Whenever IAS aspirants Karpagam, Nappinai and Brijesh come together, they discuss recent policy announcements and their impact. On Saturday, however, they left discussions aside and focussed on action.

They went from one slum to another, talking to mothers and pregnant women. “The government has ambitious plans to curb maternal mortality and infant deaths. But many women know nothing about nutrient supplements. Shouldn’t we use serials to inform them of what is good for them,” said Karpagam, even as she worked a video still shot in Nocchikuppam.

Their team — By The People — was one of the participants at the two-day hackathon on the 12th Five Year Plan organised by the Planning Commission and National Innovation Council (NIC) at IIT- Madras. During the 32-hour programme, that will last till Sunday noon, students could choose from macroeconomic framework, health, urban development, education and skill development, energy, agriculture and rural development, and environment and make mobile/web applications, infographics and short films. The event also took place at the University of Jammu, IIT Delhi, Delhi University, Aligarh Muslim University, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, TISS Mumbai, IIIT Hyderabad, IISc Bangalore and IIM Shillong.

IIT–M director Bhaskar Ramamurthi urged the participants to keep thinking about policy and administration issues. K. Ramamurthi, dean, academic courses, said arrangements have been made to ensure the participants had no problems working all through the night.

This is the first time a hackathon is being held here by a government agency.

The opening address was conducted via webcast by deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and adviser to the Prime Minister, Sam Pitroda.

The best entry in the visualisation category stands to win Rs 15,000, while for apps and short films, the top prize is Rs 25,000 each. These prizes will be given separately in all of the 10 locations. Winners of the online contest will also be rewarded similarly.

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