own groceries, can hardly be expected to take the trouble to head to a museum or university and dig up ancient texts. We live in an internet age, where information is just a keyword away. Why not take advantage of that?

Mukund decided to do just that with these precious scriptures. He intends to make the Vedas and other ancient manuscripts available to everyone via their smartphones.

Over 3,000 pages have already been archived on disks of Waferfiche, a waterproof, fireproof silicon wafer. The next step is to digitise these wafers, which will then be shared in ebook form, according to Mukund.

The discs will be made available at an upcoming centre in Bengaluru, where the archival and digitisation process will continue.

There are various other institutes in India that are also working to rescue India’s history. These include the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute at Pune, Oriental Research Institute and the University of Mysore, which have been collecting, editing and publishing rare Sanskrit and Kannada manuscripts.

Food and Seed sovereignty of Women farmers in Telangana

Women farmers in Telangana show how farmer suicides can be reduced to zero.

Women farmers in Telangana show how farmer suicides can be reduced to zero.

The commercialisation of agriculture has resulted in much progress, but one of its biggest downsides has been the over-reliance on external resources for all farming input, including, and especially, something as basic as seeds.

Our ancestors were more resourceful and self-reliant, possibly by necessity, but it was a practice that kept them self-sufficient and relatively safe from the vagaries of the market. Given the farmers’ lot today, it’s hard to fathom how beneficial the commercialisation of farming was for them. News of farmer suicides punctuates news of farmer protests around the country.

In the small village of Pastapur in Telangana, however, things are very different. In a state that boasts of the second-highest suicide rate in the country, this village of women farmers can happily report of none.

Adopting techniques like multi-cropping, especially with millet crops, their methods have made their farms sustainable and even helped them achieve seed sovereignty and self-governance. The use of millet crops is interesting in itself. The women realised that not only are millets highly nutritious, they’re also easy to grow in semi-arid regions and that the fodder can serve as food for cattle. They’ve also developed innovative methods for storing and sharing their seeds.

Behind this programme is the Deccan Development Society (DDS), which is a two-decades-old grassroots organisation that works with women farmers from 80 villages.

Organic farming, seed sovereignty, bio-fertilisers, dangers of BT Cotton and critical farm practices are just some of the topic that these women have mastered. They’ve also created videos that can be viewed by anyone anywhere.

Innovation from and for rural India

Promoting grassroots innovation and the protecting intellectual property rights of rural India

Promoting grassroots innovation and the protecting intellectual property rights of rural India

Empowerment our nation’s poor is not a job for a single individual, but an army. One such army, the Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI), is building sustainable practices in rural India by bringing together potential collaborations between qualified mentors in the formal sector, with ideation in the informal sector.

SRISTI has expanded its reach and ambition since its conception 16 years ago in Ahmedabad by its founder, Dr Arun Kumar Gupta, now building bridges between innovators, farmers, academics, policy makers, entrepreneurs and NGOs across the country.

SRISTI is actively building on one of the largest efforts in the world to record unique innovations in the rural and informal sectors of the country in a database, called the Honey Bee, which has seen huge success in its pilot project in Gujarat. This is a mission to identify and safeguard the intellectual property rights of individual innovators, families and communities. The database is part of SRISTI’s larger effort to promote awareness about intellectual property rights among the abundant, culturally-rich but economically poor sections of Indian society.

The Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Award is another effort by SRISTI to support youth-driven tech innovation. It also ensures that the winning technologies find their way to the grassroots they are designed for. Among the winners in 2017 was a microscope adapter that costs Rs 20,000, optimized for the early detection of Tuberculosis (TB), which still plagues 2.8 million Indians as of 2016. Another, called Steri-Freeze, is an autoclave that costs just Rs 500 and is used widely by doctors and clinicians to sterilize instruments but is scarcely available in village hospitals. It was designed by students of ICT Mumbai.

Developer Spotlight: India's best app makers

Apps that are made for Indians, complete with our cultural quirks.

Apps that are made for Indians, complete with our cultural quirks.

Approximately 10 years ago, when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone 3G in 2008, little did he know that he had opened up a world for millions of software developers across the globe with the launch of the App Store. Back here in India, it was able to move thousands of potential entrepreneurs to write a few pages of code and turn into overnight superstars without having to even show their faces.

Developers looked at problems, identify the solution to the problem and made an app out of it to make it accessible to millions of others. This brings us to the first app on our list, Dailyhunt (earlier called Newshunt).

Developed by Verse Innovation, the app, available on iOS and Android, publishes news like a lot of other news apps out there. However, what makes Dailyhunt stand out is that it aggregates the news in 17 regional languages. Dailyhunt also boasts of being the largest Indian language distributor of e-books, with over 70,000 titles in ten languages.

Another Indian app that you might have heard a lot about lately is BYJU's — The Learning App. Founded in 2011 at Alipur, Karnataka by Byju Raveendran, BYJU's tapped into the lack of a systematic learning system across the country and used modern methods to bridge the gap of having a teacher physically present to teach students. BYJU's claim to fame, however, is the fact that it trains and preps students up for competitive examinations such as IIT-JEE, NEET, CAT, IAS as well as for international examinations such as GRE and GMAT.

Moving on, one of the biggest issues that people face while filling up paperwork and forms is the excruciatingly long process itself. From having to take print-outs, to having documents physically delivered to the right recipient, the entire process takes hours and even weeks when it comes to government-related paperwork. The solution to this problem? SignEasy.

Founded in 2010 by Sunil Patro, an IITian and an ex-Microsoft employee, SignEasy is a cloud-based solution to digitally sign and fill documents from a smartphone or PC. Headquartered in San Francisco, now with an office in Bengaluru, SignEasy has been featured in Apple's Best Business App section consecutively in 2014 and 2015 and has also been pre-installed by Apple on its demo devices.

With Facebook being sketchy with user data, a lot of Indians are looking for social media alternatives and ShareChat is one which needs special mention. That’s because ShareChat has been designed by a group of Indian developers (Farid Ahsan, Bhanu Pratap Singh, Ankush Sachdeva) to help communicate with people, share jokes and access news. ShareChat also features a ton of exclusive regional video content which makes it more interesting.

To make the app even accessible, it also features a multi-linguistic keyboard which allows users to communicate in as many as 14 Indian languages.

Happy Independence Day!

Disclaimer: Reliance Industries Ltd. is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd.




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